W.S Merwin’s For the Anniversary of My Death and Yusef Komunyakaa’s Facing It both revolve around themes of death. Each author’s approach to the subject is vastly different, yet there are also striking parallels. Both poems were filled with imagery, which caused me to pause and consider how I relate to death, be it my own imminent demise, or the death of those around me.
For the Anniversary of my Death, is a poem depicting the tale of a man who realizes that death is unavoidable. Each year as we go about our daily business we all without celebration, pass our individual death anniversaries. We have no way of knowing when this day is and few of us take the time to contemplate this truth. Most of us are living our lives in fear of that day, attempting to get as much life as possible into our allotted time. Few of us take the time to think that it may even be tomorrow, and if so what have we truly accomplished.
Facing It tells the story of a Vietnam Veteran visiting the memorial for the first time, he stands facing the memorial, reviewing the names, unconsciously in search of his own name, as though he can’t believe that he has truly survived the war. He is facing the Memorial, but he is also facing his past, facing his humanity.
Merriam Webster defines imagery as language that causes people to imagine pictures in their mind. However imagery is more than just pictures in your mind. When I read a good book or poem, I become completely take away, it’s so much better than television or a movie. I can hear the rain falling or the birds chirping. I can taste the fried chicken or the cold lemonade. I empathize with the characters, I have been known to laugh out loud, or cry on many occasion while reading. In my opinion a good use of imagery is an essential attribute of a good writer.
In the poems I have chosen to compare there is a significant presence of imagery. While reading The Anniversary of My Death, I could almost feel the relief of a sunny...
Cited: Merriam Webster Dictionary. 2013.
X J Kennedy Dana Giola. Backpack Literature. University of California: Pearson, 2012.
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