“Thoughts on Capital Punishment” vs. “Traveling through the Dark”
William Strafford’s “Traveling through the Dark” is a well developed short poem, but it lacks the depth of Rod Mckuen’s “Thoughts on Capital Punishment.” These two poems present animals killed by automobiles, but Mckuen’s approach differs from Strafford’s in two ways. First, Mckuen uses poetic language more strongly than Strafford. Second, “Thoughts on Capital Punishment” points out a more distinct, clearly stated, complex theme. In comparing language of the two poems, “Thoughts on Capital Punishment” gives a wider, more descriptive choice of words and phrases open to ideas. The language of “Traveling through the Dark” seems almost thinner by comparison. Mckuen’s phrase “unspeakable, unpardonable crime,” and words prime and purgatory, for example give susceptible points across that vehicles killing animals on the road is wrong and therefore should be punished. Actually, Strafford does not give as strong of a word choice to get his point across, nor does he say it is wrong. His poem is strictly about a doe in particular that was found on the side of the road. Strafford does not use figures of speech as widely as Mckuen does and actually only seems to use slight personification, which really isn’t relevant to the idea of the poem at hand. Mckuen’s “fatherless chipmunks and husbandless does” gives a strong point as to not only are you killing the animal with your vehicle, but you are also affecting that animals family, assuming they have a family. Whereas, Strafford’s “under the hood purred the steady engine” does not give a meaningful point for the killing of the animal, it gives reference to the vehicle, which isn’t needed. As far as the language of the two poems, Strafford lacks complexity, but in fairness still gets his point across. His poem has strong imagery to bring emotion to the deceased animal, but fails to point out the bigger picture at hand. In theme, however,...
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