Comparing The Beggar Woman with three other poems
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In this essay, I will be comparing the poems; ‘Our Love Now’, ‘Rapunzskiltskin,’ ‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘The Beggar Woman.’ I will look into conflict and power between men and women and how it is revealed.
The first poem I will look at is ‘The Beggar Woman,’ by William King. This poem is about a gentleman in seventeenth century Britain. He is out hunting one day and is separated from his group. He sees a young beggar woman whom he deems attractive. He then propersitions her for sex. She obliges and they wander off into the nearby wood. After a while, they discover a suitable place. However, the woman’s child is getting in the way. They try a number of positions without success so the man offers to have the baby strapped to his back. The woman thinks this is a brilliant idea and quickly detaches young Bobby from her and moves him onto the gentleman. She then spontaneously departs, leaving the baby with the man. This is so random and is impossible to anticipate, suggesting that the audience doesn’t expect female power.
The themes raised in this poem are the woman’s place in society and how the poet disagrees with the morals of of the situation. When this poem was composed, men had little respect for women generally, particularly those of a lower class, so, to a certain extent, the narrative the poem portrays could be realistic. Rich gentlemen may well have slept with young beggar women, then gone back to their wives and children. By the poet’s lack of emotive language, I believe that it gives the poem a sense of reality. By the woman’s actions at the conclusion of the poem, she moves the power and control to her. Morally, this is the wrong thing to do. However, when the action is a powerful role reversal statement. Due to the lack of contraception, the woman is most likely to become pregnant but in this situation, it is the man who is burdened with the baby.
As this poem was written around the seventeenth century, the language used is old fashioned and complex. Sentences are rearranged to fit the rhyme.’He let his company the hare pursue.’ The poem is very literal, there is no vivid imagery created and metaphors are scarcely used. The structure is similar to that of a basic story: beginning, middle and end. The lack of imagery supports the theme by making things appear more real. Rhyming couplets are used throughout the poem.
‘Our Love Now’ by Martin Lawery is a poem about a failing relationship. It deals with the emotions of both parties, how the man wants to find a solution to the problems but the woman keeps pushing him away. Each verse spoken by the man devises a separate positive reason for staying together. The woman then directly disagrees to each point. My interpretation of this poem is that the man had an affair and is trying to rebuild the bridges destroyed by adultery. The man could also be viewed as a lesbian woman, however as it written in first person, and the poet is male, i gather the impression that the narrator is a man.
I think this poem is ironic because in general society, the woman is wanting to cling onto the relationship but in this poem the roles are reversed,showing a similarity to ‘The Beggar Woman’. The role reversal gives power to the woman, as she can choose the path of the relationship. The conflict on the woman’s side is bitter and unforgiving yet understandable. The mood is upsetting. It resembles an autumnal tree holding onto its last leaf, but the wind ends the ordeal, by blowing it off. When compared to ‘The Beggar Woman’, it is clear that this poem is more descriptive and emotive. ‘The tree is forever dead. Such is our love.’ This is because of the respective styles of poetry of which the poems are written. ‘The Beggar Woman’ uses little imagery to provoke the reader’s mind into thinking more literally. Where as ‘Our Love Now’ is written solely as a metaphor, creating vivid imagery. This also reflects the content. ‘The Beggar Woman’ is about plain, care-free sex represented by the plain words used. The more colourful language shown in ‘Our Love Now’ shows the more loving relationship.
