Literary Criticism/Poems for Close Reading with Questions
- 1 I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
- 2 An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
- 3 Cherry Ripe
- 4 One Perfect Rose
- 5 Link to Comparison Exercises
- 6 Comparison Exercise 2
- 7 Comparison Exercise 3
- 8 Comparison Exercise 4
- 9 Comparison Exercise 5
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
Read this poem carefully and answer the following questions
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The turquoise waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be happy,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
- 1. What does Wordsworth compare himself to? Why?
- 2. What does Wordsworth compare the daffodils to? Is the comparison appropriate?
- 3. How is he affected by the experience of seeing the daffodils?
- 4. How does the poem make use of contrast? Consider the contrast between the poet and the daffodils, and between his feeling before, while and after seeing the daffodils.
- 5. Identify examples of the following devices in the poem: alliteration, personification, rhyme, rhythm. How do these devices contribute to the overall effect of the poem?
- 6. What do you think the poet's attitude is towards the following 3 things: nature, memory, loneliness?
Answers to 'I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
1. He is comparing himself to a cloud in the sky, wandering without a destination, as can be seen in Line 1 of the poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud". Since he is in the sky like a floating cloud the poet is able to see all the things and events in the world. He has a comprehensive view but he can only observe the world at a distance. There is the suggestion of perfect detachment. In addition the poet compares himself with the wandering cloud in the beginning of the poem because he perceives himself as aimless and as passive as a cloud, which depends completely on the weather and nature for its direction and speed. Being lonely like a floating cloud in the sky, the poet experiences freedom and loneliness at the same time. The freedom allows the poet to appreciate the beauty of the world whole-heartedly, such as the daffodils. As a powerless and aimless cloud, the poet could only watch and appreciate, but he could not join the daffodils in dancing and fluttering in the breeze. The reader might conclude that the poet recognizes himself as an outcast in his society; that he feels he can only watch silently from afar. The continuing use of the image may further suggest to us that the poet may not be satisfied with what he observes of social affairs and is away from the social trend as he is looking at things from a distance. There is always a distance, psychologically and physically, between the daffodils and the poet. At the end the poet remains living in solitude, but the moment of the daffodils is in his heart, treasured and appreciated.This comparison is quite effective in a sense that it captures the helplessness and a sense of lost of the poet, it also captures the infinite distance between the passive pensive aimlessly cloud (the poets' solitude) and the active cheerful daffodils (happiness).
2. The writer is amazed by the daffodils' number and beauty, thus he compares the daffodils with the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky way continuously, and also refers them as personified characters, a crowd that dances and flutters in the breeze, and tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
3. He is delighted by the wonderful sight. This is explicitly revealed in the use of diction of 'bliss' and 'pleasure', and he is so enjoyable that his heart seems to dance with the daffodils.He also feels the bliss of solitude, because it is peaceful and comfortable to be alone sometimes in such a huge open area, and seeing the flowers seems like happy people, he wants to become a part of them.
In the beginning, he's aloof and prefers to stay in his comfort zone, "Which is the bliss of solitude". But when he witnesses the "gay" and pleasure of the daffodils, he has a desire to be part of that world he has been observing, to join the "crowd" and to belong to the happiness. "And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodils." The fact that only his heart "dances with the daffodils suggests that spiritually, he feels like he is belonged to the group; physically, he still doesn't dare to step out from his little world. Though it may seem that he has stepped out of his comfort zone, still it is only a desire from his heart. Again this may suggest that he enjoys living in a better little world on his own rather than the harsh reality of existing society degraded by humans although he can still feel the beauty of the nature.
4. Comparison: the poet was wandering lonely and aimlessly as a cloud while the daffodils were together as a crowd, lively. He was a bit lost and astray that he held no leading power in the poem.He floats with the wind as a cloud purposelessly.Everything he saw and felt, eg. the breeze, the daffodils, effect his thoughts influentially. He 'wandered', 'floats','gazed', he took a more passive and quiet way to observe the world. In contrast, the daffodils, took a more active part. they 'fluttering and dancing','stretched...along the margin of a bay','tossing their heads',they are enjoying in the breeze and the nice weather by energetically joining and responding to it. in facing the nature, the daffodils seem to have more power in one-self than the poet. in the poem, it states that "but they out-did the sparkling waves in glee", this may suggest that the daffodils even make the world a more wonderful place to live. the world "out-did" can proof it. The sparkling waves represents the mother nature while the daffodils symbolize human beings. Our colourful society grasp the poet's attention at once. The poet thinks that the dance of the daffodils is more attractive than the the waves. Somehow, deep down in the poet's heart, he desires to join the daffodils and be as happy and joyful as they are. futhermore, the daffodils have roots deep down in the earth. they are already tightly binded with each other. clearly, the daffodils represent the individuals, then, we have an idea that everyone, except the poet, has no problem in fitting into the society. in contrast, the loneliness of the poet is then enhanced because everyone enjoy being together, while he has no company at all. Before he sees the daffodils, he is lonely and detached and uses the word "wandering" to describe his aimless floating. As soon as he sees the crowd of "sprightly" daffodils, he is brought to think about the meaning of his life. After seeing the daffodils, he finds out that his heart is filled with pleasure. He feels a lot more relief.however, he still has not joined the daffodils and the nature completely even he feels the pleasure. he lied on his couch and let the feeling and images flash back, only his heart dances with the daffodils; he was still 'lying' on the couch being passive and purposeless .the experience he had of the nature and daffodils is good memory to him and his heart 'opened' a bit, but overall he is more or less the same with his 'vacant or in pensive mood'.
