What Are Heavy

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“What Are Heavy” – Christina Rossetti
In the children’s poem “What Are Heavy” by the Victorian poet, Christina Rossetti, the author uses two speakers in order to show the contrast between the innocent curiosity of a child and the wisdom of an adult who attempts to answer the child’s questions truthfully while preserving the child’s innocence by simplifying an extremely complicated topic. Exploitation of the truth leads to the attainment of knowledge, from the attainment of knowledge comes the acquisition of wisdom, and consequently, the acquisition of wisdom results in the destruction of innocence. The speaker explores the importance of both innocence and wisdom and leaves it for the reader to decide whether or not the sacrifice of innocence equals the acquisition of wisdom. The use of dual speakers helps illustrate the theme of the importance of both blissful innocence in youth and the obtaining of knowledge of the inconvenient truths in adulthood. The speaker touches on four main points to support this theme: the heaviness of sorrow, the shortness of life, the fragility of youth and innocence, and the extensive depth of the truth.
When the child speaker asks “What are heavy?” the adult speaker responds “sea-sand and sorrow.” The speaker uses alliteration in order to focus the reader’s attention on this particular part of the text. The adult puts what he or she understands as heavy as an adult, sorrow, next to something the child already understands as heavy, sea-sand Children do not recognize sorrow as heavy. Most adolescents have not experienced the emotionally dragging feeling associated with mourning, regret, and despondency. The more experienced adult has experienced this feeling. The adult values truth and wants to share the truthful answer to the question “What are heavy?” with the child while still maintaining the innocence of the youth.
The child follows his or her first question with another complicated inquisition, “What are brief.” The author,

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