Death is an inevitable phenomenon that is interpreted differently by different individuals. The significance of death is sometimes used to allude to one’s psychological behavior. Psychological behaviors such as depression was often seen throughout the poems of various poets. Death will often symbolize a situation or an occurrence, and the use of literary elements inferences can be made about the meaning and purpose of the poem. By using an extended use of literary language, speakers imply how death and depression can coincide in understanding people’s mental state.
The use of dark images and death imagery can influence a person’s behavior by implicating sadness as a result of a certain event. In the poem “ Because I could not stop for Death”, Emily Dickinson reveals the inevitability of death. The surface meaning was that death was full of uncertainties and that after death is a curiosity to many. A woman, most likely Dickinson, is riding in a carriage headed to life after death. It is unclear where she goes as the afterlife is unknown. The pragmatic tone of the poem as a whole describes how the journey is out of Dickinson’s control. The uncertainty of knowing if the speaker is dead or is headed towards death connects to the uncertainty of the afterlife and time of death. The poem is first introduced with the lines of “Because I could not stop for Death- / He kindly stopped for me-“ (lines1-2). Death is perceived to be of a gentleman figure and more accepting. Death as the gentleman “kindly” stopping his carriage so that she can get in. This can mean that there is reassurance of death being inevitable and comfortable. The process remains mysterious because there is uncertainty of their designated destination. In addition, the following lines of “ The Carriage held but just Ourselves-/ And Immortality” (lines 3-4). The mentioning of immorality is important, in that, she can be alluding to afterlife being something for eternity. But the unclearness also designates the idea that there is uncertainties of this whole process, again proving death and life after death is a mystery. There is consonance of “l” sounds in the words “held” and “Ourselves”. Consonance can be used here for reiterating the importance of journey. The sounds make it known that the carriage was personal because of the use of “ourselves” alluding that everyone’s death sentence is personal and dissimilar to another person.
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The use of character comparison can impact the meaning by designating anger and misfortune. The poem “ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas was a message to Thomas’ father. The main objective was to prove to his father that despite the life one lives, that everyone faces the same ending. He also hoped that his father would fight for life, and not give up before dying. Thomas acknowledges that death is inevitable but one should give up and die peacefully. He also indicates that life is valuable and worth fighting for until the end of time. The speakers introduces 4 different type of men. The wise, good, wild and grave men. All has lived different type of lives, but he expects them to do one thing in common, which is fight for life in the end. In line 4 it is said, “ wise men at their end know dark is right.” This basically means that the wise know death is inescapable, but they do not just accept the fact. They try to buy more time by resisting death at all cost, as the value of life is cost less. It is known that despite everything one has done, they constantly wished to do more on their death bed. Thomas makes it known that they should fight against death so that they can have a greater impact and do the things the wanted. The poem is seemed to be universal referring to all men, but it switches to be more intimate for the father. The poem is unclear initially in who it is addressed to. The unclearness alludes to the fact that there has to be a choice made of how the ending of ones life is depicted. It’s whether one fights or “goes gentle” into death. Thomas stating, “ and you, my father, there on sad height” (line 16). Here he addresses his father and shifts the meaning of the poem. The poem changes to a son wanting longer time with their father and grief he would feel after the father’ s death. The mentioning of “father” has a religious aspect as well. He can be addressing God. The height can represent heaven, and it’s sad due to all the people that died. He can also hope that his father goes to God when passes. But he also hopes that God can grant him the wish of longer life for his father.
The overtone of depressed authors is critiqued to figure out and undermine their work. The State You are entering: Depression and Contemporary Poetry by David Wojahn criticizes the definition of depression. He begins by stating the various definitions of depression, but adds his own input of disagreeing with our current definitions. He claims, “Depression is now seen as an organic state rather than as ‘character flaw’”, and that definitions of this day and age are plain. But depression affects everything from ones physical, emotional and mental state. Writers outright address their depression by the use of their dark imagery. Richard Hugo writing “Degrees Of Gray at Philipsburg”, shows his personal failure and the dying town. Hugo says, “you might come here Sunday on a whim/ say life broke down. /The last good kiss you had was years ago.” The broken down town alludes to a destroyed and destruct life. You feel down and unhappy with life indicating the feelings of the author. The poem has a long conceit, “ Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss/ still burning out your eyes. Isn’t this defeat so accurate the church bell simply seems a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?” The indirect question in the beginning represents the unimportance one can feel about life. Feeling unimportant is connected to depressed mental state. Even the word ancient, means one had a decent life prior and is now unhappy. The negative connotation of defeat means they don’t see the importance of life and is in a negative state. Wohajn evaluates that Hugo obsessively parallels the town to his personal break down. Hugo has low self-esteem and this was seen here through his work.
Poetry is often used to exemplify a greater meaning of an overall subject. Depressed individuals often made ordinary poems but had a greater backstory. Using poems from famous authors and analysts, the main meanings were found.