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Commenatry/ Analysis on the Poem “the Pike” by Ted Hughes

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Love and Death
(Analysis of “When You are Old” and “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” by W.B.Yeats)
Ⅰ. Love
In William Butler Yeats poem "When You Are Old," an anonymous narrator requests of a former lover to remember her youth and his love for her, creating a surreal sense of mystery that only reveals some shadows of his own past love life.
Yeats' diction changes as the poem progresses from stanza to stanza. In the first stanza, I believe the narrator is a man, who wrote this poem for his beloved to read after he died. His beloved is growing old, sitting next to the fire to keep warm (as you grow older your skin thins, and you are more susceptible to cold temperatures). He wants her to remember her youth; he wants her to remember the good times and the bad. People inevitably change over time, and he wants her to remember the innocence that she once had; how her youthful naivety filled her with unwavering hope for a wonderful future. In the second stanza, she was a great beauty that was loved by many when she was young; the boys were captivated by her charm, and youthful attitude. There was only one man that loved who she was on the inside; the others were merely attracted to her beauty. He loved her adventurous soul. He loved her during the good times and the bad; his love was unwavering. In the third stanza, He is looking down upon her from Heaven's glowing gates; he is sad that he had to leave her, but he leaves her this poem. He paces the heavenly mountains, eagerly awaits the time when they will be reunited. He hides his face in the stars, so that she can't see his pain.

W.B. Yeats has created rhythm in his poem "When You Are Old" by using a familiar meter, simple rhyme scheme and by enhancing these forms with effective poetic devices and substitutions. Yeats uses the form, iambic pentameter, to create a steady rhythm. The use of a simplistic rhyme scheme does not mean the poem is simple by any means. In fact, it is just the opposite. The use of an ABBA CDDC EFFE rhyme scheme is a strategic decision by the author to help create constant rhythm and repetition. Each stanza is one long poetic sentence that is held together with rhyme. The rhyming couplets in the 2nd and 3rd lines make the rhythm flow. The last word of the 4th line enhances the lyricism, completing the thought by connecting the 1st line with rhyme.
Along with his expert knowledge of poetic form Yeats uses a wide range of poetic devices to create rhythm. In this line he uses a substitution foot with alliteration to enhance his theme and make the happy memories more memorable to the reader: "How many loved your moments of glad grace." The themes of romance and loss are important and are elaborated on with the personification of Love: "Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled and paced upon the mountains overhead and hid his face amid a crowd of stars." These devices are used appropriately because they stay within the steady rhythm that has already been created, adding to its overall effectiveness.
In summarization, W.B. Yeats experimented with many forms of poetry in his career and has a deep understanding for the presentation of the subject matter. He demonstrates this by creating a perpetual rhythm that when varied can be analytically recognized. He uses the familiar iambic pentameter; ABBA rhyme scheme; and wide range of literary devices to present his poem with a stable rhythm and smooth flow.
Ⅱ. Death
“An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” is one of Yeats’s most explicit statements about the First World War, and illustrates both his active political consciousness (“Those I fight I do not hate, / Those I guard I do not love”) and his increasing propensity for a kind of hard-edged mystical rapture (the airman was driven to the clouds by “A lonely impulse of delight”). The poem, which, like flying, emphasizes balance, essentially enacts a kind of accounting, whereby the airman lists every factor weighing upon his situation and his vision of death, and rejects every possible factor he believes to be false: he does not hate or love his enemies or his allies, his country will neither be benefited nor hurt by any outcome of the war, he does not fight for political or moral motives but because of his “impulse of delight”; his past life seems a waste, his future life seems that it would be a waste, and his death will balance his life. Complementing this kind of tragic arithmetic is the neatly balanced structure of the poem, with its cycles of alternating rhymes and its clipped, stoical meter

This short sixteen-line poem has a very simple structure: lines metered in iambic tetrameter, and four grouped “quatrains” of alternating rhymes: ABABCDCDEFEFGHGH, or four repetitions of the basic ABAB scheme utilizing different rhymes.

The speaker, an Irish airman fighting in World War I, declares that he knows he will die fighting among the clouds. He says that he does not hate those he fights, nor love those he guards. His country is “Kiltartan’s Cross,” his countrymen “Kiltartan’s poor.” He says that no outcome in the war will make their lives worse or better than before the war began. He says that he did not decide to fight because of a law or a sense of duty, nor because of “public men” or “cheering crowds.” Rather, “a lonely impulse of delight” drove him to “this tumult in the clouds.” He says that he weighed his life in his mind, and found that “The years to come seemed waste of breath, / A waste of breath the years behind.”

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