The section “Body and Soul” in the poetry book Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley proves to be very effective as it provides insight into the human mind and how we process emotions and feelings through the use of poetry. These poems “celebrate the joy of living” (Astley, p. 29) while also providing the reader with experiences that they can not only relate to but giving them new perspectives that the poet may have. The poems that will be referenced highlight people’s emotional and physical reactions to their environment.
The poetic techniques such as rhyme and alliteration et used in these poems prove to be very effective.
The poem “The Hug” by Tom Gunn portrays how a simple physical experience such as a hug can be interpreted. The poet unveils to us a snippet of a not only emotional but physical experience. Although small, it carries weight. The poet describes this experience in great detail “My shoulder-blades against your chest” (Astley, p.
37). This is an effective use of imagery that appeals to the reader’s sense of touch. Rhyme although it is not continuously used throughout the poem it is prominent enough to be noticed when one is reading the poem. This usage of this provides a pleasant rhythm for the duration “friend” “end”, “stride…side”(ibid,2017). Sibilance is a very prominent technique thought this poem also as Gunn uses it to enhance the sensuality and intimacy of the situation at hand ” I dozed, I slept my sleep broke on a hug”(ibid,2017).
Gunn appears to reminisce about another life with someone who holds a lot of significance in his life who possibly isn’t present anymore when our grand passion had not yet become familiar”(ibid,2017). Small touches such as a hug can be taken for granted so easily and one does not understand the importance that moments like that carry in human life. This has great relativity in terms of the body and soul as experiences such as the one the poet is reflecting on has a great influence on somebody. Alliteration is also used at the beginning of the poem,”drunk and dined”(ibid,2017). The use of this technique sets the scene for the continuation of the poem.”The Hug” buy Thom Gunn is as it reflects on the impact that physical touch can have on a person and how much weight experiences hold in other people”s life when their significant other may no longer be present.
In comparison to “The Hug”, “Happiness” by Raymond Carter is also another poem that enhances the effectivity of the section the body and soul in “Staying Alive” By Neil Astley. This poem reflects on the little pleasures in life that provide us with contentment and happiness, something that is good for both the body and the soul. Happiness is an intricate and fragile emotion that we as humans need to experience in order to function. It is not the magnificent occurrences in our lives that provide us with the most happiness, it is the small physical pleasures such as the taste of hot coffee running down our throats while watching the sunrise. The form of the poem itself is quite simple also referring to the simple happiness the two boys are experiencing “They are so happy they aren’t saying a word” (Astley, 2017, p. 33) in that moment in time while carver watches them from the window. “I’m near the window with coffee”.when I see a boy and his friend walking up the road (Astley, p. 33)
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