5. Use of Alliteration: "Beside" and "Beneath" (stanza 1),"Ten" and "Thousand" (stanza 2). "Tossing their heads in sprightly dance", are the use Assonance of "s" sound-> soft, comfortable. Simile-> daffodils and stars, end rhyme, rhyming couplets. Run on lines-> fast pace, emphasis the lively pace of the flowers' dance as well as "continuously". End stop lines-> stop and gaze, to treasure some moments for appreciating the beauty of nature. Personification: daffodils dancing, tossing their heads in sprightly dance. pleasantly, the flowers share the same happiness as the poet has. Repetition: gazed, emphasize that he wanted to join in the hilarious dances of the flowers. Inversion: 1)"Continuous as the stars that shine... the margin of a bay" 2) "Ten thousand saw I at a glance"
6. The poet clearly shows appreciation and love for nature and its very influential to him.however his strong feeling of loneliness never fades away even when he sees the beautiful ,absorbing and cheerful sceneries of the daffodils. He is deeply impressed by the beauty of nature, and it remains a very good memory to him. Whenever he is in his 'pensive mood' and being 'vacant', perhaps emotionally and physically, the good memory of the daffodils flash back to him as a 'bliss' and 'pleasure', which release him for a while out of the loneliness and 'solitude' that he is experiencing.
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above:
Those that I fight I, do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love:
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
- a village in Ireland
- 1. How does the airman feel about the cause for which he is fighting?
- 2. Why does he fight?
- 3. What patterns do you notice in the poet's choice of words and what effect do these create?
- 4. Find examples and comment on the poem's use of contrast.
Answers to 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
1. The airman does not really have any feelings towards the cause for which he is fighting. "Those that (he) fight (he) do not hate, Those that (he) guard (he) do not love." He fights but not because he hates the enemies particularly nor he has loyalty in his country, "Kiltartan Cross". He does not fight because of the 'law'and his'duty' Nor does he fight for the 'public men' or the 'cheering crowds'. The airman actually thinks that his fighting is meaningless as he does not have any feelings towards the cause for which he is fighting, but he thinks he would find "delight" or maybe a sense of achievement when fighting, though he realizes that fighting is a "waste of breath". Maybe he fights just because of the fate to join the war and he does feel the meaninglessness of the war but then he cant be against of the war. Therefore he just follow and be against the enemies. He actually is psychologically prepared for death and he is not afraid to face it as he thinks that it would be a glorious contribution. The airman foresees his death and introduced that he would die "among the clouds above". This suggested the idea of heaven, which he would go to after his death. And the idea of war was brought out. The airman seemed not to care whether he was fighting against people he hated or guarding those whom he loved. He thinks he is a hero of the war no matter whatever the result of the war is harsh to accept or not. In here, we could see a sense of detachment from war in him.
2. The sentence "I know that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above" shows that the man actually fights in the war because he thinks it is his destiny. He is destined to fight and to die in the war. He sounds rather detached and he fights only because he believes it is his fate. Maybe he feels that even if he is to have a normal death, he still choose to follow the fate as he may thinks that one's glorious death in war is more superior than an insignificant normal death.
He fights because he feels a sense of loneliness. He does not have a sense of belonging to his own army or his country. As we can see "Nor law, nor duty bade me fight", he is not forced to join the army force because of the government, nor does he join the force because he hates the enemies or to protect the people. Instead, he thinks he would be able to find "delight" and a sense of achievement while fighting. He might also feel that he wants to get rid of the loneliness in his life and go searching for something different. Seen in the line "A lonely impulse of delight drove this tumult in the clouds." This may suggest that he sees himself as one of the small potatoes in that village only and so if he joins the war, he may gain some good comments through his brave acts instead of secretly escaping from the potential death by engaging in war.
He also fights due to his belief of death would bring a "balance" to his meaningless life as his past and future life seem a waste to him.
3. He chooses words like "above", "end" and "death" to bring out the image and his vision of death, and he compares his life using "Drove to this tumult in the clouds." to the clouds, he indicates that he almost reaches the peak and the end of his life. He also chooses miserable dictions like “a lonely impulse of delight”, "waste", "poor", "loss" and 'lonely' to show that he knows his life is doomed, unimportant as he is living in a poor little village. He thinks fighting is aimless. Even life seems to be pointless to him as he says ' The years to come seemed waste of breath/A waste of breath the years behind/In balance with this life, this death.' In addition, there's a repetition of "nor" in "Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,Nor public men, nor cheering crowds". The word " nor" alone has a strong sound and the repetition of it emphasizes the poet's uncertainty towards his intention of fighting in a war. He rebuked every reasonable cause of fighting. He is confused and is not sure whether it is right to fight. Thus, he begins reasoning and finally reaches a conclusion that he fights because of his loneliness and the "delight" that he can get from fighting - at least there is still benefit to his little self.
4. The poet uses a lot of phrases which carry contrasting meanings, "Those I fight I do not hate" contrasts to "Those I guard I do not love". "fight" is the opposite of "guard", and it is the same with "love" and "hate". These two phrases show that he is politically self-conscious. He knows that fighting in the war does no good to Ireland: "No likely end could bring them loss", nor "leave them happier than before". Also, "The years to come seemed waste of breath" and "A waste of breath the years behind" meaning that he feels his whole life is meaningless, no matter before or after the war. For the structure, he also uses alternating end rhymes to emphasis contrast and "balance" throughout the whole poem. The use of contrast also helps to bring out his stance-- neutrality, he is neither on one side nor the other. He is alone-all by his own, feeling nothing apart from loneliness. Moreover, as seen in "The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind In balance with this life, this death", he thinks that his life and his future seem a waste, and death will help to balance his life. He is rather pessimistic about life and is not afraid of death, as it will help to end his meaningless life.
Read this poem and answer the questions that follow.
THERE is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
There cherries grow which none may buy
Till 'Cherry-ripe' themselves do cry.
Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds fill'd with snow;
Yet them nor peer nor prince can buy
Till 'Cherry-ripe' themselves do cry.
Her eyes like angels watch them still;
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat'ning with piercing frowns to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till 'Cherry-ripe' themselves do cry.
