- Pages: 9
- Word count: 2219
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Using the four poems; ‘Song of the old mother’ by William Butler Yeats, ‘On my first sonne’ by Ben Johnson, ‘Digging’ by Seamus Heany and ‘Catrin’ by Gillian Clarke, I am going to compare how the poets use different techniques to show the relationships between parents and children, also how the writer conveys their ideas to the reader. In the following paragraphs I’m going to talk my interpretation of the four selected poems. In ‘Song of the Old Mother’ William Butler Yeats is the writer for this poem however he is not the narrator of this poem, his mother is.
This poem is about growing old and how the mother thinks children take things for granted. The mother talks about everyday simple tasks, she has lots of work to do ‘even before the children and sun come out’. She repeats that because she is old, she must work and she is warning her children that one day her children will too be old and have to work really hard and she is getting cold because it is getting late and the fires going out. I think by this the poet seems to be saying that the mother is getting to old and may die soon.
She knows as well as the reader that the mother will have to get up early in the morning to start her daily tasks all again. She is also talking about that while she is working her female children are dreaming about silly, stupid, immature, girly things, like ‘ribbons in their hair’. Even though the mother seems to be moaning I feel that she does love her children, she just wants the best for them and is trying to warn them about life in the future. The poem ‘On my first Sonne’ is about the death of Ben Johnson’s (the poet) 7-year-old son.
It was a shock but in those days it was much more common to loose a baby at young age because of the poor medicine and nutrition. Religion was an important part of this poem. Johnson believed, (as well as many other people) that his child belonged to God and that God lent Ben his child for a certain amount of time and then also took the child away again. The poet shows his conflicting emotions and the poets feelings of guilt. The poet tells the reader that he regrets expecting too much but he wants to avoid being hurt again.
The central idea of the poem ‘Digging’ is the contrast between the pen and the spade. The spade is a symbol for Heany’s routes, while the pen is a symbol for his trade and the power of his writing. The poet explains the admiration towards his father and grandfather. In the beginning of the poem Heany was not proud of his occupation, however at the end of the poem he was in a better frame of mind and had overcome his guilt of not carrying his father’s footsteps. Finally ‘Catrin’, this poem is about love and conflict. Gillian Clarke remembers the first, ‘fierce, confrontation’, between herself and the baby.
The labour experienced by both of them was probably a painful affair. The poet remembers the tight red rope of love we both fought over, which means they both want to cut the umbilical cord. The poet explains that even when the child is grown up she feels the tension between them still. The poet talks about how they both longed to be separated, however the love between them was still there. In the following paragraphs I’m going to talk about the language that the poets use in the selected poems. ‘The Song of the Old Mother’ is a simple monologue, which uses rhyming couplets.
In this poem William Butler Yeats uses simple language and vocabulary. William uses alteration in a very affective way. In line 1 the mother is trying to blow on the fire and the alliteration draws attention to the reader because of the sound she makes with the letter ‘f’. The ‘f’ sound is the same noise as when you actually do blow on the coal to make the fire light. This use of alliteration involves the reader with the mother, so the reader can imagine what the mother is doing. This effect is very powerful because it really gets the reader involved with the poem and the mother’s character.
It also helps to make a more realistic image in the readers head. This is called onomatopoeia; this is a word when a word sounds like the word it is describing. For example in ‘Song of the Old Mother’ ‘fire, flicker and glow’, sounds like the mother blowing on the fire. ‘Seed of the fire’ is an example in this poem of a metaphor it is also an example of repletion this phrase is written in the seconded line and the last line. This is a very effective way of getting the reader attention without the reader really realising. There are no similes or oxymoron in this poem.
The word fire is used in this poem repeatedly as it is a strong addictive and make the poem more powerful. There are a lot of religious references in the poem ‘On My First Sonne’ language is used to create effect. For example ‘child of my right hand’. As it says in the bible Jesus is sitting on the right-hand side of god also a right hand man is someone who is very important to you. So Ben Johnson is using this phrase to convey his feelings towards God and his son, to the reader. Also ‘sin’ is a religious term, ‘will man lament the state should envie? ‘ Is another example.
After death people believed they go to a better life so his dad envies him. The paradox in this poem is that the father is sad because his son is gone; however he is happy because the son has gone to a better place than earth. Alliteration is used in this poem ‘so soone scrap’d worlds, and fleshes rage’. ‘Seven yeeres tho’wert lent to me, and I thee pay’ is another example of a religious reference it is also a metaphor of god lending the child to Johnson. There are no oxymorons in this poem. ‘Soft peace’ in line nine is an example of a strong adjective.
Lines nine and ten use strong adjectives are used to describe the type poem. The powerful adverbs used in this poem are used to describe when something has happened. For example ‘fleshes rage’. In the poem ‘Digging’, Seamus Heany uses repetition at the beginning and at the end of his poem. This emphasises his ideas. ‘Between my finger and my thumb, the squat pen rests; snug as a gun’ is the first stanza of his poem. The word ‘squat’ is and ‘ugly’ word and it suggests ‘ugly’ thoughts. Also the phrase ‘snug as a gun’ (in line two), is an example of a simile.
