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I chose death for my project theme because I was interested in learning the
variety of methods different poets used to express death in poetry, whether it
was to use repetitive words and sentences to make a point or to compare the
indifferences of nature to mortality. I wanted to explore the many view
points of death and show that everyone has a different take on demise,
sometimes happy and sometimes sad. For death cannot be expressed in one
word for the passing is as complex as the human experience itself.
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course,
And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
YOUNG AND OLD BY: CHARLES
Green representing youth.
Goose to swan – first transition
from kid to young adult.
Go out into the world and make
use of the time when young.
Clear turning point from
young to old with the brown
Run down wheels shows the
immobility that comes with age.
And hopefully you wont
have to die alone.
The speaker is a wise old man informing his son what is to be done
in life. I really enjoy how the poem starts off with the beginning of
life with green trees for new growth then transitions into the father
saying ―Then hey for boot and horse, lad, And round the world away;‖
witch to me means go out there and make use of this time you have
on earth because ―Young blood must have its course, lad, And every
dog his day.‖ The world will not stop for you you must make use of
the time you have. Charles Kingsley makes great use of transition
words from young to old were the trees turn from green to brown
wheels run down and creep home witch in the end clearly and
beautifully defines the turning points.
RESPONSE TO: YOUNG AND
When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless
for summer holidays.
WHEN I AM ASKED BY
I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me
lack of interest
Spring all was
< Nothing showed a sign
of sadness or death. Life
continues on even when
Commercial- the perfect day.
Something on might see in a
^ Encircled by innocent unworldly
faces. The only thing that would
express my suffering and distress was
my words. So this is how I began
This poem is about a man who has lost his mother. He goes out into a small
garden to grief over his loss however finds the plants know no comfort. “but
the day lilies were as deaf as the ears of drunken sleepers,…” nothing was
showing concern or interest for his feelings. So the man turns to the mouth
of language or poetry seemingly the only thing that would grieve with him.
Mueller has a way with using imagery and similes to really express the
indifference nature has on her feelings. Day lilies as deaf as the ears of
drunken sleepers, nothing black or broken, and my favorite “the sun blared
endless commercials of summer holidays.”
RESPONSE TO: WHEN I AM ASKED
My mother said, “Of course,
it may be nothing, but your father
has a spot on his lung.”
That was all that was said: My father
at fifty-one could never
speak of dreadful things without tears.
When I started home,
I kissed his cheek, which was not our habit.
In a letter, my mother
asked me not to kiss him again
because it made him sad.
In two weeks, the exploratory
revealed an inoperable
The doctors never
told him; he never asked,
but read The Home Medical Guidebook.
Seven months later,
Just after his fifty-second birthday
-- his eyesight going,
His voice reduced to a whisper, three days
Before he died – he said,
“If anything should happen to me…”
UNTITLED BY DONALD HALL
This poem by Donald Hall shows the father in denial to avoid the sadness that
comes with death. Now I believe the son is angered by how his father handles
these situations especially being his age as shown when the son states “My
father at fifty-one could never speak of dreadful things without tears.” But the
son puts up with it because he understands were he is coming from. “I kissed
his cheek, which was not our habit.” This shows how his son made a last
effort by letting him know he loved him and he has accepted his ways. Seven
months later when his death was near the father makes an effort in saying his
good byes. “If anything should happen to me…” Sad ending because his dad
waited so long to face the end.
RESPONSE TO: UNTITLED
I watched the turtle dwindle day by day,
Get more remote, lie limp upon my hand;
When offered food he turned his head away;
The emerald shell grew soft. Quite near the end
Those withdrawn paws stretched out to grasp
His long head in a poignant dying gesture.
It was so strangely like a human clasp,
My heart cracked for the brother creature.
I buried him, wrapped in a lettuce leaf,
The vivid eye sunk inward, a dull stone.
So this was it, the universal grief:
Each bears his own end knit up in the bone.
Where are the dead? we ask, as we hurtle
Toward the dark, part of this strange creation,
One with each limpet, leaf, and smallest turtle---
Cry out for life, cry out in desperation!
Who will remember you when I have gone,
My darling ones, or who remember me?
Only in our wild hearts the dead live on.
Yet these frail engines bound to mystery
Break the harsh turn of all creation's wheel,
for we remember China, Greece, and Rome,
Our mothers and our fathers, and we steal
From death itself its rich store, and bring it home.