- 1. Identify the similes and metaphors in the poem. What effect do they create?
- 2. Is the poet speaking to the woman or about her? How can you tell?
- 3. What do the 'sacred cherries' in line 17 symbolise? What happens to anyone who tries to 'come nigh' to them? Why?
- 4. What is the poet's attitude towards the woman?
- 5. How do you think the woman would react if she saw this poem?
Answers to 'Cherry Ripe'
1.The metaphor that runs through the entire poem is "Cherry" in "Cherry-ripe", which is the image for the rubious lips of the girl described in the poem. This is revealed in the second stanza. The lips enclose the two rows of "pearls", metaphor for the teeth. However, the “cherry” can also symbolize the girl’s vagina, in several parts of the poem. For example, the line “the heavenly paradise wherein all pleasant fruits do flow: there cherries grow which none may buy” the ‘heavenly paradise’ can refer to a sexual experience and therefore the ‘cherries’ will symbolize the female genitalia. The first stanza of the poem is a description of the girl's beauty: roses and white lilies are representative of her fair skin, with a natural blush. Her beauty is compared to a "garden" and a "heavenly paradise", both metaphors. Heavenly paradise can also be a simile for the feelings aroused in a sexual experience.
In the line “They look like rose-buds fill'd with snow,” a simile is used. The girl's lips are so red that they look like rose buds and her dazzlingly white teeth are just like snow. However, the line can also be interpreted so that it is actually a metaphor which is used in the line. The snow can be a metaphor for semen, since ‘rose-buds’ can also mean ‘a pretty young girl’. Thus the sentence actually means ‘a pretty young girl filled with semen’ and this carries a sexual implication.
The sentence “Her eyes like angels watch them still,” also uses simile, she is staring at the boys so much that her eyes were like a guardian angel watching over a person. Simile is again used in the line “Her brows like bended bows do stand”, where the girls’s eyebrows are bended bows that stand guard against suitors who wish to kiss the girl's lips.
2.The poet is speaking about the woman. The pronoun the poet choose to use within the poem reveals to us that he is actually talking about her instead of directly addressing her. For instance, in the first stanza, “her face” is used instead of "your face". Other examples include, second stanza, “those cherries”, “her loverly laughter”, “they”, “them”; the last stanza, “her eyes”, “her brows”. It seems that the poet has been observing the woman for a while and now he provides a description how the lady is like. His description also implies what he has really been thinking about her. His true opinion of her is sexual in nature and lies in the imagery used in the poem.
3.The word “sacred” itself is a biblical term meaning its holy, its divine. The word “sacred” may have two meanings. On one hand, in the eyes of the poet, the lady is precious, as she is out of reach, sacred. On the other hand, this suggests the distance the lady puts between herself and other men. The word “sacred” may also be used to describe something which may be reserved for exclusive use. Cherries symbolize both the lips and vagina here, so the “sacred cherries” symbolizes a wish to save her kisses or remain a virgin until she is ready (hence the title “Cherry-ripe”). Therefore, for those who try to “come nigh” will be rejected as she is vigilant with her “angels” and her “bended bows” and can be rather protective of herself. Not only that she is "threatening with piercing frowns to kill" all those who attempt to suit her with "hand", but she is distancing herself with other men so much that she also threatens those who admire her with their "eye(s)".
4.Dictions that the poet chooses give hints to us about his admiration of the lady's beauty. In the poem, he describe the lady's face as fresh and beautiful. The "roses" and "white lilies" refer to red lips and fair skin; the "orient pearl" small, white, perfect teeth. The simile "like rosebuds filled with snow" refers again to red lips and white teeth. and the lady's “lovely laughter” saying that she is sweet. He describes her as “rose-buds fill'd with snow” implying that she is pure and innocent. He describes her as “orient pearl” praising her, saying that she is precious and worthy yet no one can pay to have her. Yet, this admiration doesn't include any desire of hurrying the lady to be “ripe”. Instead, he thinks that the "cherry" is not "ripe" she is still way too young to get a lover, and he seems to appreciate and accept that fact that no one can get the lady yet.
His admiration, however, also extends to possible feelings of sexual attraction to the lady. For example, the phrase “rose-buds fill’d with snow” might have been used as a metaphor for what the poet imagines when he describes her laughter. In terms of literature, a rose-bud can also mean a pretty young girl. Snow is white, as is semen. Thus, what the poet implies, when he describes her laughter, is a reference to a sexual act with the lady in the poem.
The poet’s attitude towards the women, therefore, may also be that of a sexual nature because of some of the deeper meanings of a few lines in the poem. Another example of this is the line “yet them no peer nor prince can buy”. Them refers to the “cherries”. Here, they symbolize either the woman’s lips or her vagina. ‘Buying’ these ‘cherries’ is a reference to ownership and hence entrance to the woman’s lips or vagina.
Furthermore, the last line of each stanza is a repetition of the line “till cherry-ripe themselves do cry”. The fact that this line is repeated three times may suggest that the poet would like to remind and warn the man who attempt to destroy her virginity, that he has to wait until she is mature. And to play the role as the person to remind others, the poet himself must have a very clear mind about that rule, and so he must have accept the fact that you can't use force to get the lady.
5. She will be delighted for being praised but quite obviously she will feel embarrased or provoked being portrayed like this. She will feel flattered after reading the poem for the first time, as many of the metaphors and similes used are, at first glance, words of beauty and flattery. However, upon further analyzing the imagery used, the true (and possibly more sexual) meaning is found and hence, after realizing this, she may feel disgusted and uncomfortable with such a portrayal of her and her body.
One Perfect Rose
Read the following poem and then answer the questions about it.
A single flow’r he sent me since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
“My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
- 1. How does the woman feel about the man? What do you find out about the nature of their relationship from the poem?
