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The poem “Rising Five” deals largely with the theme of time and our rather disturbing attitude towards it. We are constantly looking ahead, into the future, seeking the next stage of our lives and failing to enjoy each moment as it comes. The poet seeks to express the importance of living in the present through his use of imagery and structure, which emphasise the dangers of always looking ahead through the seasons of our lives and almost wishing away our time here on Earth.
The structure of the poem moves us from the innocent, seemingly trivial outlook of a child to the wider issue of wishing our lives away. The repetition of the word “rising” to connote almost or nearly there begins to suggest a positive outlook as the small boy is “rising five” or almost five and this is shown as a childish impatience to grow up and be older than he really is. On the other hand, this phrase is repeated, each time growing further ahead and rushing through time as in “rising June”, “rising night” and then finally “rising dead”.
This last line is deliberately shocking and underlines the poet’s concerns that we rush through our lives at too fast a pace and almost run towards death before we have had a chance to live.
The language moves from a description of the young boy “brimful of eyes” with “toffee-buckled cheeks” at the beginning of his journey through life. His large eyes suggest a wide-eyed innocence and a fresh outlook on life, while the “toffee-buckled cheeks” is an image which reappears later in the poem with a more serious and threatening tone as the poet describes our attitude to youth “like a boy throwing away his toffee wrappers”.
This simile emphasises the casual way humans desire to be grown up and moving onto the next stage of their lives, throwing away time as if it is rubbish or litter to be wasted.
Furthermore, the writer chooses natural imagery to describe the passage of time. The use of rhymes such as “bubbled and doubled” along side the personification and alliteration of “buds unbuttoned; shoot and stem shook out the creases…” suggests a sense of joy and excitement as nature literally dresses up in her Spring finery. The irony being that we do not stop to enjoy each season, rather we look forward to the next month, the next stage of the year.
The last section of the poem reflects a more sombre tone and the vocabulary becomes increasingly serious and more complex. The imagery of the “dust dissected tangential light” reflects the poet’s ultimate message of “new buds pushing the old leaves from the bough”, a metaphor which expresses the human desire for change and perhaps a lack of respect for age and wisdom. Finally the natural imagery is used to express how our hasty attitudes lead us to find only “the rot in the fruit” where the fruit represents our lives in their negative aspects as they run out and we run out of time.
Overall, the poem is concerned with human responses to time and delivers a powerful message that we need to stop rushing ahead, seeking the next experience and the next thrill and start to appreciate the here and now, before it is too late.
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