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This poem is split into two halves, down the centre, from top to bottom. Almost each line is a paradox. The first half of each line seems to be the good in his life, and all the things which he has done, The second half points out that the good he has done, and the hopes for the future which he had, are now worthless, and invalid. For example:
“My crop of corn is but a field of tares.”
This is saying his crop of corn, i.
e. his life, his achievements, and the things which he has to his name, are now worthless. Tares are a practically worthless animal feed, they are weeds. This line is quite simply saying that he is finished, and that his life is now pointless.
“I sought my death, and found it in my womb”
This line is demonstrating the author’s acceptance of his death. He is saying that the reason for him having to die, he has found in his womb: the place where new life is created.
His deep inside, his inner beliefs, thoughts and feelings would have been created here. The author was born to die in this way, to die for his beliefs. His is like a martyr.
Line 17 says:
“My glass is full, and now my glass is run”
When he talks about a glass, it could mean an hourglass. The hourglass has now run out, yet it should not be, in relation to his age. If an hourglass was to run out, it would symbolise the end of something, especially now, as hourglasses are not often used.
The grave but not yet depressing music of the lines is emphasised by the repetition of the line, which ends all three stanzas:
“And now I live, and now my life is done.”
This line creates a sense of doom, and death, as though the poet were anticipating the slow tolling of the bell announcing his death. This poem does not try to gain the reader’s sympathy; it is more about the author accepting what he has done wrong. He has accepted that he will be executed, and now he is trying to prepare for it.
There is a tight rhyming structure to this poem. The pattern goes: ABABCC, ABABCC, etc, throughout the stanzas. This tight rhythmic structure shows how the decision is made that he is going to die, and nothing can be done, except to accept it. There is no wandering outside of the structure, which represents the way the writer is feeling; he is not going to wander in and out of thinking that there might be some hope for him being saved.
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