- 2. Identify old fashioned diction and syntax in the poem. What effect does this create?
- 3. Is the poem serious or funny or both? Why?
1. The man is the narrator's admirer, he has sent a "single flow'r" since they ever met. The sentence "Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet" shows that his love has never faded away. It is still fresh like the morning dew. His love is deep and true and it is so pure that it is not based on any material things or appearance. "Love long has taken for his amulet", he has loved her for a long time already, but he could not please her because she is actually looking for wealthy man who can at least send her "one perfect limousine". Unfortunately, he can only send her "one perfect rose" instead of what she really wants. In stanza 3, She makes a comparison by saying that she prefers a man who can afford sending her a big and glamourous car (It doesn't necessarily be a limousine), than this man with true love and only one single flower. At the end of every stanza, there is a repetition of "One perfect rose", a short and simple sentence conveys the simplicity and what the persona actually thinks. Besides, a sense of sarcasm and bitterness was expressed throughout the poem. She thought of the past sweet memories she had had when a "he" sent her flowers.
2. The poet makes good use of old fashioned diction and syntax. For example, in stanza 1, "A single flow’r he sent me since we met. All tenderly his messenger he chose." She uses inversion to make it sound more musical. Moreover, she uses elision, a special way of spelling words such as "flow'r" in stanza 1, to emphasize the subject. Rose is a commonly known symbol of the one and only love. The use of old fashioned diction and syntax enables the poem to be more romantic, sophisticated, and also more musical. Except for the three-times repetition of "One perfect rose" in every stanzas, the other lines all have 10 syllables(just like the format of a sonnet), this empahsis how simple and obvious the love of the man appears. The use of old english and old fashion syntax emphasis the ancient love from the man to the woman, he has loved long.
3. Both. The poet is serious in the sense that she knows clearly that the man loves her truly and deeply, but she cannot love him in return because he could not meet her expectations of an ideal lover. And she is serious in expressing her disappointment about not being able to meet the perfect man she wants, but rather, meeting a man who would not send her anything more other than "ONE perfect rose".
She knows clearly the message he wants to bring out by sending her a rose again and again. She knows he has been admiring her for a long time and that his heart is fragile, she does not want to hurt him and that she sympathizes him for his "unrequited" love. The poet uses two stanzas mentioning "the perfect rose" and the man while there are only two lines about the limousine. "Its always just my luck to get one perfect rose" she has no experience in meeting anyone who would send her a limousine before. For her, it is like a dream. She knows exactly something like meeting a wealthy man may not happen to a girl like her.
On the other hand, She is also being humourous and funny. In the end of the poem, she finally reveals how she feels. She does not find it romantic that the man sends her a perfect rose. Instead, she thinks that the man is very "stingy" and mocks how little she actually receives from him. It is particularly funny when she askes a rhetorical question "Why is it no one ever sent me yet one perfect limousine, do you suppose?" By being ironic, she successfully arouses readers' attention; and it creates a similar effect when she mocks at herself "Ah no, it's always just my luck to get one perfect rose." This not only appears to be very ironic and mocking, but it also turns everything mentioned in the first two stanzas to be ironically funny.
Link to Comparison Exercises
Comparison Exercise 2
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
a) The author describes the experience of accompanying a Burmese prisoner to his execution while he worked with the British Colonial Police Force in Burma in the 1920s.
It was about forty yards to the gallows . I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily. At each step, his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves into the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path. It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying; he was alive just as we are alive. All the organs in his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.
From ‘Burmese Days’ by George Orwell (1903-1950)
b) In this blues song, Allen describes the bodies of black Americans who have been killed by racist gangs.
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Lewis Allen (1890 – 1954)
Suggested Answers to Comparison Exercise 2
1) Are we invited to empathise with the victims in these passages or to feel alienated from them?
Both passages invite the readers to empathise with the victims.
In the prose passage written by George Orwell, Orwell gives a detailled description of the prisoner to be executed and the process of proceeding to the gallows. By describing the "bare brown back" readers are told that the prisoner's upper torso must be naked. He does not even have clothes on. The diction of "marching" seems to suggest the dignity he still holds and that he has accepted the fact that he cannot rebel, and his only choice is to accept his fate. That he is walking himself closer to his death step by step makes us empathize with him. Orwell describes the experience of sending the man to death as "the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting life short when it is in full tide", showing his sense of guilt and sympathy towards the prisoner. He also suggests the prisoner is actually "not dying", he is "alive" like everyone of us; the seconds in his life go on, still all the same as all men on Earth, "walking together", "seeing", "feeling", "understanding the same world".
The only twist is, "in two seconds" and "a sudden snap", the prisoner would be gone, and "one mind less, one world less" - we lost a men in our world within such swiftness, one less man to share our mind and world. Orwell points out the cruelty of death.
Looking at the context of the political situation in Burma, this prisoner was probably a political prisoner who is persecuted under the barbaric regime. During the time period, hundreds of Burmese prisoners were tortured and killed each day. Genocide against minority nations on the borders took place, as well as the imprisonment and killing of people who dared to speak the truth about the political situation. This is similar to the blues song, where innocent people are persecuted of their identity. Because these people have not done anything wrong but are killed, this rouses readers' sympathy.
In the blues song, Allen compares the dead bodies of black Americans to a "strange fruit". Allen describes the scene of dead bodies in details; "blood" on the bodies which are "hanging" and "swinging" from the poplar tress in the southern breeze. By describing the horrible scene, "bulging eyes and the twisted mouth" and with smell of "burning flesh", the black Americans are killed without any sympathy from others, and they die painfully, the author points out the the cruelty of the cold-blooded racists; he condemns them as what they have done destroy the peace in the "gallant south", contrasted with the original serenity, as depicted in "sweet and fresh" and "scent of magnolias". The originally peaceful pastures are no longer peaceful now, the blood of the "strange fruit" - "strange", as of an odd colour, in the racists' eyes - shed on them, and the tragedy will continue, for there will always be other races and more racists who will persecute people different from them--"here is a strange and bitter crop".
