Comparison of Four Poems about Loss

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Comparison of Four Poems about Loss I am comparing “On my first Sonne” by Ben Jonson (a pre-1914 piece of poetry, written in 1616), “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning (a pre-1914 piece of poetry, written in 1845), “Mid-Term Break” by Seamus Heaney (a piece of poetry from the Heaney bank) and “Cold Knap Lake” by Gillian Clarke (a piece of poetry from the Clarke bank). The poem, “On my first Sonne” is about the loss of a close family member, Ben Jonson’s first son, who died at the age of seven. The poem is about the poet coming to terms with the truth, that his first son had died and he would never see him again. In the poem, the poet goes through different stages of grief and he is very emotional about his loss. The poem opens on an emotional note, “Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy; My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.” Even though, in the 1600’s, the death of a child was very common, the poet expresses deep sorrow for his loss. He talks about how he committed a sin: of loving his son too much when his son was lent to him, and he paid the price (his son died). “Seven yeeres tho’wert lent to me, and I thee pay, Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.” “My Last Duchess” also deals with the loss of a close family member, the Duke’s wife. The Duke shows his visitor a portrait of his late wife, which is kept behind a curtain. The Duke tells the story of The Duchess who “had A heart – how shall I say? – too soon made glad, Too easily impressed.” The Duke explains how “she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody’s gift.” He felt that he could not speak to her about it and the situation became worse. In the end, he says “I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped tog... ... middle of paper ... ...w what Browning’s attitudes or feelings toward the Duke, the Duchess, or their situation actually were. Heaney, in “Mid-Term Break,” describes the scene in his household and it becomes obvious that the whole family is devastated by his brother’s death. The reader understands the emotions of each family member through the poet’s young eyes. At the end of the poem, when Heaney is alone with his brother’s body, we sense the poet’s acceptance of his brother’s death. Clarke, in “Cold Knap Lake,” paints a vivid picture of the dramatic rescue of the child from the lake. Through the poet’s words, we can feel the shock of the crowd, the pride in her mother and the relief when the child breathes again. We also sense Clarke’s astonishment when the child is “thrashed.” Finally, at the end of the poem, Clarke expresses uncertainty about the reliability of memory.
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