Traveling Through The Dark By Maxine Kumin Essay

Traveling Through The Dark By Maxine Kumin Essay

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Traveling through the Dark by William Stafford and Woodchucks by Maxine Kumin are both short poems dealing with cruel acts perpetrated towards animals. In Traveling Through the Dark this takes the form of the author pushing a dead deer, pregnant with a still alive foal, off a cliff. Meanwhile, in Woodchucks the narrator attempts to gas and later shoots the title animal in a manner reminiscent of Nazi’s persecution of Jews in the Holocaust. While these poems are on similar topics, differences in their meaning appear when looking deeper. Woodchucks uses a fairly regular rhyme scheme and a series of short sentences and phrases, diction heavy with weapon references and allusions to historical atrocities, and detailed descriptions to create a maniacal tone, which is thus critical of many human actions. Meanwhile, Traveling uses a form similar to a couplet but lacking rhyme and meter and with an extra stanza, an emphasis on car diction and interesting use of pronouns, and description shifting from the deer to the car, creating a tone threat shifts from reverent to distant, making the actions of the speaker seem weighty, but necessary.
Woodchucks uses and altered rhyme scheme and heavily punctuated structure to help create a sense of unease in the poem. Composed of four six-line stanzas, the poem contains a rhyme scheme of ABCACB within each stanza. While it is a regular rhyme scheme, it is a fairly unusual one, helping their be something standing out as different about the poem. In addition, there are several instances of slant rhyme in the poem such as “worse… course” in the third stanza and “keeps…sleep” and “dream… unseen in the pivotal fourth and final stanza. These instances of slant rhyme also indicate a slight unease in the poe...

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...mplicit and quick, as the narrator “pushed her over the edge.” This short sweet description, make the death seem significant yet removed, helping it seem more acceptable.
Both Woodchucks by Maxine Kumin and Traveling Through the Night by William Stafford are poems about animal’s deaths that recognize the significance of their deaths, as evidenced by the descriptions they give of the animals. However, Woodchucks with its rapid pacing, detailed death scenes, and references to feared ideas, jams the death down the audience’s throats. Meanwhile, Traveling takes a slower pace and pulls focus away from the deaths, making the death be more acceptable. Thus Woodchucks shows how human nature can make killing a horrible experience and a flaw of man, while Traveling Through the Night shows that while difficult and horrible, sometime a kill is the right thing for a person to do.

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