As the two passages both portray the pain and suffering of the victims, it is reasonable to assume that the authors are to arouse readers' sympathy and invite the readers to empathize with them.
It could be argued, though, that the poem actually alienates readers.
The choice and style of language and tone of a piece are some of the things that directs readers to feel empathy or alienation.
If we contrast the two pieces in terms of their focus, content, and especially style and tone, we can see very big differences. The prose excerpt focuses on inner thoughts and feelings within the narrator, while the poem focuses on images and descriptions of the horrible sight of corpses hanging from the trees. The prose excerpt is in first-person narrative, a straightforward, honest tone, while the poem is in a slightly detached voice.
Content-wise, in terms of descriptions of death, the prose obviously has more mild descriptions – the description of the hanging is only briefly presented as “with a sudden snap”, and death is brought out with the thought that “one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less”. There is little or no bloodiness and violence. The narrator focuses more on his contemplations of life and death, rather than lengthy elaborations on the horrifying and bloody scenes of execution. The narrator lets us into his mind, and does not hesitate in pouring out directly and elaborately his thoughts and feelings in a very open, straightforward, honest, and wistful tone, letting us feel closer. This makes it easier for readers to empathize with the soon-to-be-hanged prisoner. Whatever crime the prisoner has committed, he is still very much alive, a living being, and it seems cruel (and even a waste) to take away from him that right to live.
In comparison, the poem does not have detailed description of feelings. Focusing on the poem, two things might alienate the reader: the VISUAL images painted, and the SOUNDS of the words.
The images portrayed are strange and vivid. If we think deeper to understand the imageries lying behind, we can feel the grotesqueness of the scene described – that the strange fruits hanging on the trees are actually dead bodies, which will be leave out to corrode and be pecked at by birds. Because of it’s unusualness, it’s strangeness, it’s vividness, readers might feel alienated, and choose to shudder instead of having time to develop empathizing feelings.
The descriptions can be seen as having a COMICAL touch. “Mouth twisted and eyes bulging” is quite comical, while “Swinging in the breeze” conveys a sense of light-heartedness.
When one is trying to convey sad feelings, the tone would usually be grieving, mournful, and slow. Dragged-out long vowels or heavy sounds, for example, might be used to create such effects. However, this poem, when read out in a certain way, can actually be quite fast-paced, with a rather perky air. The all-too-rhyming rhymes, such as “rot”, “drop”, “crop”, sounds rather chipper. It does not seem to bring out a very sad or gloomy atmosphere.
“Blood on the leaves and blood on the root” sounds a bit overly straightforward and simplistic for describing such a brutal and horrifying scene of bloody and even corroding bodies being hung on trees.
Repetition of “strange fruit” makes us wonder if it is really enough to convey the immense pain lying behind these deaths.
The scene painted is vivid, colourful, too much like a picture. Things like “sweet and fresh” flowers, magnolia, which are also known for being showy and brightly coloured, creates a jolly, pretty mood, which normally doesn’t seem to fit in with violent and disgusting bloodshed and deaths that well.
Throughout the poem, the poet just describes mostly visual scenes (of the bodies hanging from trees). There is practically no direct expression of thoughts and feelings, no confessions of pain. In conclusion, the tone and the style is so strange and vivid and grotesque at the same time, while the sounds are rather chipper and some places even comical instead of being very mournful, that it might all make readers rather alienated, rather than empathizing.
2) How is imagery used in each passage?
In the first passage, one imagery used is the “puddle”, the prisoner stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path. On one hand it shows that he is mentally and physically healthy and vigilant, on the other hand the puddle may foreshadow his doomed fate of being executed, and that his vain attempts to avoid the puddles will not be able to help him to escape from it. The “yellow gravel” and “grey walls” paint a picture of the monotonous splashes of colours at the prison, or perhaps the image may relate to grave (which is a symbol of death).This emphasizes the fact that the prisoner is doomed, and providing a touch of depression or death by making use the dull colours.
In the second passage, “strange fruit” bore by the southern trees is the symbol of the black people (strange as in different in skin colour) that will be ruthlessly killed. There is "blood on the leaves" and "blood at the root", depicting the large amounts of blood shed by these poor black people who have lost their lives to racists.
3) Which passage do you find more shocking? Why?
The poem is more shocking. The atmosphere is mysterious and creepy, and the moment of "scent of magnolias" being replaced by "smell of burning flesh" is a twisting point. It indicates how a life is beaten by death in a glimpse. Also, "blood on the leaves" and "blood at the root" is a description of an unusual scene, it makes readers feel uncomfortable. Especially whent he poet uses the "strange fruit" to symbolize the heads of the black people being hanged. The prose passage is a description of a prison on the way to execution, the author's feelings are what usual people will feel about the scene, so it does not surprise preaders much. Comparing to it, the poet uses irony to emphasize his detestation to the racists irrational killings of black people.
What is the author's stance in each passage?
The author of the prose passage does not think the prisoner deserves death. When the prisoner avoids stepping on the puddle, the author realizes that he is same as any of the others. He sees what others see. The author thinks sentencing a healthy men to death is an "unspeakable wrongness" and inhumane. He thinks all human beings are equal, there is no difference among any of us as human beings, and executing men is taking away one's right to live. He is sad to see a healthy man being executed, as he thinks he is as important as any other human beings, to the author, the death of the Burmese prisoner means "one world less".