Heany is trying to say that his talent of writing poetry is not useful, and using the word ‘gun’ is aggressive word and Heany uses this word to convey the reader with his anger and guilt. Another example of Heany’s guilt is ‘By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man. ‘ This is also an example of Heany’s admiration for his father, grandfather and their work. Heany keeps mentioning his admiration for his father and grandfather; this really gets the point across. Here are a few more examples of Heany’s admiration; ‘My grandfather cut more turf in a day, Than any other man on Toner’s bog. , ‘But I have no spade to follow men like them. ‘ Heany uses onomatopoeia twice in this poem; I assume he does this because this is a very effective way of involving the reader more in the poet’s ideas. ‘Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving soda’ is one example. Another is ‘squelch and slap’. By using this onomatopoeic technique he also uses alliteration to make the reader seem to hear the digging of the men, this I find is very effective. Finally the last stanza is a reputation of the first stanza however Heany state of mind has changed throughout this poem to a positive state.
The reader realises this as they read the lines; ‘between my finger and thumb, The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it. ‘ In the poem ‘Catrin’ by Gillian Clarke alliteration is used in lines four and five; ‘The people and cars taking Turn at the traffic lights’ to describe the movement of cars. There are no similes in this poem. ‘the tight red rope of love’ (in line eight) is an example of a metaphor, Clarke has used his language to give the reader an image in their heads, this involves the reader once again an oxymoron is used in line fourteen to show the relationship between the mother and child; ‘wild, tender’.
Strong adjectives in lines two and three are used (‘hot, white room’) to describe the delivery room in a powerful way. Powerful adverbs are used are used in line seven to describe the when the mother and child first meet at birth; ‘Fierce confrontation’. The powerful adverbs and strong adjectives are used in this poem to make these word or points stand out to the reader as they are important to the poet. In the following paragraphs I’m going to talk about the structure of the selected poems. The structure in ‘Song of the Old Mother’ consists of one stanza.
In lines three and four enjambment is used to make flow and make sense. Butler Yeats uses a strong and regular rhythm and rhyme scheme. Lines one and two make the poem sound like a protest lines five and six are endless and repetitive tasks old mother does every day. ‘On My First Sonne’ is a single stanza of twelve lines; this is fairly short for a poem however gives a powerful description of paradox of poet conflicting emotions. It is written in iambic pentameter-lines. The poem has regular rhythm and it is written in traditional rhyming couplets. It sounds like a religious chant or prayer.
This poem is all three of these descriptions epigram, epigraph and epitaph. Johnson asks rhetorical questions in this poem which shows he is unsure. He also uses enjambment in his poem (lines five and six); ‘For why Will man’ this shows the randomness of his thoughts. The poem ‘Digging’ is written in stanzas. The rhyming scheme in stanzas one and two is in rhyming couplets, but the rest of the poem has no rhyme. For example ‘under my window, a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravely ground. ‘ This is a pair of rhyming couplets found in stanza two.
In stanza three there isn’t much rhyme, for example ‘Till his straining rump among the flowerbed bends low come up twenty years ago. ‘ The rhyming scheme is irregular, the poet chooses to do this to make the reader see that everything is not well and something is wrong. There isn’t much rhythm apart from the first two stanzas. The poem contains enjambment; in ‘Digging’ the sentence runs from one stanza to the next. This makes the poem flow, without enjambment the poem would not make much sense. In ‘Catrin the first stanza is about when the child is just born. The second stanza is about when the child is older.
The change of stanza shows a change of direction. Enjambment is also used in this poem to make it flow and make sense. In the following paragraphs I’m going to talk about my personal response of the selected poems. I liked ‘Song of the Old Mother’ because of how the rhyming scheme (rhyming couplets) gives it a good rhythm. I also like how the poet uses repetition to represent the beginning and end of the day. The alliteration used creates an image of ‘fire flicker’, so it involves the reader. ‘On My First Sonne’ is a sad poem and I think it has a lot of meaning.
He uses religious references as it is a religious poem. I think this is very effective and it really gets to the reader. I think that the poet feels sorry for him-self and guilty for loving the child too much. I really like ‘Digging’ because I feel this poem is a collection of Heany’s thoughts, I feel it’s him thinking though his talent as a poet. I like the way his state of mind changes and he gives a satisfying ending to the poem; ‘between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it. ‘ I found that ‘Catrin’ was effective because of the contradicting thoughts; such as ‘love and conflict’.
I liked the way it was set in two different periods of time because it shows the links between both stanzas. I think the poem expresses the relationship between the mother and child very effectively. I conclude that While I interpreted these poems I realised they all in some way talk about the pros and cons of have a parent-child relationship. The poets released there emotions by using different poetic techniques to express there ideas to the reader. I found that all the selected poems involved the reader well in their ideas of a parent-child relationship, but in their own unique way.