The poem is quick to assert that, maybe even provide a caveat, that one should take their life seriously and live their life to the fullest. It’s interesting that Byron beings to reflect on his life at this age, and I find it even more interesting that the poem was written on the last year he would live. One thing Byron emphasizes heavily on this poem is love and compassion. His first lines are an admittance that he does not have a partner by his side (lines 5-8). Many people fear dying alone, and Byron is not immune to such anxiety.
Byron is even envious for those who have found love (lines 13-15). The “Chain” Byron says he wears symbolizes loneliness, perhaps even failure. He fears that his ultimate failure in life would be his lack of a companion, and that he cannot fill that void. I think Byron than goes on to say that love is happiness: and to have an absence in love would leave a person empty. Byron realizes he has failed in the one area he defines to be the most important and to recover from that and at least die in an honorable/memorable way is to take the soldier’s death.
Since he has no significant other to speak highly of him when he is gone, he could at least have his fellow brothers-in-arms speak of him when he’s gone (most likely due to the soldier’s death). Overall, I’d say Byron is quite malcontented with how he’s lived his life. But I would say he was rather too harsh on himself, he fails to recognize all the great and wonderful things he has achieved in his life. But I also know that no one can determine whether or not someone was successful in life; that can only be determined by how that individual perceives themselves.
The poem as a whole seems to be a reflection, but also a sad epiphany that Byron has not done all that he could have done with his life. This leads to the reoccurring theme that has been illustrated by almost all poets of this age: The ‘carpe diem’ seize the day/moment mentality. Darkness At the beginning lines of the poem, Byron sets up the reader to understand that this vision of the future, while not a current reality, could easily become so if mankind does not change his interaction with the environment. A cataclysmic event has occurred in which the sun is destroyed.
For the eco-critic, this could be representative of any sort of environmental issue that is the result of man’s irreverence for the Earth – nuclear war, pollution, overpopulation. The poem does not need to explain how the sun was destroyed, just that the event happened and as a result, mankind’s decent into chaos and death was imminent. Mankind’s reaction to the event is to burn both civilization and nature in order to provide fuel to continue its existence. The next section forewarns the reader that following environmental catastrophe will be nothing but destruction.
The destruction of nature occurs in the form of the overuse of resources, such as animals for food and trees for fuel. Men and animals would seemingly succumb to an almost hysteric state in which the law of survival becomes the only law, which is heralded as truth. This state of kill or be killed ultimately produced more concerns for the fate of mankind. Not only has the environment begun to be destroyed, here represented by the loss of the sun, but what few resources remain are being consumed at an unsustainable rate.
The eco-critic understands that the population of the Earth can and should only become as large as is sustainable by the resources available to it. Byron illustrates this concept through the introduction of famine in the next section of his text. “The crowd was famish’d by degrees; but two of an enormous city did survive, and they were enemies. ” The ultimate warning of eco-criticism is that the result of the widespread destruction of the environment is the widespread destruction of the human race. Byron has created a world in which the only two remaining humans cling to whatever life they have left in the form of a metaphorical flame.
The last section of “Darkness” leaves the reader with a haunting image of a world in which nothing living exists. According to the eco-critic, this is the warning that Byron is delivering to us: either we change our ways and amend our neglect of environmental duty and responsibility, or we eventually perish. The destruction of mankind will come at its own hands, whether it is through environmental cataclysm, overpopulation and the subsequent war and famine, or through the slow poisoning of the Earth. Darkness” is a vehicle by which the eco-critic can forewarn the reader to change. Eco-Criticism, then, becomes a vehicle for change and hope. It is not merely about the destruction of the world, but hope that destruction can be avoided. Epitaph on an Infant This is a short poem, but still has a lot of meaning behind it, pertaining to the circle of life and death. Coleridge is saying that death can come at anytime and any moment, and seize anyone it pleases. Taking the baby’s life shouldn’t be viewed as an evil or injustice, but rather part of the cycle.
The first line can be interpreted to mean that the baby was never able to become exposed to the horrors of the world (sin) or be in the world for too long to have its loss be heart-breaking (sorrow). Not saying the loss of the baby was not a saddening thing, but Coleridge is saying the baby was not in this world long enough for it to be a huge loss. The last line is hopeful, saying the baby was able to “blossom there”, with there meaning heaven obviously. This, I feel, is how Coleridge viewed situations where the cycle of life seemed to break its own norms with taking a life that many would view as too early to take.
