Thomas Kinsella Sample Answer
“Kinsella’s poetic world is one of darkness and decay, relieved by glimpses of insight and acceptance.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? Support your answer with suitable reference to the poetry of Thomas Kinsella on your course.
Poems: Mirror in February
Thinking of Mr. D
The world of Thomas Kinsella’s poetry is one shrouded in darkness and decay, yet frequently relieved by cautiously optimistic moments of insight and acceptance. In Mirror in February, we meet the poet as he has “reached the age of Christ”, i.e. thirty-three, and this truth causes him to reflect on the nature of his own mortality. He observes the “open soil” almost as he would a grave, which leads on to his insight in front of the mirror. The poem highlights an important difference between human beings and the plant life that surrounds us. Trees and plants are ‘renewed’ each spring when they bloom again. Human beings, by contrast, are not ‘renewable’. Once our youthful beauty passes, it is gone forever. This is a hard fact for Kinsella to accept. The sight of his ageing reflection reminds him of his inevitable death:
“Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth”
It is understandable, the poem suggests, that we might flinch or ‘quail’ in the face of these unpleasant facts of human existence. There is a tone of sadness and resignation about the poem’s last lines – all we can do is accept that growing old is part of the human condition: “I fold my towel with what grace I can Not young and not renewable, but man.” ‘Chrysalides’ deals with a transitional stage of development that awakens in Kinsella a realisation of the horror of ageing and the fleeting nature of youth. The poem begins with a jovial account of the carefree days Kinsella spent as a teenager. However, the poem becomes increasingly...
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