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Essay on Poetic Conversations

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Throughout his villanelle, “Saturday at the Border,” Hayden Carruth continuously mentions the “death-knell” (Carruth 3) to reveal his aged narrator’s anticipation of his upcoming death. The poem written in conversation with Carruth’s villanelle, “Monday at the River,” assures the narrator that despite his age, he still possesses the expertise to write a well structured poem. Additionally, the poem offers Carruth’s narrator a different attitude with which to approach his writing, as well as his death, to alleviate his feelings of distress and encourage him to write with confidence.
Carruth particularly chooses to title his poem, “Saturday at the Border,” because Saturday signifies the end of the week and is a day of rest. This symbolizes the narrator obtaining ultimate rest from this world after his death. The border serves as a metaphor to his narrator traversing the border between life and death in the near future. The author of “Monday at the River” titles his poem so, to present to the other narrator an alternate way of viewing his upcoming death. Monday, the first day of the week, generally denotes a new beginning, a clean slate; similarly, the poet presents to the other narrator an opportunity to start anew and dismiss all thoughts of death. The river, a body of water that flows on into larger bodies of water, symbolizes life; the author assures the aged narrator that his life will not end, but rather, move from one place to another—from a river to an ocean. The two bodies of water, the ocean and the river, differ in their sizes and in their titles. However, the same water flows through both, meaning, the two are essentially the same. Similarly, the poem implies that life and death differ merely in their titles. Therefore,...


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... narrator urges him not to give up because eventually, he will be able to reach his goal and write a ‘Proper Villanelle.’ Moreover, the perseverance will help enhance his life now by giving him reason to continue living.
“Monday at the River” manages to directly confront most of the issues Carruth’s narrator faces and offers various ways in which he can resolve them. Furthermore, by following up all her claims with examples such as presenting a villanelle in its standard form to urge the narrator to adhere to standard structure, the author of “Monday at the River” successfully conveys its message to the other poet.



Works Cited

Carruth, Hayden. "Saturday at the Border." The Making of a Poem: a Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. By Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. New York: Norton, 2001. 15. Print.
Murdakhayeva, Regina. “Monday at the River”. 26 June 2011. Poem.


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