Poetry and Time

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DISCUSS SLESSORS USE OF TIME AND OUT OF TIME IN HIS POETRY

Slessor’s compact oeuvre details his struggle with time. However, his longing to be out of time merely highlights the supremacy of time over human life and nature. Slessor utilises familiar elements in an attempt to gain a better understanding of what he cannot comprehend.

Moments captured out of time are short-lived illusions, though despite their brevity Slessor believes they are beautiful. In Out of Time, the first two stanzas in the third sonnet are Slessor’s illusions of a moment captured in ‘the sweet meniscus of time’. This moment is captured as Slessor remains ‘with the golden undertow’, moving against time for a brief moment. In this moment out of time Slessor observes a scene, which defies not only time but also other conventions such as gravity as the gulls rise ‘backward’. Slessor’s language in these stanzas (‘golden’, ‘sweet’ and ‘bubbled’) are contrasted against the harsh words (‘stabbed’, ‘pale’ and ‘faceless’) through the remainder of the poem and show through contrast Slessor’s awe at the beauty of the ‘moment’s world’. However Slessor is taken back to reality at the end of the third stanza by ‘the suck of sea’. When Slessor is ‘Out of time’ his disobeying time which has power even over nature. Consequently, under the instruction of time, the sea brings Slessor back to the constraints of time and reality as it continues its relentless pursuit of fate. In Five Bells Slessor struggles to comprehend the death of his friend: Joe Lynch. At the beginning Slessor is under the illusion that he may be able to ‘hear the voice’ of the ‘dead man’ despite the impenetrable ‘pygmy strait’ that he knows exists between life and death. Slessor is frustrated that Joe is trapped in a flood of time and that he himself is taken away by time, leaving Joe ‘anchored’. Despite this knowledge Slessor employs illusions and imagery as he tries to break the constraints of time and reach his friend. The first...
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