People have individual strengths, weaknesses, and individual capabilities, all of which are dependent upon human nature. While these characteristics are often difficult to alter and influence, humans, nevertheless, wish to change them. They are never satisfied with their appearance, never content with their lives, forever attempting to change, but in the end, always find themselves at the starting point, realizing that they, in fact, have not changed at all, for they have not accepted what they want. The citizens in David Wagoner’s narrative poem, “The Man Who Spilled Light” are no different. How do they face change which they cannot accept?
Beginning in media res, the poem starts out recounting the situation where a man brings light to his city. After he sees fear among the people, who claim that the shadows in the dark are “dangerous”, thereby “crouching” to hide themselves from the darkness, the man goes to help them overcome their terror. Later, he realizes that their fear of darkness ultimately leads to their yearning for something different: light. He, who can be seen as an altruistic, but spontaneous man, sees their desire for light, their desire for change from a world of darkness, and decides to give them such change. In a “hurry to bring it to the city”, the man is not careful enough, and acts too rashly, spilling the light everywhere. Symbolically, truth, represented by light in this poem is something the people did not have, but was able to accept. When the people are forced to face light, however, they find its various forms too overwhelming, as it exists in “star-….”. At first, they try to adjust, try to accept as they “[line] up with their backs to the walls”. Later on in the poem, however, they appear they are not ready to, as they are merely “dazzled” by such overwhelming knowledge. Wagoner demonstrates irony in the poem, as the people, who were accepting, did not accept the truth in the end. However, such rejection can not be blamed upon...
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