How Do Poems Use Language to Create Imaginary Worlds That Question Our Understanding of Human Nature?

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Poppies by Mary Oliver and A Martian Sends A Postcard Home by Craig Raine, with the use of unconventional metaphors and extremely detailed observation encourage us to look upon the ordinary in a way that leads us to explore our own human nature.

Unexpected connections between a previously ordinary object and something that at first seemed totally unrelated can paint a picture of another context within which we can better examine our own existence (Hirsch). This is demonstrated quite well in A Martian Sends A Postcard Home in nearly every stanza, with the alien viewpoint of everyday things leading to considerable thought about the things we take for granted. The line, “At night, when all the colours die” is a particularly vivid way of describing day turning to night and implies the alien land must be either bright all the time or of another dimension where night and day have no meaning. Similarly, Poppies describes a field of flowers in terms that evoke the passage of life itself, with lines such as, “Of course nothing stops the cold, black, curved blade from hooking forward--- of course, loss is the great lesson” describing night falling, the death of a flower as it wilts and the blade of a scythe, invoking images of the Grim Reaper (Wu).

All these observations are made as metaphors as opposed to similes, forcing the reader to consider each point as being the same thing as that which it is being compared to. In doing so, the reader is actually is involved in surmising the meaning of the passage through the metaphor, in collaboration with the author (Hirsch). This allows the reader to have a deeper connection with the work than merely taking in what the author is putting across, in a way that encourages extensive internal processing of the ideas more than just a literal and factual description of the ideas the author wanted to portray may have. In Poppies, when Oliver says, “…that light is an invitation to happiness…” the reader is invited to think...
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