Review: Dead Man Running

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The human condition is an inevitable, fundamental issue that faces us throughout our life time, and how to address the emotions we feel inside of us is a quest many of us face. We are consistently reminded of the human frailties we possess and seek for a way to free this burden set upon us. John Clare and Andrei Voznesensky are two poets that have expressed themselves through poetry, to remind us that love is an essential part of the human condition, and with love also comes the inescapability of heart break.

Voznesensky’s poem ‘First Ice’ illustrates the pain of first love’s end, experienced by a girl mentioned in line one. Using visual and tactile imagery, the poem effectively depicts the instantly recognisable theme of ‘heart break’. This is outlined in the strong use of symbolic meaning in the word ‘ice’ positioned throughout the poem, which is evident in the concluding line “the first ice of human hurt”. The readers are positioned in a way to see the ‘other side’ of love which creates a feeling of empathy toward the girl freezing in the telephone booth. This feeling of empathy is echoed through the use of sensual imagery that allows the reader to physically feel the cold and pain that is described, such as in line 6 “Her fingers are icy”. In comparison ‘First Love’ created by John Clare begins his poem with the lines “I ne’er was struck before that hour with love so sudden and so sweet” inferring that the theme of his piece is the unchanging and universal theme of romantic love. Through the use of both poems’ timeless theme, they are instantly elevated to the realm of an endless struggle regarding the human condition; love.

The timelessness of the theme is supported through the different cultural backgrounds and time periods known to the authors. Clare was born in 1793 in England to an illiterate and poverty stricken family. A reflection of the Victorian era is clear in ‘First Love’ through the clichéd techniques and familiar language used within...
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