Otherwise Commentary

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Otherwise Commentary
The poem Otherwise is short, simple and eloquent. The author, Cilla McQueen, describes two lovers that are located on “opposite” sides of the world. McQueen uses the title to emphasize the conflicts. The speaker’s emotions are expressed through two main themes; love and distance. Imagery and diction maximize the emotions associated with these themes. Additionally, she uses many literary devices throughout the poem for effect. From the onset, the title Otherwise is vital to the poem foreshadowing conflict, contrast and turmoil. The word sets the scene for two different sides of love. In this case, love is not presented as joyful and precarious but rather as agonizing and painful due to distance. It is the title that influences the structure of the poem and emphasizes the contrasting ideas. A physical divide can be observed between the conscious state of reality, stanza 1, and the subconscious state of dream, stanza 2; each stanza representing two very different perspectives of love. Finally, the title is intimately connected to the poem as it is echoed and punctuated in line 5, “where water spirals and the moon waxes otherwise.” The main themes found in the poem revolve around love and distance. Love is the predominant theme. It is the distance that causes the suffering and the agony. The poem opens with the speaker stating, “I come from an opposite country from yours”. The reader is immediately involved in the love story understanding that the lovers are located in different countries as mentioned in line 6 “stars assemble in unfamiliar patterns”. Constellations give different perspectives depending on where one is in the world. The distance quantified by the footnote clarifies the “opposite country” means “the speaker comes from the other hemisphere.” This vast distance can infer that the lovers are from different cultures. As the speaker’s love for her lover becomes apparent so too does the distress and torment that the couple...
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