Essay Absence, Loneliness, and Filling the Void in “Zero Degrees”

Essay Absence, Loneliness, and Filling the Void in “Zero Degrees”

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The feelings of loss, or the void of a distant love are both attached to forms of grieving, and are symbolically tied to darkness, melancholy, and other negative things. The loss of a loved one, either to death, distance, or disagreement results in distress that often is expressed in many different ways. Solitude, longing, woe, and lament are the usual results of lovesickness, or grieving, and are forms of dealing with a loss of a relationship either physically, mentally, or both. When first reading “Zero Degrees” by Elizabeth Spires, my initial image was of the upcoming winter; cold, dark and long. The image of a person lamenting the absence of a loved one during a cold night, where the bedding itself is a reminder of what is lacking evokes feelings of solitude and sadness. These concepts all express a lack, or a void, something as humans we all strive to fill, and in the process, fear. In this essay I will look to uncover how ”Zero Degrees” conveys the concept of void and mourning in the context of relationships and nature.
The beauty of poetry is the ability to cross boundaries of description that prose cannot reach. In poetry there does not need to be a linear structure, a plot, or a coinciding reason for everything. Thoughts can become objects, emotions can become environments, and objects can become subjects. It is these qualities that I found in “0 Degrees” by Elizabeth Spires that drew me to undertake a further exploration of this poem and the symbolic elements of nature, memory, and emotion that work in tandem to draw in the reader. The title itself draws attention by the connotation of “Zero Degrees”, which in weather terminology, is the point in degrees Celsius where water freezes. Freezing or immobility is a theme ...

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... as well as a tendency to question what caused us to be left alone. Filling the void of loneliness is an experience tied to human awareness, and with that awareness comes the potential for despair, be it a temporary absence or a permanent one. The concept of loss haunts all of our nights, cold or not, as it reminds us of our own temporality in the world.

Works Cited
This is in progress – I just notated my sources for the draft in lieu of a fully MLA formatted works cited page.
Source – Elizabeth Spires’ poem
Source – Catharsis in psychoanalysis (Critical Theory by Tyson)
Source – Color definition White/black guilty secret quoted definition 1 quoted definition 2

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