Essay on Death in Poetry

Essay on Death in Poetry

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Death in Poetry


Numerous themes are found in poetry. One recurring theme that we have
encountered this year is death. It is the main focus of Stevens' "The Emperor of
Ice-Cream," Frost's "After Apple-Picking," and Whitman's "The Wound-Dresser" and
is hinted at in many other poems. This essay will discuss how the different
poets treat the subject differently in relation to various aspects of
composition, such as style, form, theme, tone, imagery, metaphor, and diction.
Whitman describes the horrible scene that he sees as a nurse on a battlefield,
including injured and dying soldiers. Frost describes life and death in a
metaphor of apple picking. The narrator of his poem has lived a sufficient life,
and now tires of it. In "The Emperor of Ice-Cream," Stevens uses strange imagery
to describe the funeral of a woman that no one seems very attached to. The three
poets use different approaches on the theme their poems.

These three poems have very similar styles. All of them follow the same
rules for capitalization, wherein only the first letter of every line is
capitalized (unlike other poems we have read, such as E. E. Cumming's completely
lowercase works and Emily Dickenson's German-like capitalization of nearly all
nouns). None of these three follow any strict rhyme or meter. Whitman doesn't
seem to like to use rhymes or meter at all in his poetry, but Frost and Stevens
throw rhymes in occasionally and have an appropriate tempo set by the meter.
Frost uses rhymes to keep the poem going, but Stevens uses rhymes to give his
stanzas closure. The rhetorical questions in Whitman's poem are there because of
all of the questions humans have regarding death. Frost and Stevens are just
tellin...


... middle of paper ...


...man uses a realistic approach, accurately describing what
it was like in the hospital with the dying soldiers. Whitman is sad to see all
the soldiers die, but has realized that it must happen. Frost's approach is that
of a masterful metaphor. The narrator of his poem, unlike with Whitman, is fully
ready to die. The narrator is prepared to travel into the unknown "sleep" that
is death. Stevens took yet a different approach on death. He portrayed the
strangeness found around death with his eerie poem. "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
is the most unsettling of the three poems, even though it does not comment on
whether death itself is good or bad. In fact, this chillingly neutral stance on
death is mirrored by the neutral viewpoint of his poem. Even though these poets
chose different methods to relay their ideas, the theme of death was a common
element.

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