DEATH AND THE TURTLE BY:
Holding on to the last of life
Poignant- keenly distressing to the
Slowly death is sinking in.
The correlation between human
and animal is being made.
The notion of death boggles us. we are
in the dark about this subject.
We learn so much from death. History
from death this is what is worth
We can only live on in memories.
This poem has a strong lesson to teach of life and death. Her turtle is dieing
refusing food and her heart saddens when all is over. With death comes the
universal grief. The question asked time and time again is asked ask once more
“Where are the dead?” And the answer is nowhere to be found. Ultimately
life goes on “Only in our wild hearts the dead live on,…We remember China,
Greece, and Rome, Our mothers and our fathers,…” death itself holds many
memories and that is what can be brought home. This is a wonderful poem on
what is learned from death. The first paragraph shows the death of her turtle
who touches her heart and causes her universal grief. Then comes the second
paragraph the burial and the mourning questions asked of in hopes of closure
where are the dead? But whatever the answer is she learns that the turtle will
only still live on in memories and so the dead live on.
RESPONSE TO DEATH AND THE
Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?
To go down... We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!
And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.
Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.
We all go: only a few, first-class.
TITANIC BY DAVID R. SLAVITT
Fun way to put it. We are all going to die so who wouldn’t want to die first
class. This poet was very good at placing significant information in the
opening and closing lines. The poet starts off with “Who does not love the
Titanic? If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing, who would not
buy?” the titanic was an iconic and powerful machine associated with first
class pleasure. Now death is not associated with pleasure? Is it? “Not so bad,
after all. The cold water is anaesthetic and very quick. The cries on all sides
must be a comfort. We all go: only a few, first-class.” But here Slavitt shows
us if we are going to die why die alone if you can die with the masses and be
remembered and cried upon. So I guess now we see the Titanic as being a first
class death machine. Not so bad after all.
RESPONSE TO: TITANIC
In darkness of the night
I spied him in a tree
Sat I froze by the sight
He was looking at me
The summer's heat became a chill
The angel of death at his kill
My heart skipped with the fright
Blinked my eyes to bet'r see
Glanced back with all my might
Parted he my comp'ny
My chest was quickly pounding still
The angel of death at his kill
ANGEL OF DEATH BY UDIAH
I did rise and take flight
The fear made me to flee
From darkness into light
To free captivity
Unbinding my soul from his will
The angel of death at his kill
Many years since that night
Gazed I on that braz'n be
Mem'ries of still incite
Fears of my slavery
Existence of him makes me ill
The angel of death at his kill
The fear of death is strong in this poem. I believe this poem represents a
person who stares death in the eyes such as a person that has a heart attack or
stroke and with luck gets away. I find the reputation of the phrase. “The
angel of death at his kill” very cleaver. To me the repeated phrase is like a
constant reminder that death could come to take him any time he pleases and
the man knows this all to well. Even when he does escape immediate death as
we see in the 3rd paragraph when it is stated “From darkness into light To free
captivity Unbinding my soul from his will,…” the angle of death still lingers
as shown in the forth paragraph “Mem'ries of still incite Fears of my slavery
Existence of him makes me ill The angel of death at his kill”
RESPONSE TO ANGEL OF DEATH
Somebody’s baby was buried to-day—
The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled
And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and
As I paused on the walk while it crossed on its way,
And a shadow seemed drawn o’er the sun’s golden
Somebody’s baby was laid out to rest,
White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold,
And the soft little hands were crossed over the
And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were
With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.
Somebody saw it go out of her sight,
Under the coffin lid—out through the door;
Somebody finds only darkness and blight
All through the glory of summer-sun light;
Somebody’s baby will waken no more.
Somebody’s sorrow is making me weep:
I know not her name, but I echo her cry,
For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep,
The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep
In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.
I know not her name, but her sorrow I know;
While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more,
THE LITTLE WHITE HEARSE BY
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
Could have had bad
memories. Mood has
Snowdrop- white bell shaped
flowers. Bells symbolize death.
How does she know how this
baby has died?
She cries with the baby
because it had a long life still
She went through the same
thing if she knows the
Resting was a nice subtle
way of putting it.
Seemingly memory of her
kissing her baby good bye.
A great little poem that unwinds its self. A poem of rehashing past grief.
