Comparison of Four Poems about Loss Essay

Comparison of Four Poems about Loss Essay

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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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