Although the poet seems to be a calm narrator, he actually feels sad for the black people and thinks it is brutal to kill them. The author shows how he thinks about black people in stanza 2. "Pastoral" and "gallant" suggests that the author is being sacarstic, he is using some positive words 'praising' the scene of killed people being hanged all around. He describes the "bulging eyes" and "twited mouth" as "gallant", which shows his sadness and sympathy towards the black people. Here the author presented his unpleasant feeling, he disagrees on the act of killing black people. The scene described after the tree being destroyed is unpleasant, crows will "pluck", wind will "suck", sun will "rot" the fruit. It is a place where people will not want to get near to. Through the unpleasant atmosphere created in the poem, we can see that the poet doesn't think killing black people because of racial discrimination is right.
4) Can you find instances of contrast and irony? What effect do they have?
Contrast can be seen in A. When the prisoner still alive, the author describes his moments, how his muscles and his body functioned in detailed. "muscles slid nearlty into plave", "the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down", "bowels digesting food"," skin renewing itself" etc, the detailed description of his body movement emphasizes the fact that he is still alive, still a living thing. A contrast will be formed when later on the author said " with a sudden snap", "one mind less, one world less", he just simply uses few words to describe when the prisoner dead, "one mind less, one world less", a contrast is created, when he is alive, author uses terms and different phrases, to depict it, however after the prisoner dead, no movement, living cell is dead already, so no need further explain of descibe.
In passage B, "fruits" is used to compare and make a big contrast to the dead bodyies of the defeated, because fruits are like new born lives, while the bodies are actually dead and their lives come to an end. It is also an irony in the sense that in the comparison, one thing is born (fruit), one thing is killed. In the scene which "bulging eyes and twisted mouth" is associated with "pastoral scene of the gallant south", is more ironic when human being who are suppose to gain respect from all things now being treated as an object or a fruit "for the crows to pluck, rain to gather, wind to suck, sun to rot, and trees to drop". The irony presented shows that dead bodies are useless and being treat as an object, gaining no respect. Or on the other hand, it shows that the poet think death as a trivial thing which doesn't need to be fear.
Comparison Exercise 3
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
Do you know the road I live in – Ellesmere Road, West Bletchley ? Even if you don’t, you know fifty others exactly like it.
You know how these streets fester all over the inner-outer suburbs. Always the same. Long, long rows of little semi-detached houses – the numbers in Ellesmere Road run to 212 and ours is 191 –as much alike as council houses and generally uglier. The stucco front, the creosoted gate, the privet hedge, the green front door. The Laurels, the Myrtles, the Hawthorns, Mon Abri, Mon Repos, Belle Vue . At perhaps one house in fifty some anti-social type who’ll probably end up in the workhouse has painted his front door blue instead of green.
That sticky feeling round my neck had put me in a demoralized kind of mood. It’s curious how it gets you down to have a sticky neck. I had no illusions about myself that morning. It’s almost as if I could stand at a distance and look at myself coming down the road, with my fat, red face and my false teeth and my vulgar clothes. A chap like me is incapable of looking like a gentleman. Even if you saw me at two hundred yards’ distance, you’d know immediately – not, perhaps, that I was in the insurance business, but that I was some kind of tout or salesman.
The clothes I was wearing were practically the uniform of the tribe. Grey herring-bone suit, a bit the worse for wear, blue overcoat costing fifty shillings, bowler hat, and no gloves. ‘Five to ten quid a week’, you’d say as soon as you saw me. Economically and socially I’m about at the average level for Ellesmere Road.
From Coming Up For Air by George Orwell (1903-1950)
I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner;
I have a Slimline briefcase and I use the firm’s Cortina.
In every roadside hostelry from here to Burgess Hill
The maitres d’hotel all know me well and let me sign the bill.
You ask me what it is I do. Well actually, you know,
I’m partly a liaison man and partly P.R.O.
Essentially I integrate the current export drive
And basically I’m viable from ten o’clock till five.
I do some mild developing. The sort of place I need
Is a quiet country market town that’s rather run to seed.
A luncheon and a drink or two, a little savoir faire -
I fix the planning officer, the town clerk and the mayor.
And if some preservationist attempts to interfere
A ‘dangerous structure’ notice from the borough engineer
Will settle any buildings that are standing in our way –
The modern style, sir, with respect, has really come to stay.
John Betjeman (1906 – 1984)
Answers to Comparison Exercise 3
Comparison Exercise 4
Write a critical discussion of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/or contrast.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The Outpost Trench was about 200 yards from the main trench, which was now our front line. It had been solidly made, ten feet deep, with timbered fire-steps, splayed sides, and timbered steps at intervals to front and rear and to machine-gun emplacements. Now it was wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption. Concrete strong-posts were smashed, and tilted sideways; everywhere the chalky soil was pocked and pitted with huge shell-holes; and wherever we looked the mangled effigies of the dead were our memento mori . Shell-twisted and dismembered, the Germans maintained the violent attitudes in which they had died. The British had mostly been killed by bullets or bombs, so they looked more resigned.
But I can remember a pair of hands (nationality unknown) which protruded from the soaked ashen soil like the roots of a tree turned upside down; one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture. Each time I passed that place the protest of those fingers became more expressive of an appeal to God in defiance of those who made the War. Who made the War? I laughed hysterically as the thought passed through my mud-stained mind. But I only laughed mentally, for my box of Stokes gun ammunition left me no breath to spare for an angry guffaw . And the dead were the dead; this was no time to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives. Such sights must be taken for granted, I thought, as I gasped and slithered and stumbled with my disconsolate crew. Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull.
From Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon
Answers to Comparison Exercise 4
Both (A) and (B) are about war. For (A), the line 'Take up our quarrel with the foe' suggests the dead died in the war. For (B), ' the War' is mentioned and the 'trench' and 'Germans' also suggest the Second World War. However, different attitudes towards wars are shown in the two sources. (A), written in the dead's point of view, supports the idea of wars. The dead died with regrets, as they 'shall not sleep' if the people who are alive 'break faith with [them]'. They wanted to take revenge against their enemies. They ask the ones who are alive to take 'the torch' which they throw to them. A completely different attitude is shown in (B), which is written in the point of view of a living person who once experienced the war. He asked 'who made the War', showing his disapproval of the War. He does not want to take revenge, as he says the 'dead were the dead'. He believes it is not the time 'to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives'.