When encountering the coffin where the baby lie, she stopped and all of a
sudden her mood changed. The baby is laid out to rest where she rehashes
her memories of her baby that died. Instead of telling us what happened to
the persons baby witch she would not know she lets us know how her baby
passed. “Somebody saw it go out of her sight, Under the coffin lid” and once
gain she imagines her self kissing him or her good bye. With kisses as hot as
the eyelids were cold. The use of the white hearse rumbling was very
enriching to the poem. This repetition is almost like a point of remembrance,
where its presence brings her back to the past.
RESPONSE TO THE LITTLE WHITE
When these graven lines you see,
Traveler, do not pity me;
Though I be among the dead,
Let no mournful word be said.
Children that I leave behind,
And their children, all were kind;
Near to them and to my wife,
I was happy all my life.
My three sons I married right,
And their sons I rocked at night;
Death nor sorrow never brought
Cause for one unhappy thought.
Now, and with no need of tears,
Here they leave me, full of years,--
Leave me to my quiet rest
In the region of the blest.
A HAPPY MAN BY EDWIN
With the ups and downs of death this is one that has a very happy outlook.
In this poem Edwin is basically saying, though I am among the dead I do not
want to hear a mournful word said. I leave behind children and my wife let
them know I lived a happy life and I married right. Now lets not cry, yet leave
me here where I am blest. The man now dead has no regrets and finds that he
lived a fulfilling life so he wants his family and all to know there is nothing to
mourn for. A great poem seemingly directed to his family . This poem to me
teaches is family that this is his time to go and as long as you live life to the
fullest you have nothing to be sad about.
RESPONSE TO A HAPPY MAN
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face--the face of one long dead--
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died, and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
THE CROSS OF SNOW BY HENRY
The memories of this loved on
is keeping him up at night.
I see a comparison with
the mountains and his
breast where his loved
one lives on.
He still stays true to
her though all these
Sees her as an angel.
This poem was actually based Henry w. Longfellow’s wife’s death.
Longfellow's wife died tragically when an ember from the fireplace caught her
dress on fire and burnt her so badly that she died a few days later. Longfellow
tried to put out the fire, and in his attempt his face was badly burned that he
grew the a long beard to hide the scars. In this poem I see a struggle to let
this tragedy go. He continuously revisits her death witch we know as
compared to Martyrdom of fire or suffering of fire. As I see it he tries to
gains closer by keeping her in his heart or in other words referred to as “a
mountain in the distant west.” Though the eighteen year that she has been
gone time has not made it easier for him but I believe he has since moved on
but the memories of her in his heart has stayed the same.
RESPONSE TO THE CROSS OF
I lay here alone,
on cold concrete and stone,
my body broken and weak,
in recognition of my impending
Only pain and fear I feel now,
as I am slipping away,
how much I desire,
to see the sun rise the next day.
I no longer fear,
my journey ahead,
for it will not be long
and I shall be dead.
For I am at peace
and accept my fate,
help has arrived,
but I fear it's to late.
MY EXPERIENCE OF DEATH
BY DATHAN ELDRIDGE
Taking my last breath,
as I look upon the clouds,
my eyes feel heavy
and I'm hearing muffled sounds.
I am moments from death,
and all I can feel,
is my beating heart,
starting to fail.
All is silent now,
for I am gone,
off on my new journey,
to find my new home......
Dathan Eldridge was very good at using sense triggers and symbolism to
express the feelings one may have at their end. “I lay here alone, on cold
concrete and stone,” here we see loneliness associated with cold or death.
Then Dathan connects slipping away with pain such as when one falls “Only
pain and fear I feel now, as I am slipping away,…” and even in the very same
sentence she says “to see the sun rise the next day.” Rise may not only
expresses the act of being alive just for one more day but also the action of
rising up from her slip or fall. She looks upon the clouds could also mean
looking at heaven. Danthn was able to capture a wide range of emotions and
meanings in just a short amount of time.
RESPONSE TO MY EXPERIENCE
Keillor, Garrison. Good Poems. New York: Viking, 2002. Print.
Wilcox, Ella W. "The Little White Hearse." Family Friend Poems. N.p., n.d. Web.
20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-little-white-
Longfellow, Henry W. "The Cross of Snow." Family Friend Poems. N.p., Oct.
2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-
Robinson, Edwin A. "A Happy Man." Family Friend Poems. N.p., Apr. 2013.
Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/a-happy-
Eldridge, Dathan. "My Experience Of Death." Family Friend Poems. N.p., Feb.
2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/my-
Udiah. "Angel of Death." Poemhunter.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.