An Analysis of On the Other Hand

An Analysis of On the Other Hand

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An Analysis of "On the Other Hand"  

"On the Other Hand", what is on the other hand? Rachel Hadas tells about the living, the dead and shows the reader the other side of usual thoughts about the dead and living. She lists the faults of the living and the virtues of the dead, in order to explain her first statement, "it is no wonder why we love the dead". Yet, then turns everything around again in the last statement of this free verse poem. Rachel Hadas poem, "On the Other Hand" clearly depicts the many differences of the "brittle, easily wounded" living and the "patient, peaceful" dead.

In the first stanza of the poem, the dead are said to be admired in a way because of all the flaws that the living inhibit. The living are said to be "ungrateful, obsessive" and "needy, greedy, and vain".  This approach of describing the living lets the reader see a side of life that he may not have noticed before. The living usually have certain connotations with the good and the joys of life; however, "On the Other Hand" shows the other side, the negatives of the living.  The living are easily hurt and non-virtues. The way the word, opacity, is used makes the reader think of the living to be cold-hearted, incapable of penetration. Hadas is obviously stating that the dead are better in comparison to the living because of the numerous imperfections of the living.
 
In the second stanza, Rachel Hadas, goes on to emphasize her point of the dead deserving more praise than the living by the listing of the virtues that the dead posses. While the living are "needy and greedy," the dead are "better at resisting wishes". Hadas also describes the dead to be "blithely", or carefree, while the living do not have that luxury. A great amount of comparisons between the living and the dead is being accented in the second stanza of this thought-provoking poem. Such as the dead to be "deliberate", and the living being said to be "impulsive".

The first two stanzas of Hadas's poem truly give the title its meaning. The reader is forced to see the other side of the usual thoughts of the living and dead. Hadas is in fact showing the reader the "other hand", or other side of the situation.  She continues this approach in the first part of the third stanza; telling of the ability that the dead have to "glide across the hours" with time being no boundary to them.

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The dead have no haste, instead the live in "peaceful places, in unhurried silence". All this relates back to the first line of the poem, "no wonder why we love the dead", explaining her reasons for adoring the dead.

However, just as the reader has adjusted to this new view of things, he is shown the one negative side to being dead. The last statement of the desperate longings of the dead, presents the reader with another turning point in his views. The last lines portray the dead as "desperate presences hammering at the gates", illustrating the dead to be longing for something. The reader tries to distinguish what the "gates" are; possibly these gates are the gates to life. It would make sense that the dead are, in their free, careless, and un-timed existence, in fact longing of the happiness of being social and alive.

"On the Other Hand" gives the reader the opportunity to view things in a new manner. The author of this poem is able to link the whole function of her poem directly to the title, and she uses some remarkable words to bring her point across. The irony of it all being that the last two lines, present a different perspective from the rest of the poem, yet again.

 

 
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