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Comparing and Contrasting Cynddylan and Lore

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1626
  • Category: Contrast

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After studying a number of poems by the Welsh poet R. S Thomas, I have decided to analysis two in detail which share the same theme of work but convey different attitudes relating to the way this work is conducted. The poems I have chosen are ‘Cynddylan’ and ‘Lore’ through which I feel Thomas effectively convey his attitudes to his twin passions; the Welsh people and the Welsh landscape. R. S Thomas was a Welsh poet who was born in north Whales in 1993.

He was a vicar in a very poor parish, and also a minister for the poor hill farmers in area. R. S Thomas wrote many of his poems about the poor and hard conditions the Welsh farmers had to live through. He died in 2000. The two poems we looked closely at were ‘Cynddylan’ and ‘Lore’. Cynddylan, on the surface, is about a farmer who has got a new tractor, but if we look deeper we see that Thomas uses the character of Cynddylan to convey his own attitudes, both political and religious, to the in industrialisation of farming. In this poem the poet is trying to show how abandoning traditional farming methods for mechanical farming can separate you from nature.

Cynddylan is very proud and excited about his new tractor but has forgotten about the nature around him. ‘Lore’ is about an eighty-five year old farmer who hasn’t abandoned traditional farming. The farmer, Job Davies’ is very old but is still going strong and isn’t a miserable old man. The message in this poem is stay true to traditional farming and never mind the machine. Some of the aspects of the two poems I will be comparing and contrasting will first be the tone each poem is written in. Cynddylan is written is a mocking or sarcastic tone.

R. S Thomas is mocking Cynddylan in a very subtle manner. In Lore, the tone is very defiant tone as Job is proud of his traditional farming techniques. Another aspect of the two poems I will be comparing will be the overall message of the two poems, that abandoning traditional farming and embracing mechanical farming, separates you from nature, like Cynddylan. Another aspect of the two poems I will be contrasting will be how Cynddylan has been completely separated from nature and has become ‘part’ of the machine.

While Job Davies has stayed with the traditional farming method and is proud of it. In ‘Cynddylan’ the tone at the beginning is very conversational. We know this by the informal ‘Ah’ in the first line. This ‘Ah’ sets up a sarcastic and mocking tone that runs throughout the poem, and the conversational tone very quickly changes to a tone of ridicule. In the line ‘Riding to work now as a great man should’ this is also a very sarcastic and ironic line. How great is this man who scatters the hens with the noise of his tractor?

As he rides to work the poet uses such words as breaking, emptying and scattering to show how he is adversely affecting nature, with his tractor. In ‘Lore’ the tone is quite different. A sense of defiance is evident throughout the poem. This eighty-five year old and has no intention of succumbing to the ‘slow poison’ of time. Job Davies shows his defiance in the line ‘Miserable? Kick my arse’. ‘Kick my arse’ is Job’s proud and defiant answer to giving up and being affected by the ‘slow poison’ of time.

Job Davies needs only a cup of tea and a bowl of hot porridge and he’s ready to tackle the elements and the ‘treachery of the seasons’. Whereas in ‘Cynddylan’, man and machine cannot be distinguished from each other. ‘His nerves of metal and blood oil. ‘ In Cynddylan there is no apparent or consistent rhyme as this could be to convey how out of harmony Cynddylan is from nature.

R. S Thomas only twice uses rhyming couplets. These are used when the poet is delivering his harshest criticism of Cynddylan: ‘Riding to work now as a great man should’ ‘….. Breaking the fields mirror of silence, emptying the wood’ ‘and all the birds are singing, bills wide in vain, As Cynddylan passes proudly up the lane’ These images might create a sense of frustration within the reader, as they see Cynddylan passing ‘proudly up the lane’ when he is completely oblivious and ignorant to the negative effect he is having on the natural environment. The use of rhyme here emphasises the poet’s criticism against Cynddylan. In ‘Lore’ there are many rhyming couplets as they occur in much shorter lines they help to strengthen the forcefulness of Job’s statements.