The setting is also described in detail in (A) and (B). For (A), the whole of the first stanza is contributed to describe the 'Flanders field' in which the dead lie. For (B), the outpost trench is described in great details: the exact measurements of the depth of the trench, how far it was from the main trench, what it was made of etc. the settings are similar in a sense that they both are associated with death/destruction. The Flanders field is where the dead lie whereas the trench was where many lost their lives. But different moods are created by the two setting. For (A), the Flanders fields seem to be rather peaceful, with the 'poppies [blowing] between the crosses' and 'the lark, still bravely singing'. But for (B), the trench was 'wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption' and 'concrete srong-posts were smashed, and tilted sideways;...' Things are destroyed in the war and it creates a gloomy feeling.
The scene in poem A is set in a graveyard - Flanders Fields, while that of poem B is set when a soldier is fighting in a war. The mood of poem A is more calm and peaceful compared to that of poem B. Poem B describes the war scene in vivid detail, portraying a more realistic picture.
Poem A opens with a description of the graveyard where the dead soldiers lie. The mood here is quiet and serene. "and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below." This phrase suggests that the souls of the dead are like the larks, looking down at the war still going on from above. The dead are portrayed as brave, courageous souls who have lost their lives for an honourable cause.
Readers are able to feel a sense of poignancy in stanza 2. "Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields." In this phrase, the dead express their sadness as their lives came to an abrupt end. However, although they are dead, their souls linger and live on because of unfinished business. "To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high." Here the "failing hands" refer to the dead soldiers. The throwing of the torch symbolizes the dead soldiers handing over their duty to the living who are still fighting in the war. Because they did not live to see the battle won, they hope that the living will be able to lead the battle to ultimate victory.
Poem B has a rather different point of view concerning war and the dead. Soldiers seem to die with feelings of hatred and blame, instead of sadness and bravery. "one hand seemed to be pointing at the sky with an accusing gesture." The writer believes that the soldiers die blaming God for war and death. "this was no time to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives." We sense no poignancy in this sentence, even at the time of death. Rather, the soldier regards his life as "silly" and "outraged" and deserves no pity. "Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull." The last sentence symbolizes that the soul dies along with the human body, which differs greatly from the idea presented in poem A.
Poem A is set in the Flanders Field, which is rather peaceful, while passage B 's setting is a battlefield full of horrible scenes of death and destruction of war.
Poem A 's beginning has a calmer and more serene atmosphere. In the field poppies blow, larks, still bravely singing but the last line of the stanza Scarce heard the amid guns below suggests the theme of war. Still it is not so terrible.However, passage B already starts with violent and disturbing scenes of a war. The trench, which was supposed to be strong , was wrecked as though by earthquake and eruption, pitted with huge shell-holes. wherever we looked the mangled effigies of the dead were momento mori. gives readers a sense of horror.
The personae of Poem A and the narrator of Passage B hold a completely different attitude towards war. The personae in Poem A, who are dead soldiers have a more positive attitude. It seems they will never give up fighting their enemies and their morale will always remain high as the lines Take up our quarrel with the foe and If ye break with us who die/We shall not sleep demonstrate. They might even feel gratified for their death for the war as they are Loved and were loved. But the narrator in passage B , who is an officer in war, has a negative attitude. He can sense the protest of those fingers became more expressive of an appeal to god in defiance of those who made the war. which probably shows that he opposes to the war. And he is possibly very desperate and sad about fighting in a war since he laughed hysterically about the idea Who made the war?
Poem A only shows the idealistic side of war, with images of dawn and sunset, only guns suggest there is violence. Passage B describes war in horrifying details. the Germans maintained the violent attitudes in which they had died. The British had mostly been killed by bullets and bombs, so they looked more resigned proves dying for a war is not gratifying.The appalling Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull arouses feelings of fear of war among the readers.
The poem and the passage are probably aimed at spreading messages of war in different views. The poem, with the gratified feelings of the dead soldiers and their determination to drive away foes, possibly encourages readers to join the war to serve their country since they can beLoved and were loved.The passage, with the detailed terrifying scenario of war, like horrible deaths of soldiers, destruction of land, the officer's desperate feelings of war,promotes the message of peace and opposition to war through deriving the sense of fear from readers by the horrible imageries of the reality of war.
Comparison Exercise 5
Write a critical appreciation of the following TWO passages, pointing out features of comparison and/ or contrast.
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can "see the folks"; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without "the blues".
Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications.
I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls. Let me suggest a few comparisons, that some one may convey an idea of my situation. I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray? And yet it has not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters. The sun is alone, except in thick weather, when there sometimes appear to be two, but one is a mock sun. God is alone - but the devil, he is far from being alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion. I am no more lonely than a single dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel , or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.
From Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
B)The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
In prose A, the author does not focus on the advantages of being alone, but he writes mostly about the contemplation of the world he rejects, his society. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are.He uses 'old musty cheese' as the metaphor, which is primitive yet it can be so harsh and cutting since it is strikingly vivid. It does show his unconventional view of company as he never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.It is rather like a paradox, yet it further emphasizes how solitude is enjoyable to him. Yet in poem B, the poet does not criticise much about the modern world, but he only talks about his feelings and plans. I will arise and go now , and go to Innisfree. shows that he has not achieved living in solitude as Prose A's author. He wishes to escape to be free with his mind. Innisfree can mean 'inner freedom'. He wants to have his inner freedom by building a small cabin by the lake and living alone in the bee-loud glade'. He only emphasizes his wish to have a simple life, by creating a picture of peaceful rustic simplicity living in the cabin by the Lake Isle to be detached from the urban city with solitude and isolation. "Small cabin build" also shows the poet determination of living alone. He doesn't expect anyone to live with him that's why the poet only plans to build a small cabin.
