Comparative commentary (two hands and the visitor)
Siir Tecirlioglu 11A 16 March 2011 Comparative Commentary (Two Hands and The Visitor) Two Hands, written by Jon Stallworthy in 1976, and The Visitor, written by Gibbons Ruarkin 1999, are poems written in 1st person. Two Hands is about a father-son relationship, the talentsof these two characters and the distance between them. The Visitor is about a piano tuner, musicand its impact on our lives. There are many differences between the poems, such as the themes.However, there are similarities too, such as the genre. The poems have similarities anddifferences in their use of sensory details, the tones, and the symbolism. The tone reflects the gloomy mood of the narrators and the distance they feel towards othersaround them. In the Visitor, the gloomy mood is best shown in the following example: “And asingle lucid drop of water stars my dream” (line 27). The tone is gloomy because the vocabularyused is based on a dream-like situation and a distance felt by the narrator. In Two Hands, themood is gloomy because of admiration, self-pity, and distance from father. The distance isdescribed physically by the following phrase : “the other hand of the house” (line 7). So in theVisitor, the distance is due to the dream-like narration; the reader isn’t enlightened if the personais physically distant or emotionally or both. In the Two Hands, the distance is clearly described;
it is both physical and emotional. Distance has great importance in both poems because it affectsthe tones and the moods. Symbolism is one of the most important literary elements used in both of the poems. Themessages of the poets are made clear with the repeated use of symbolism. In Two Hands, themost important symbol is the act of dancing. In some cases, dancing is used for personifyingdifferent objects. An example of this is in lines 14 and 15: “…dance with this pencil”. What does“dance” symbolize? It symbolizes the differences between the jobs of the father and the persona.The way the father uses the scalpel is different from the way the narrator uses the pencil. Both ofthese objects are personified with the use of the act of dancing. The difference between thepersona and the father is the main theme in this poem. In the Visitor, the symbols are the songsplayed on the piano. Each one of them reflects a different event. An example to this is in lines 14to 17: “My wife plays Stardust. The blind man stands and smiles in her Direction, thendisappears into the blaze of new October.” The song is “American popular music” as describedin the footnote of the poem. Popular music is full of joy and movement. The blind man’s faceexpression reflects this because he is smiling. The main theme in this poem is the relationbetween the environment and music. Sensory details are presented in both of the poems. In general, the sensory details putemphasis on empathy and feelings of the persona of the poems in both cases. In the Visitor, thereis a wide use of visual and auditory details just like in Two Hands. The Visitor has gustatory andtactile details which aren’t used in Two Hands. So, the difference is the amount of usage of
sensory details. The effect of the sensory details in the theme is greater than in Two Hands. InThe Visitor, sensory details are part of the plot but in Two Hands, sensory details are descriptiveliterary elements. One of the best examples of sensory details in Two Hands is in lines 11 and 12:“…spade palms, blunt fingers short in the joint..” This is a very important description in thepoem for the purposes of understanding the theme. In The Visitor, one of the best examples ofsensory details is in lines 9 and 10: “Finger along a wire touches the dry rust to his tongue,breaks into a pure bliss...” This is one of the most important events in the plot of the poem.Therefore, sensory devices are used in both poems but for different purposes. In conclusion, The Visitor, written by Gibbons Ruark, and Two Hands, written by JonStallworthy, have similarities and differences in different aspects. The most obvious ones are inusage of sensory details, and symbolism and their tones. It is surprising to find so manysimilarities in these aspects when the themes of the poems are so much different from each other.