IF but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"
Then would I bear, and clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased, too, that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
--Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan....
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.
Firstly the word 'hap' means 'that which happens by chance.' The poem is a sonnet, although it is presented as three stanzas in that the traditional octave is split into two stanzas each of four lines and the sestet is a stanza on its own. The rhyme scheme is every other line rhymes. The poem reflects an atheist’s philosophy of life and is told from the point of view of a young man. The major themes in the poem are faith, and suffering. The speaker is experiencing a crisis of faith as the poet is trying to find answers to whether there is a vengeful god up in heaven or is it a world merely ruled by chance. Suffering is evident as the poet speaks of his pain and anger which is intensely felt from his struggle to find answers to his questions of this indifferent universe and as he imagines that there is supposedly a vengeful god who strives against mankind and feeds on human suffering; the poet is struggling to resolve an extremely difficult crisis with such god. Lines 1-4 (first stanza) of the poem the poet reasons the possibility of a vengeful god up in heaven who is looking down at earth, laughing at the pain and suffering mankind goes through. He wants to hold such a spiteful god accountable for supposed evil actions. He wants a response from such a god to whom man’s deepest anguish is his/heaven’s absolute joy. In line 5-6 “the narrator could "bear it" (the sorrow and love's loss) better than if there were no conscious entity to credit. It is human to want to blame somebody or something other than one's self for one's problems. If he could blame this god, the narrator would then “clench myself and die, steeled by the sense of the ire unmerited”, meaning that then he would know that God made him suffer, strengthened by the fact that he got his answer and so he would be completely alright dying hating god. Line 7-8, he would be a little at ease by the knowledge that he is victim to some more powerful than himself has willed and caused the tears he shed. The last stanza explores why bright possibilities and happiness fail as the writer firmly acknowledges the impossibility of his desired dialogue because no such god exists. Lines 9-10 begin with a short abrupt sentence "But not so." which denies the beginning of the imaginary happenings. There is no "vengeful god" that can be blamed when "joy lies slain" and "sown" "hope" "unblooms”. He asks questions that he instead answers to prove fact that he has given up the struggle with an absent opponent and has decided to find the answers himself, and is finally able to relate his misfortunes to “crass casualty”, which is a lower order suggesting that there is no higher law or reason; cause and effect only works on a lower order which is chance. Lines 11-14 describe that “crass casualty obstructs the sun and rain" which seems to point back to the image of line 10, where hope is "sown" only to "unbloom." Time and casualty are what determine man's merits or fortunes. The "pain" the “doomsters” (judges) dispensed could have "readily" been "blisses" for all they cared; neither reward nor punishments for man’s actions are considered. The poet uses techniques such as rhetorical questioning in lines 10-12, to enhance the flavour of this poem, as it also gives off a dramatic irony as the writer proves his point that god does not...
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