‘A song of the republic’ by Henry Lawson and ‘If You Forget Me’ by Pablo Neruda
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I have chosen two poems, A Song of The Republic, by Henry Lawson (1867-1922), and ‘If You Forget Me’ by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Both of these poems use many different techniques to reflect the context of their time and their values and beliefs.
Pablo Neruda was a Nobel prize winning Chilean poet who lived during the times of World War 1 and 2 as well as the Spanish civil war. Due to his first hand experiences, his poems changed overtime from love poems to political poems. Neruda firmly believed in the power of poetry, and wrote according to his beliefs. ‘If You Forget Me’ is one of Pablo’s earlier poems as it is a love poem.
The poem ‘If You Forget Me’ can be interpreted in many ways and is like many other modern poems, it has no set rhyme or rhythm. The poem has 48 lines and is made up of 3 stanzas. These stanzas have a huge variety in their sizes with the smallest stanza consisting of 2 lines whereas the largest stanza consists of 14 lines.
‘If You Forget Me’ is mainly about Neruda’s belief of how love and relationships should work and that there is a thin line between love and hate and once this line is crossed, it cannot be reconciliated. This is shown in the poem where Neruda writes “If suddenlyyou forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you”. Pablo also shows how little acts can build up and break a marriage. This is shown where Pablo writes “Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little”.
In the poem ‘If You Forget Me’, Neruda uses many techniques effectively to convey his message to the reader. One of these techniques is metaphors. Neruda uses many strong metaphors in this poem to strongly show his message. This is shown in Neruda’s poem “I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land”. This is a strong metaphor which tells us that he will take him and his belongings and go off to find another lover. Another strong use of a metaphor is in the 3rd stanza where Neruda writes “In me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten “. This metaphor shows us that he believes passion is needed in a relationship for it to succeed and last.
Neruda also uses visual imagery to convey his values and beliefs to the reader. This is shown in the 1st stanza where Pablo writes “to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots”. This visual imagery shows us the sadness felt at the end of the relationship where he is left alone on a shore.
Henry Lawson lived in a time where the nationalist movement in Australia was very powerful. Many people believed in Australia’s independence, including many Lawson’s close relatives and friends. A Song of The Republic shows the nationalist influence in that, while it is not mentioned specifically, it calls for all Australians to rise up against the British Empire.
In the first stanza, Lawson calls for the “Sons of the South” that is, all Australians, to “Banish from under your bonny skies/those old-world errors and wrongs and lies. /Making a hell in a Paradise” meaning to remove all the influences of the British Empire, because Lawson believed that they were “making a hell in a Paradise.” He then goes on to present all Australians with a choice, loyalty to British Empire “the land that belongs to the lord and queen”, or to loyalty to Australia “a Land that belongs to you”. In the third stanza, Lawson tells us that “your time has come” for all Australians to rise, and finishes in the fourth stanza with “free from the wrongs of the North and Past”.
A Song of The Republic is a very stirring poem, designed to make us feel more patriotic, and proud of our country. The rhyming scheme of each stanza is very uncommon, the first, third, fourth and fifth lines rhyme and the second and sixth lines rhyme. As well as the rhyme, the poem has a very specific rhythm, one that gives it a very fast paced and strong feel.
In this poem, Henry Lawson uses a few language devices which reflect the values of his times. One of these is the repetition of the phrase “Sons of the South”, this phrase serves to unite all Australians so that not only are they citizens in the same country, they are also brothers. Another, is not actually naming either Australia or Great Britain, this is because, while the nationalist movement was quite powerful, if someone wrote deliberately to spark a rebellion, then they could be convicted of treason, as Australia back then was still a British colony. Through out the poem, no names are mentioned, the only references to who Lawson is talking about is the use of “North” and “South”