An Analysis of ”A Considerable Speck” by Jack Frost
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In Jack Frost’s “A Considerable Speck”, the speaker is a writer who, before completing his piece notices “a speck that would have been beneath my sight” (line 1). Initially, the speaker remarks, the writer “poised my pen in air to stop it with a period of ink” before this microscopic mite grabbed the writer’s attention and “made me think” (Lines 4-5). The speaker is in aw and is fascinated with the minute creature as it races across his white sheet of paper. “With inclination it could call its own…Then paused again and either drank or smelt” (lines 10 & 13). The reader carefully examines the actions of the mite in detail, as if it were a complex being with emotions and intelligence. The imagery used by the speaker is vivid in description describing the mite in detail. Phrases such as “paused again and either drank or smelt…With loathing, for again it turned to fly” aids the reader in visualizing the actions of the mite.
A Considerable Speck is divided into three distinct stanzas each entailing a different aspect of the speaker’s contemplation of the mite. In stanza I, the speaker describes the mite using imagery, evoking lifelike images in the mind. In stanza II, the speaker’s attitude towards the “speck” is introduced. Stanza III concludes the poem with the speaker’s justification for not killing the helpless mite. In A Considerate Speck the speaker expresses his thought of a mite with detailed description of its actions and proposed feelings. The speaker uses figurative language in this poem to describe the mite whilst providing the reader with a source of pleasure in the exercise of the imagination.
“A speck that would have been beneath my sight” (Line 1)
The speaker introduces the poem in a captivating manner, indicating to the reader that something was about to occur, an object or creature – hence the word speck and its denotation: “A slight but appreciable addition” and “a tiny piece of anything” (Websters.com). The writer’s level of appreciation for the speck is realized on line 6, “When something strange about it made me think”. From then on, the reader is aware that the speaker is not taking this mite lightly. His attitude towards the speck on the sheet was inquisitive at first sight. As stated, the speaker originally “idly poised my pen in air” because he had finished writing a sentence. However, his focus is shifted from the task he was completing to the miniscule speck, “a living mite” (line 8). The speaker uses figurative language on line 5 by saying, “To stop it with a period of ink” which literally means “to place a period at the end of the sentence”. This figurative speech brings additional imagery into the verses, making the text more sensuous. The speaker personifies this mite throughout this stanza, as describing the creature is central in the first stanza. The speaker claims the mite “paused as with suspicion of my pen” and “racing wildly on again…with inclination it could call its own” (Lines 9-11).
“Cower down in desperation to accept / Whatever I accorded it of fate” (Lines 22-23)
In the second stanza, the speaker begins to divulge his attitude towards the mite. The speaker becomes aware of the mite’s position as an inferior and smaller creature, while the speaker is a superior, larger, and intelligent being capable of taking the mite’s life. These lines could serve an allegory, with its true meaning buried beneath the text. In a way, this level of hierarchy is applicable to humans as there is a “super-being” or “godly-like” figure watching down on us with the ability to annihilate the whole human race if he/she pleases. The reader can be interpreted to being a “higher figure” to the mite. “I have none of the tenderer-than-though/ Collectivistic regimenting love” (Line 24-25). Here, the reader may interpret the speaker as contemplating human society and the class system today’s world follows so faithfully; with the “poor microscopic item” representing the lower class who are underrepresented in today’s society. On line 29, the speaker decides not to exterminate the poor mite, “I let it lie there till I hope it slept” (Line 29).
“I have a mind myself and recognize/ Mind when I meet with it in any guise” (Line 30)
As the speaker decides not to kill the mite, he explains s that a level of respect should be given to those beings lower than ourselves because, in the end, we too have higher beings watching us.