The rhyming pattern is AABB and this regular rhyming pattern gives ‘Lore’ a tight control and structured quality. ‘What to do? Stay green Never mind the machine. ‘ In ‘Lore’ Thomas captures the rhythm of Davies through his use of rhyming couplets. The rhyming couplets seem to mirror his movements with his scythe. In Cynddylan there no apparent or consistent rhythm, which would suggest how out of sync Cynddylan is with nature. In Cynddylan, R. S Thomas uses the technique of metaphors to ridicule and mock the farmer.

The first apparent metaphor is in the lines: Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil ‘ ‘His nerves of metal and his blood oil’ The poet uses the image of Cynddylan being no longer a slave or a part of the soil; he has been completely taken over by the machine. The poet exaggerates this point when he says ‘his nerves of metal and his blood oil’ to show how much he is indistinguishable from the machine, so much that his blood is now oil. Another metaphor in the poem is when Cynddylan is described as a ‘knight at arms’ as he breaks nature’s ‘mirror of silence’.

Describing the farmer as a knight adds some hostility to Cynddylan and his tractor as he storms noisily through the fields and frightens the nearby wildlife away. I think the most significant metaphor in ‘Cynddylan’ is how the farmer ignores ‘the sun’ and ‘runs his engine on a different fuel’. I think this is significant because it shows much Cynddylan has been separated from nature that he doesn’t even need the sun anymore. In ‘Lore’ R. S Thomas uses metaphors for a very different reason. The metaphors are used to emphasise the harshness of Job’s life.

There is a ‘treachery’ in the seasons and they apply ‘a slow poison’ as we do not notice the gradual effects of time. The most striking metaphor in ‘Lore’ is ‘the rain’s hearse/ Wind drawn’ which helps us to imagine the bleakness of life in the Welsh countryside. This bleakness is immediately offset by the metaphor which states that Job will not allow it to ‘pull me off/The great perch of my laugh. ‘ Not even the harsh weather and seasons can put Job Davies down, as he is resilient and defiant towards the ‘treachery’ of the elements.

It is interesting to notice R. S Thomas’ love of nature in the metaphor describing the grass as ‘bearded with garden dew’ The first example of alliteration in Cynddylan is ‘clutch curses’. The harsh or hard ‘c’ sounds emphasise the noise of the gears as Cynddylan struggles to put his tractor in gear. Another example of alliteration is in the line ‘passes proudly’ this plosive sound with the p’s is almost as if the poet is spitting his words out in disgust, showing great contempt for Cynddylan, the character for embracing the machine and abandoning nature.

In ‘Lore’ alliteration is also used for emphasis. An example of alliteration in ‘Lore’ is ‘Live large, man and dream small’. The message here is don’t be so caught up in modern technology and live a simple, traditional life. Again alliteration is used here for emphasise. The moral message in both poems is very similar. The whole message is built around the idea of staying true to traditional farming and don’t embrace mechanical farming. R. S Thomas uses Cynddylan as an example of what can happen farmers if they turn towards mechanical farming.

Cynddlyan became totally separated from nature and was oblivious from nature’s song. The whole message can be summed up in the line from ‘Lore’: ‘What to do? Stay Green Never mind the machine’ In conclusion there are similarities and differences between the two poems. A similarity is how the poet uses alliteration for the same effect, be that for emphasis or intensity. A difference between the two poems is how the poet uses poetic techniques for very different effects.

In’ Cynddylan’ the poet uses metaphors to ridicule the farmer for example, Cynddylan ignores ‘the sun’ and ‘runs his engine on a different fuel’, and this metaphor shows Cynddylan is no longer a part of nature. Another example of Thomas using metaphors to ridicule Cynddylan is in the line ‘Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil ”His nerves of metal and his blood oil’. This again shows how he has become a part of the machine. In ‘Cynddylan’ there is no apparent rhyme scheme or structure, and Thomas uses this to show how Cynddylan is no longer in sync with nature.

The use of poetic techniques in ‘Cynddylan’ evokes no sympathy from the reader and makes him out to be a dislikeable character. And in ‘Lore’ he uses the same techniques but to different affects, mainly to show the hardships Job Davies has to go through every day, and to inspire some sympathy in the reader. The poet describes how this old man stays true to traditional farming methods,’ Stay Green, Never mind the machine’ and how he defiantly resists the ‘slow poison’ of time. This metaphor evokes sympathy in the reader and makes Job out be a likeable character.

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