This poem uses a refrain of ‘I said’ or ‘She said’ at the start of each verse, signalling the speaker. This also shows a physical divide between the two and shows they are separated by opinion. Every verse spoken by the man is a point made by metaphor however the woman then disagrees with the point by destroying the metaphor. The woman’s verses always end in ‘such is our love now’ except in the final verse where the poet drops the final ‘now’. The effect this has is that it closes off the poem and suggests that it is also the end of their relationship for good.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell is about a gentleman who is confessing his love for his friend, who is referred to as ‘the mistress’. He uses metaphors to persuade her. Unlike ‘Our Love Now’, it just shows the opinion of one party. Also, this poem isn’t really a narrative as such, it just portrays emotions of one moment, contradicting the style of ‘The Beggar Woman’. The first stanza of the poem talks about the ifs and buts. ‘Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness Lady, were not crime.’ it ponders on the idea of eternity and if they had till the end of the world, what this man could do. The second stanza moves back to reality. It says that they don’t have all the time in the world. ‘But at my back i always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.’ Death will catch them up before they know it. The final stanza encourages the pair to live life now. ‘Thus, though we cannot make our Sun stand still, yet, we will make him run.’
There is little conflict in this poem. However, the desperate persuasive methods could be interpretations as mild conflict. The lack of conflict is mainly due to the sole point of view portrayed in the poem. As it only one perspective that the reader witnesses, then it is hard for the poet to infer conflict. The woman has the most influence over the forthcoming activities so i would say that she is in control. The man would do almost anything for this woman; the ball is in her court.
The poem is written in old fashioned language common to the time period of which it originates. It uses many literally devises such as metaphors. ‘My vegetable love shall grow.’ It also follows a strict rhyming system throughout this poem, showing similarities with ‘The Beggar Woman’. The effect of the couplets is that they are separated into separate points or statements.
Finally, i will be analysing ‘Rapunskilltskin’ by Liz Lockhead. It is a humorous satire, complaining about the stereotypical female image portrayed by fairy tales. It is structured as a fairy tale maybe: fair maiden stuck in a tower, handsome prince comes to rescue her. However, in this story, the pair do not live happily ever after.
The poem begins a few years after the maiden is locked away for all eternity. She has lost all hope of being rescued when a young a Prince comes along with the idea of escape. However, he is clueless when it comes to plan. So he visits everyday, bringing silk, ‘from which she was meant, eventually to weave the means of her own escape.’ as well as visiting for regular sex. Soon the girl becomes impatient. ‘All very well but when exactly?’ When it becomes apparent that the Prince is more than slightly dim, she is irritated. His stupidity is enough to drive her to suicide.
I believe that the Prince has the power in the poem, however he has neither the intelligence nor the understanding to use this. The girl is perplexed by the whole situation and is trying to live to the dependant stereotype but has better prospects than that. She comes to terms with this and that is a factor that drives her to suicide. There is, in my opinion, no conflict in this poem. However, i do understand that the friction between the characters could be perceived as conflict but, as the Prince does not see or register the trouble, i do not see it as the type of conflict portrayed by the other three poems. I believe the lack of conflict is due to the intellectual gap between the pair. The inability to construct a conservation means that an argument would be out of question.
This poem has a satirical message. It questions the stereotype portrayed by fairy tales of women. Generally, they are young and beautiful or old and ugly, mainly witches. The poet is angered by these stereotypes and uses the poem as a method of saying this. She highlights the stupidity shown in these old stories by reversing the roles of the different sexes.
The poet uses both old fashioned language, ‘skeins of silk’ and that of a more modern era. ‘Hollered like a fireman in some soap opera.’ The effect this has is that it feels like a fairy tale but has flashes of a modern age. The poem uses unconventional signs such as ‘&’. it also uses little grammar, making it feel more childish. The colloquial language adds to this effect. It therefore undermines the traditional layout of a fairytale.
When considering the historical context of both pre 1914 poems, ‘The Beggar Woman,’ and ‘To His Coy Mistress’ i can see that they could be perceived as controversial. ‘The Beggar Woman’ in particular, questions men’s attitude to women, and suggests that this derogatory opinion, common to men of that time, is immoral and unjustified. This poem also shows power in the best way. This poem’s hidden twist in control is the most effective representation in this collection. The fact that the man believes he is in control, but that the woman has the whole situation planned out, proves this. ‘Our Love Now’ contains the most conflict. However, most of it is inferred. The main argument has passed and now the is attempting to resolve the problems.