Live and Let Die
“True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the past and future.” This quote by the Roman Philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, represents the theme of the poem, Golden Retrievals, by Mark Doty. The poem displays the relationship between a distracted owner and his exuberant Golden Retriever. As the human contemplates both the past and future, the dog attempts to grab his owner’s attention and help him enjoy the moment, just as the dog does constantly in his life. While displaying the relationship between the owner and his dog, Doty is able to portray the human problem of living in the past and future through the integration of literary elements such as persona and imagery.
The persona of the poem demonstrates the theme as it remains upbeat, enjoying the moment regardless of the human who contemplates both the past and future. It is apparent that the persona influences the underlying message of the poem because it is joyful and erratic behavior throughout the poem. In the first line of the poem, it says, “Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention/seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so” (LL 1-2). The dog starts out the poem displaying its excited nature by shifting thoughts from fetching balls and sticks to possibly catching them. Since the dog is so excited about the objects around him, he feels true pleasure from the present. However, the persona describes his master in the story as “haze-headed” (LL 12), because he is caught in reflection about the past and future. The Golden Retriever illustrates his master by saying, “…you’re sunk in the past, half our walk, /thinking of what you can never bring back” (LL 7-8). The persona describes master’s reflection as unnecessary because he is occupied in thought which has already transpired. Although the persona indicates no evidence of its master’s sadness in his thoughts of the past, it is clear that the human cannot be truly happy like his dog by living in the...
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