“Futility”- A poem By Wilfrid Owen

 

Move him into the sun–
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,–
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved– still warm,– too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
— O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

I love the crisp last line- “What made fatuous sunbeams toil/To break earth’s sleep at all?” If the sun had taken so much effort to bring to life the seeds in his home and wake the earth and now the young soldier again and again, why does he not wake him now from his sleep? The questions are asked with the full knowledge of their futility. Because the sunbeams are “fatuous”,silly and dense enough to work without purpose. Nature makes its beautiful works and when they are destroyed, hardly cares to restore them to their life.

The futility of human existence is brought home beautifully in the way the sun has dealt with the soldier at different points of time. Its touch awoke him once, at home It always woke him , even in France. Until this morning and this snow. The limbs of the soldier are so dear-achieved. Why has nature now abandoned this exquisite piece of its work?

“This Living Hand” by John Keats

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed–see here it is–
I hold it towards you.

The living hand I am extending towards you, now capable of earnest grasping. When death occurs the same hand drained of its red life will haunt your days and chill your nights. And it will make you wish that the blood coursing in your living veins be drained and instead flow in the dead poet’s veins. That will set at rest your conscience.

Whether or not it was meant for Fanny Brawne , the poem does indeed raise gloomy thoughts . A poem written in the last years of the young poet who knew he was dying would speak of a state of existence in death- a hand ,now living and capable of grasping would lie in the tomb ,cold and drained of blood. The thoughts are of a living man projecting his existence on to an existence devoid of life. The process of the living hand transforming to lifelessness can only be imagined by a living man about to die. The poem makes the reader project his own conscious life on to such an existence as though the poet is holding his hand towards him.

“When I have seen the sun emerge”-Emily Dickinson

When I have seen the Sun emerge
From His amazing House –
And leave a Day at every Door
A Deed, in every place –

Without the incident of Fame
Or accident of Noise –
The Earth has seemed to me a Drum
Pursued of little boys.

The sun emerges from his amazing house and ,like a postman,leaves a day at every house. And a deed in every place (when the day comes,the deed takes place!).The deed takes place without the incident of fame because the deed is the incident,not the fame that may or may not be associated with it. Without the accident of noise because noise is an after-effect ,which is a mere accident .The Deed left by the sun in every place is a mere incident which may or may not be followed by noise.

The sun has such a large role in our lives.The earth is a mere drum rolled by little kids for fun .A beautiful image of a rolling drum pursued by little boys in the street.

“Failure” By Philip Schultz

To pay for my father’s funeral
I borrowed money from people
he already owed money to.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
You can’t remember
a nobody’s name, that’s why
they’re called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable.
The rabbi who read a stock eulogy
about a man who didn’t belong to
or believe in anything
was both a failure and a nobody.
He failed to imagine the son
and wife of the dead man
being shamed by each word.
To understand that not
believing in or belonging to
anything demanded a kind
of faith and buoyancy.
An uncle, counting on his fingers
my father’s business failures—
a parking lot that raised geese,
a motel that raffled honeymoons,
a bowling alley with roving mariachis—
failed to love and honor his brother,
who showed him how to whistle
under covers, steal apples
with his right or left hand. Indeed,
my father was comical.
His watches pinched, he tripped
on his pant cuffs and snored
loudly in movies, where
his weariness overcame him
finally. He didn’t believe in:
savings insurance newspapers
vegetables good or evil human
frailty history or God.
Our family avoided us,
fearing boils. I left town
but failed to get away.

I love the poem not because it is such a great work of art.But because it makes me feel human. The anatomy of failure. Failure is not forgettable whereas the poet’s uncle and the rabbi who read out the stock eulogy are forgettable nobodys. The poet’s father was somebody, a failure not easily forgettable.

Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman


“Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

(Excerpt)

Read more: http://hellopoetry.com/poem/phenomenal-woman/#ixzz1213XbktY

Because I am a woman/Phenomenally. I like the line. She talks not merely about what is special about her as a woman which marks her out from other women but what is quintessence of a woman which makes her a phenomenon , an event extraordinary or uncommon:

“It is in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need of my care”

The first three- “click”, ”bend” ‘palm” are physical attributes of the phenomenal woman but the last- “the need of my care” -is the intangible quality about her which makes her the phenomenal woman. The quiet reassurance that other people feel about her and the natural dependence that flows from her are what makes her the phenomenon she is.