This is for those who never got to grasp the mentality that many Romantic embraced during this time, of seizing the day, and living life to its fullest, not having any regrets. Of course, the baby (or any other youngling) is unable to even encounter such mentalities or form its own attitude for life. Even the length of the poem is symbolic; it represents the life span of the young babe, and how short life can ultimately be if one does not take their time to sit back and enjoy it a bit. Human Life Here’s how I interpreted this poem to be, line (cluster) by line (cluster).
Lines 1-4: if the human body dies, the soul lives on forever. Lines 5-6: A human is comprised of three things, mind, body, and spirit. Lines 7-9: Everybody dies at some point in their life, and while to may try to prolong it, it is ultimately unavoidable. Lines 10-14: Nature will choose when everyone dies, it does not discriminate. Lines 15-17: When everything does not seem to be going your way, look through your previous dreams, hopes, and fears. Then reflect, and see if everything is as bad as you are making things out to be.
Lines 18-22: remember though that each previous event echoes other ones and to be honest why do we wallow in things that are not important, and yet we hide ourselves from matters of much more importance? Lines 23-26: Why do we compare ourselves to events in the past instead of matters in the present moment or future? The past does not change, but we are shaped from it. Lines 27-28: Humans feel what they feel for no apparent reason; yet they seek reasons for why they feel the way they do. And the final line (29): All of a human’s life is nothing but a contradiction.
A human will seek answers to many of life’s questions within themselves, but will always have conflict within. With this poem, Coleridge takes a more dark approach to the cycle of life, with his central theme of the poem being clearly stated at the very end “A beings being is contradiction”. He takes the approach to life of many people spend hours, days, weeks even contemplating the reasons for the seasons, our existence, why we die, and all other philosophical questions; and he asks “Why even bother seeking such answers? ”. Death is unavoidable, and those who try to prolong it or even avoid it, are just walking contradictions.
Why try to go against what is everyone’s fate in the end? Coleridge purposes such ideas and asks provocative questions to get his readers to think: Is it wiser to spend one’s life contemplating matters that way over everyone’s head, or rather just accept that your life as you know it will end one day, but in the meantime do your best to live it and not let anything shackle you to the bonds of “I can’t therefore I won’t”. Once again, the Romantic theme of ‘carpe-diem’ is sensed as a undertone to this poem, as Coleridge is warning people to not let the worldly matters trouble them, instead seek out the best in your life.
Ode On The Death Of A Favorite Cat Drowned In A Tub Of Goldfishes This poem was quite uncommon for its time, but it still shared the qualities that make the readers think about life, death, and the cycle of the two. The reader is taken on a journey into the life of this cat, Selima, experiencing not only the beauty that is said creature, but also the sad end she came to, quite undeservingly. The third person view Grey utilizes helps show the struggle between life (the cat) versus nature. With the tone being deadly erious, Grey is showing a portrait of the cat as a cat with her “conscious tale” and “ears of jet” ( lines 7,11), trying to accomplish no more than procuring a goldfish for lunch. However, the tale takes a deadly turn when the fated Selima goes a paw too far and tumbles face-first into the goldfish tub. The reader, through this tone (which some might call mock-heroic, could they not see the utter tragedy and seriousness of Selima’s fate), is taken into the life and death of a cat who was merely hungry; alas, she ends up swimming with the fishes.
The golden hue of the fish is what catches the tabby’s attention, and the cat then tries to catch it’s lunch. Eventually, the cat falls into the pond, and struggles for a while, with no help coming. This can be seen as no matter what you do in your life, when things really matter (such as a life and death situation), the only person one can rely on is themselves. Unfortunately, Grey has a grim way to convey that. The cat surfaces eight times, each time her life force growing weaker and weaker against the struggle… ntil eventually Selima, having exhausted all her life, sinks amidst the objects of her lunchtime ambitions. Grey’s powerful message here is clear; be careful where you step, as you may fall into a pond of goldfish and drown. Furthermore, Gray implies, what you covet, though it may be beautiful, may lead you to your death. This can be tied back to the theme of not taking life for granted, and making each day yours. Should one be weighed down with material possessions and worldly goods, they are depriving themselves of the ultimate ‘good’, life itself.