Comparing Beggars and The Sailor's Mother

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Analysis of Beggars and The Sailor's Mother

As is obvious, the stories contained in the Wordsworthian poems "Beggars" and "The Sailor's Mother", despite being contemporaneously individual and distinct, are intrinsically linked. The underlying message which the notable author seems to be trying to communicate is that the poor and afflicted are possessed of a greater nobility of spirit than may generally be accepted in society. In each instance, as in others, Wordsworth seeks out the quiet dignity of such individuals, uncovering and emphasising positive aspects of their character and lives. Even when he allows negativity to creep into his tone, it becomes an almost paternal remonstration ("yet a boon I gave here, for the creature / Was beautiful to see — a weed of glorious feature.") In his encounter with her children, despite their evident lies, the narrator is neither judgmental nor harsh with them for this; he goes on to describe them as "joyous Vagrants", displaying that love of the affable rogue common to all genial 'men of the world' — even going so far as to wish supernal gifts upon them ("Wings let them have.")

The poems both have in common the use of pathetic fallacy very early in each poem: the weather is "raw", "wet" and "in winter time" for a melancholy tale, and casts forward "summer's ... heat" for a far more cheery and positive encounter. This not only immediately provides a recurrent frame of reference for anyone familiar with some of Wordsworth's other poems, but is a statement of the author's intentions for the rest of the narrative. In both instances nature and weather references repetitively enter and sustain the poem's form and mood: "a crimson butterfly", "yellow flowers the gayest of the land", "...

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...ence of style also: the fact that exactly one half of the verses of "The Sailor's Mother" are a chronicle of her son's life-story give Wordsworth only odd lines of those verses in which to inform us of the mother's continuing life story — a task which he fulfils admirably. Though the phrase "[she] begged an alms" is used in both poems, there is a humbler nature inherent to the sailor's mother than the "haughty" Amazonian — she is more obviously pious and truly in need, no "weed" is she, and says "God help me for my little wit!" in self-deprecation. There is something as charming as the roguish nature of the beggar boys in the way she carries this bird with her; a feeling as strong, though Wordworth induces it through differing methods. This is the power of his poetry: he makes us feel the lives of others; he makes us feel that life has something to offer.
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