How does Randall Jarrell use the imagery in Durer’s engraving of the knight, the devil and death to symbolically convey a philosophy of life using powerful poetic devices?
‘The knight, Death and the Devil’ poem written by Randall Jarrell, based on the engraving by German artist ‘Albert Durer’ depicting a valiant knight, on horseback treading along the path of life. A path beset on all sides by many obstacles, and the dark forces ranged against the knight in his journey. Created in 1513, Durer’s engraving’s key characters include a Knight in armour, riding along a narrow road with the grinning devil at one end and on the other, a figure of death in the form of deceased knight. Jarrell uses the elements of the vivid imagery contained in the engraving and deploys precise language rich in dense descriptions to project Durer’s images into the readers mind. In picking out the powerful detail from Durer’s work Jarrell appears to have put significant effort into tailoring the language into a from word imagery which adds to the original work. The poem is divided into four individual stanzas, the first three discretely conveying the key characters from the engraving these being ‘The Knight, Death and Devil’. The fourth and final stanza is devoted to synthesising the imagery conveyed in first three to underpin the central message in Durer’s work, which is of a man of faith on his journey resolutely overcoming the obstacles presented by his protagonists. The first line of the stanza contains three descriptive words which appear to have been specially crafted by the Poet to serve as preceding clues to clear opening statement on the second line that confirms that “Death is a scarecrow”. However this is no ordinary scarecrow. Death has a top for a head embellished with ringlets of snakes. Snakes are often associated with death. The head tilting at the Knight can be considered to be death’s attempt to beckon the Knight. Jarrel reinforces the death symbolism by...
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