From the prose we can see the author is philosophical, or cynical about social conventions. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. demonstrates his sensitivity to the communication among the people. He can sense they may dislike each other, and he doesn't want to see this frequently so he chooses to find refuge in the solitude instead. Unlike the poet, he shows his strong desire to 'arise and go' somewhere close the nature where he can live alone. However, he didn't portray a negative view of the society that he's living in.
The author points out how ironic it is that people living close to one another and meeting frequently, does not help to improve their relationships. Instead, those are what drive people even farther from friends as a result of "losing patience" from meeting too frequently. The tone is sarcastic and cynical.
He idealises peaceful solitude and avoids the society's tedium.God is alone - but the devil, he is far from being aloneBeing alone can be sacred to him while the society may be too ' polluted ' for him to endure. Also he uses examples of a farmer working alone, and the lonely lake with blue angels to explain how he prefers solitude to the society, which makes the prose rather argumentative.However, in poem B, the poet merely shares his aspiration to live alone in the countryside without much argument. He appreciates the beauty of nature with the linnetsin the evening and midnight's all a glimmer . He still expresses his dislike towards the urban world he is living in by contrasting the beauty of countryside, like the bee-loud gladeand the singing of crickets, to the pavement grey, where the dullness of modern life emerges.
Both the poet and the author uses the style of repetition to further emphasize their love or desire for solitude. In Prose A, the use of repetitive use of I am no more lonely than to highlight the normality of solitude in the nature and to conclude his determination to live alone in the countryside. While in poem B, the use of and go now, and go is a powerful repetition for showing his strong aspiration to go to Innisfree. Yet the poet even uses inversion repeatedly. And a small cabin build there...and Nine bean-rows will I have there... helps foreground the visual image of a cabin and turns readers' attention to the picture instead of the action of building. It romanticizes his wish to live in solitude by the lake and serves as an old-fashioned structure to escape from the modern world and the invertion of the line also makes a sharp emphasis on his strong desire to go.
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Both prose A and poem B involve a countryside setting. In prose A, Thoreau uses examples of farmers, ponds (i.e. things often found in the countryside), etc. to illustrate and explain his point about his enjoyment of solitude or his lack of companionship. This is also evident in his choice of words, like "the folks" and "the blues", which are distinctly countryside-like terms. In poem B, it is also the descriptions of countryside ("live alone in the bee glade") that seem to set the poem in the countryside. Prose A and poem B both seem to praise and enjoy being alone; they find the solitude more enjoyable and more comfortable. Thoreau talks about this quite thoroughly throughout his piece and Yeats mentions it in his poem a number of times as well.
From the prose, the author is having a contemplation of the society where he found is commonly too cheap. He found himself different from the others like he didn't feel the way that other people did. He was different in a way that he found being alone enjoyable. It can be seen from his choice of words such as 'the folks', 'the blues' etc. This is what other people usually feel unpleasant with, however, the author has a totally different feeling.The author uses oxymoron such as 'companionable as solitude' to create a sharp emphasis on how different he is comparing to the other people in the society. And 'etiquette and politeness' are described as a kind of rules which as well how the author is cynical and philosophical about the society. It can be also seen in the prose that the author is appealing directly to his emotion.
Both prose A and poem B are also quite different when Thoreau makes negative, argumentative comments about company, for example, "to be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome" and to him, company means having to "agree on a certain set of rules...". Yet Yeats focuses on his ideal world (peaceful, quite nature) and future plans (building a small caibin and living alone).
The two writers of the two passages expressed their desire to live in a quiet and peaceful countryside while at the same time appreciating the beauty of nature. Both passages describe them being alone in an isolated island where they have "solitude" accompanying them. The author of the prose seems to be avoiding the tedious society and is cynical about social conventions. He made use of colloquialism ("loon", "folks", "solitude") to show he wanted to turn his back on modern life and he is already living in the countryside. Unlike the writer of the prose, the poet described his aspiration and plans to live in the countryside. The sounds of nature("cricket sings") provides a contrast with the urban, modern life("pavements grey").
Both passages discuss the main theme of loneliness versus solitude. It is common for people to say that they are lonely when they are alone, by themselves. But in these two passages the narrator and poet describes how they like to be lonely and the main reason for that is because, to them, solitude doesn't equal to loneliness and being alone doesn't make them feel lonely. On the contrary, the writer of passage (A) believes that being in company of others makes him feel lonely.
In the passages, they both state that they wouild like to be away from civilisation. In passage (B), the first line suggests that he is going to leave the place he is at now and head for nature and solitude. Also, in the last few lines, he is standing 'on the roadway' or 'on the pavements grey' suggests that he is in a place that is like a city, with roads and pavements but 'in the deep heart's cone' he wishes to be among nature. Similarly, passage (A) shows the narrator to be in civilisation, with other people but he dislikes this situation ('To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome') He likes the idea of being alone with nature and his thoughts, '...he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts.'
In passage (B), the poet uses a contrast of colours to create an image and appeal to readers' senses. In the middle stanza, the poet used 'a purple glow' to illustrate the beauty of nature whilst in the last stanze, he used 'pavements grey' to represent the dullness and boredom of civilisation and city life. Whilst in passage(A), the writer takes a further step with nature and uses it as metaphors, building up a positive image of solitude. 'I am no more lonely than a single dandelion...' In discussing solitude and company, passage (A) also gives reasons why the writer would like to avoid civilisation. Using a paradox, 'I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude', the writer states that companionship is not as everyone sees it. He believes that the rules (for example 'etiquette') we have when we interact with each other is to make sure we can be 'tolerable' to others and not 'come to open war'. When we are alone, or rather, in solitude, we do not need these 'rules'.