March 30, 2011
With Death, She Escaped Spring
Poems are small windows that look into a person’s soul and often convey deep emotions using figurative language. A poet can hide their darkest thoughts in a poem and leave it up to the reader to find their true message. Sometimes, poems do not hold a message at all and are meant to be taken as literally as they sound when read aloud. While “In Memory of Jane Fraser,” written by Geoffrey Hill, is filled with figurative language that creates a clear picture for the reader, there is no secret in those words. It is simply a poem that was written in remembrance of a woman and there is nothing more to find.
The title of the poem alludes to the fact that it is about someone who has passed away and the major theme throughout the poem is death. “In Memory of Jane Fraser” is set during the season of winter and winter is most often corresponded with death. Most living things die during the long, cruel months of winter and await their rebirth in the spring. Unfortunately, this fate is not the same for human beings.
There is an abundant amount of figurative language used throughout this poem, to the point where it almost spills off the page. The first line, “when snow like sheep lay in the fold,” uses a simile to compare snow to the soft, warm wool of a sheep. It also creates the image of fresh, powdery snow lying on the ground. The next three lines of the first stanza stick to using personification to give the illusion of winds begging at the doors, hills being blue with cold, and a cold shroud laying on a moor. Geoffrey Hill gives the weather conditions a personality of their own—one that is bitter about the winter that lies ahead. A picture of a rough winter is created, one with harsh winds that rattle the houses and freeze the hills.
The second stanza of the poem compares the woman to a bird using a simile in the line, “we watched her brooding over death like a strong...