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Li-Young Lee’s poem “Persimmons” and Eamon Grennan’s poem “Pause”

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When you attempt to find a solution to any kind of problem, it is best to look at it from different perspectives. When two poems focus on a common theme with the same familial relationships, different points of view must certainly give great insight on the topic at hand. For instance, in “Persimmons” and “Pause”, the reader can clearly understand the vast love in the child-father relationship within each poem. “Persimmons” is told from the perspective of the child in the relationship, which goes on early in the start of the poem (e.g. the first stanza) to reveal some of his past experiences, experiences we can use to better understand his relationship with the father. The author conveys a mood of pleasant nostalgia to the reader, reminiscing on the warmth that his father cast on him.

Comparable to “Persimmons”, “Pause” speaks from the perspective of a father towards the subject of his daughter. The father in “Pause” recalls memories of his daughter on a winter morning, as he waits for her at the bus stop (lines 10 and 21). The author definitively describes every moment as if every second he spends with his daughter is history in the making. The author is a man who loves his life and embraces life’s unfolding events (line 20, “intrusions of love and disaster”) which is parallel to the tone of the author in “Persimmons” who soaks up the wise words of his father and never looks negatively upon the events that formed his life.

The intense imagery surrounding “Persimmons” is unmistakable. Imagery reaches out at us to appeal to all the senses we use everyday in our lives. It is this sense of realism that gives imagery such power over the reader. In the opening of the poem (line 2) the author is “slapped” on the back of his head. Everyone has at one time felt the punishment for a wrongdoing at school and everyone understands the feeling is very hurtful as you begin to feel like a disappointment. The reader follows this and through imagery, he can relate. Lines 9 to 16 express the fullness of imagery that only a great poet can put into words. The reader begins to see a persimmon form before his eyes. First, he can smell it, and then he can feel the delicate skin. Eventually he can begin to taste its mix of tart and sweet taste.

Without this imagery which is kept constant throughout the poem (lines: 18 to 20, 46 to 48, 58 to 60, 76, 86 to 88 [these last three lines reach a culmination and signal the abrupt end of the imagery]), the reader would be left feeling empty and unsatisfied. The understanding of the symbolism can only come through understanding of the depths of analysis of the imagery. With analysis, the significance of the “Persimmons” so frequently alluded to can be comprehended. The author mentions an important event in his life within each of the first four stanzas (embarrassment as a child, first sexual experience, fear and fights, beginning of fascination with persimmons). The following stanza (lines 46 to 48) divulges perceptions that the author is equating himself with a persimmon.

The author now begins to speak of his father, a man who greatly loves his child (lines 67 to 69). Line 76 mentions a painting of two persimmons done by the father. He touches it and asks, “Which is this?” This example brilliantly illustrates the idea that the author’s life is a persimmon and the two persimmons reveal the two ideas that either he has ripened into a good, young adult through his life, or that he is still unripe and has more life to be living until he reaches that point. In the last stanza of the poem, the positive attitude portrayed by the father reveals the son’s ripeness or understanding of the world.

The descriptive language of “Pause” defines the meaning of imagery. The author employs phrase after phrase of unusual adjectives and insists on including an example of imagery in every other line. Line 1 creates the phrase “weird containing stillness of the neighborhood”, in a way to introduce the setting of poem. This begins the demonstration of the importance that Eamon Grennan relies on this literary device. In reading lines 6 to 10, pictures begin to take solid form based on the concentrated effect of description being used. The sense of hearing then takes control of the reader (lines 15 to 19) as Grennan draws home on his focus on the word “Pause”. He lifts the air as he tells of the little child’s voice, then continues to speak of silence and intrigue (line 18 “infinite possibility”), and finally ends with a an “explosion” (line 19) which rocks the reader into the understanding of this use of suspense to lead to a sudden twist in the end.

Exactly like the poem “Persimmons”, the imagery creates the symbolism. The symbolism peaks on line 16. After the writer has wrote about the event which has just occurred, he thinks back and remembers the “pause” right before it all happened. He wishes to show fulfillment in his life by his daughter, when he says that this “pause” explains the life (with his daughter) that he has chosen. He focuses his attention on the choices in his life and tells of the “infinite” possibilities of different things that he could have done. In the final three lines, he goes as far as detailing that his seemingly ordinary life brings comparable emotions as to those invoked by love or disaster. He was a fulfilled man that had boundless possibilities for his life but chose to live it as he has.

As I have evidenced in the above paragraphs, the relations between the two poems are seen in the dramatic use of imagery to create a depth of symbolism. This symbolism is based on the choices we decide to test in the trials and tribulations of our lives. In “Persimmons”, the reader sees a child grown into a man who recalls major events and applies them to his adequate ripening of knowledge founded in experiences of the real world. It is seen that his father is the final judge to decide if he really has ripened. For “Pause”, there is another man, this time a father, who understands that there are innumerable amounts of different decisions he could have made during his life, but he is completely satisfied with the life that formed from his choices. Now that I have studied these poems together so intimately, I understand that the different perspectives have ultimately led to the same idea which has been expressed through symbolism.

I would go so far as to propose that the author in “Persimmons” could have grown into the same man which speaks in “Pause”. The astonishingly similar attitudes of the speakers in both poems seem to be the same individual. In the beginning I was not sure what to think of the two poems, however, I now understand that by attempting to find comparisons, I’ve had revelations which led me to a new understanding of each poem. Both writings complement one another by revealing fresh ideas that the other had hidden. The dual perspectives achieve a harmonious co-existence in a world of poetry.

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