The excerpt from Mary Oliver’s “Building the House” serves as a way to describe what happens during the poetry writing process. Although Mary Oliver believes that writing poetry is hard work, she uses extended metaphor, juxtaposition, and point of view to describe the writing process in comparison of building a house, which shows that Oliver sees poetry as something that involves mental labor which is a different challenge than physical labor .
Through the use of extended metaphor, Mary Oliver is allowed to express both the mentality and physicality when writing a poem, which is able to show the differences and similarities by comparison. The extended metaphor works to compare the process of writing poetry to that of building a house, as seen firstly with the title, “Building the House.” Adding on, Oliver says, “...a stiffness of the fingers, a refusal of the eyes to follow the aim of the hammer toward the nail head...” Through this extended metaphor, Oliver is attempting to show that like construction of houses and writing poetry, there is a lot of labor whether it’s physical or mental is involved. By comparing these two unlike things, it is seen that although they are different tasks, they share the same difficulty. She continues by contrasting how a poet only sits and “scribbles some words upon the page” and how the construction worker or architect is more of a labor because he/she “draws and measures.” This goes to show that what she lacked in her job as a poet was physical motion, yet it is a hard task for her, as is attempting to carefully nail an object to another.
Mary Oliver uses juxtaposition to draw attention to the differences and similarities of writing poems and other types of work or labor to bring attention to how different tasks have different challenges just as do poems. “The dance dances, the painter dips and lifts and lays on the oils; the composer reaches at least across the octaves...” The juxtaposition of how different workers work...
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