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Attempts at Poetry Explication
Death, be not proud (P 596)
Death, be not proud is the unusual portrayal of Death as a bringer of deliverance "...rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be..." rather than a figure of hell, torment, and punishment, "Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery." through a fourteen-line sonnet (written in iambic pentameter). The speaker emphasizes the inevitability of death through its personification which allots death a more formidable role through characterization. "...we wake eternally..." is an allusion to heaven, accentuating death's role as deliverer rather than a persecutor.
As a servant, a deliverer of souls, Death paradoxically dies at the end of the poem creating an effectual loop; the circle of life is seen even in death. The description of "soul's delivery" adds a light connotation to the apparently bright future of the afterlife. The poem is driven by a sonnet's abbaabbacddc rhyme pattern ending with the death of Death himself to emphasize the termination of the poem.
At this death, the speaker feels sympathy, "...poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me." for the plight of an entity portrayed as not truly malicious, but which merely brings peace to the living.
The Pulley, written with each stanza according to its own rhyme pattern (ababa 2 cdcdc) to distinctly mark four separate events, is the speaker's observations regarding the operation of God in his or her world. Strength, Beauty, Wisdom, Honor, and Pleasure are all personified to emphasize their importance as the speaker's values. The speaker says that these values allow a person to surmount life's great obstacles which lend them their significance. The poet has enjambed each stanza, "If goodness lead him not, yet weariness / May toss him to my breast." to emphasize continuity of experience, and the oneness of the good which may bring salvation. The last line details the suggestion that the damned may find salvation not through their direct efforts but as a last resort. A pulley is a device that eases lifting; the title suggests that life's sequence of events are set up for the best through the powers that be.
This unrhymed poem, with each stanza composed of seven lines, compares the ravages of weather to the ravages of a tumultuous relationship. "...glass has been falling..." may be applied to both a barometer and broken expectations, as well as frustrations with a lover. "...a silent core of waiting..." compares the eye of the storm with the speaker's nervous tension. "...secret currents of the undiscerned..." can be applied to rising storm winds or the passive-agressive actions in a dysfunctional relationship. Weather becomes a reference to both weathered and internal violent feeling. "...Weather abroad/ And weather in the heart alike come on / Regardless of prediction." refers to an inability to select with whom one falls in love; love is spontaneous and uncontrolled.
"Time in the hand is not control of time" relays to the reader a basis for the speaker's sense of helplessness when trapped in an unfavorable relationship. "We can only close the shutters." is the speaker's presenting the need to protect herself from the society which presents a danger to her because of her love. "These are the things that we have learned to do / Who live in troubled regions." ends with a note of resignation, seeing the necessity to disguise her life even should it mean living with unhealthy relationships.
February 17 1997
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Aesthetics, Poetic form, Poetry, Spoken word, Sonnet, rhyme pattern, inevitability of death, iambic pentameter, cdcdc, beauty wisdom, poetry explication, poor death, death of death, persecutor, deliverer, circle of life, personification, weariness, ababa, sonnet, bright future, pulley, oneness, allusion, bringer
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