An admiration of ‘Children’ by Vicki Feaver

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(555 words)

In this essay, I will show how effectively Vicki Feaver, a female poet, conveys the influence of not only a mother but also possibly all mothers. This poem is about a loving parent who wishes her child to have an upbringing of love, care, and ambition.

The first two tercets (three lines of verse) convey an image of a woman through careless accident or careful plan believes the child is brought into this life to be loved. Feaver uses the pronoun ‘we’ to encompass all mothers but it is also personal. The mother is there ‘where they (the child) began’. The description of the children being, ‘red mewling strangers’ conveys the recognition of the reality of what has happened at the birth and the querulous crying of the child. Feaver furthers this point with, ‘they tear our threshold’ to show how life for the mother will change now they have to care for their child. It almost feels like Feaver is expressing the magnitude and intensity of a newborn. However, Feaver’s fondness for this joy of new birth shows compassion with the line ‘immediately we love them’.

The next three tercets speak of a love for the growing child. Feaver comments on others making reference to the newborn which enthuses the genuine pride a mother must feel as in, ‘we smile and blush’. However, the mother has to deal with the baby’s ‘cries’. Despite this, what is the baby’s pain is sympathetic, compassionate parental pain. This shows the child’s feelings are the mother’s instant feelings; the mother is almost subservient to the needs of the child. This is also shown in the line ‘and hold them tightly’. The feeling the mother develops from this indicates ‘a lost part of ourselves’. Had the mother lost the feeling of true unadulterated love? This sensation, of the strongest forces in nature, harmonises with the mother’s wish for the child to have all the things that she did not. It is as if the mother’s life needed a child to foster these feelings.

In the last five tercets, Feaver reflects on the influence of the mother looking at herself. Any new life brings the prospect of that child being able to accomplish and have more than her mother. The mother wants to give the child, ‘all the things we never had’. The mistakes that have happened in the mother’s own life, she wishes to avoid them for her child. She is aware of the pitfalls. This is shown in the wish to walk, ‘in front of them with warning flags’. The internal or external forces over which the mother seems to have no control is expressed in, ‘we who have failed to be authors of our lives right theirs’. ‘To make heroes of them’, mothers are not content simply to protect, they also wish to make the child’s life better by feeding their babies with their dreams, to ‘wait and watch like gardeners for flowers’. The flowers will bloom into colour and admiration.

Feaver’s poem portrays a lot of true beliefs about a mother’s influence. A doting parent from the birth of their child is about influencing their children in many subtle, meaningful, and prospective ways. The mother wishes the utmost best for the child’s upbringing and life. There is an undying love and fondness mothers have for their children.

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Calm Panic Campaign Promise By Alan Ginsberg

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(596 words)

2022 is only days away, a time for celebration and cheer, though are we avoiding looking at the environmental damage caused by the progress we have made in such time? The need for more, the taking without giving back. Alan Ginsberg’s poem “Calm Panic Campaign Promise” is a few thoughts on the, sometimes, careless way problems are ignored.

Many of Ginsberg’s poems show his honest opinion on world issues and “Calm Panic Campaign Promise” is no exception. It is a poem designed to make everybody sit up and notice. The opening lines using, “end of millennium” and “earth decay” are major themes. It makes the reader realise that the millennium was a big turning point, a time to look back at what has been done. This leads directly onto earth’s ongoing decay emphasising that through all achievements the earth has been abused for it. I think these contrasting ideas can make the reader think of how people overspend and overuse during Christmas still ignoring their carbon footprint and another year to reach their own sustainability ambitions. With all the happiness of these festive celebrations, there is the global dilemma of earth’s decay. Could some of their actions be put to different causes?

Alan Ginsberg uses the line, “we’re the great beast” to reinforce the point that man’s behaviour has caused the earth’s decay. This is shown further in, “fire water air tainted” to which thoughts can be turned to such problems as car fumes and plastic use. These truths are of a list that could go on and on. The poem is only on the fourth line but is already very thought-provoking using this to show that everyone can be guilty of ignorance.

Instead of using facts to get his point across, Ginsberg uses the simile of the diseased body to put his points in a way to which every person can relate.  This is shown in the line, “like watching gum disease and not brushing your teeth”. This is further shown in, “getting heart failure, no rest much stress”. This makes the reader think in general terms and the use of the words, “disease” and “stress” make them realise that to overcome those problems they have to put some effort in to stop it. If they do not, it could get worse.  This is what it meant in, “poor circulation, smoke more”, emphasising the denial of many people.

Denial is used twice in the poem with the lines, “denial in Government” and “need President who’ll reverse the denial”. This brings to mind how even hierarchy is guilty of the decay if not more than the citizens of each country. The thought that their knowledge will help us, as Ginsberg puts it, to “restore nature’s balance”.

However, we need more to restore this balance. We need to “calm panic”. Ginsberg sees the panic at the conditions of the earth filling the “dark bed of thoughts of the people who feel unable to do anything to stop it”. While we panic, we are unable to consider how we might take action so we deny that there is a problem. Ginsberg seems to believe that a president could see the situation and lead action to remove this.

Like many of the people Ginsberg writes of, I might have dark night thoughts on rare occasions and recognise that progress has had huge environmental costs. However, while I would join into schemes designed to avoid environmental damage, I might sometimes forget or want to enjoy driving my car and spending money. Most of the time everyday living fills the thoughts.

“Calm Panic Campaign Promise”  (from 1992, from Cosmopolitan Greetings)

End of Millennium

Earth’s decay –

Fire Air Water tainted

We’re the Great Beast –

Dark bed thoughts

Can’t do anything to stop it

Denial in Government, in Newspapers of Record –

Like watching gum disease and not brushing teeth

Getting heart failure, no rest much stress

Putting salt on your greasy pork

Putting sugar in coffee you’ve diabetic

Dysesthesia on foot soles

Poor circulation smoke more cigarettes

Kick your son under the table have another beer

Need President who’ll reverse the denial –

The Calm Panic Party

to restore nature’s balance

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Shakespeare  – Sonnet 29

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(440 words)

In this piece, I will give a brief appreciation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, number 29. Here the sonnet encapsulates the mood of a depressive man trying to deal with his thoughts though it also indicates a mood change to love as a consolation. 

The poem begins with a speaker who is lost in himself. He looks out to the world as if he is falling behind with his ambitions as a man. He has become very introverted while thinking that everyone has left him alone. The first line shows this with the “disgrace” he feels while using “men’s eyes” to show he thinks people are questioning him. As an ‘outcast’, the poem implies he is hopeless. The strength of the sonnet is shown by the first eight lines where the reader is drawn into this man’s despair. The use of the phrase “curse my fate” gives the reader a feeling of sorrow for this man who has lost faith in himself. There is a suggestion he has suffered from despair and anxiety.

Lines 9 to 12 lead the reader to the speaker’s mentality. Though the speaker almost considers himself to be despicable for being cast down as in “despising” of himself, he is looking at his point of view as if he is telling himself subconsciously to look at these negative words with a different perspective to open his considerations. This takes the reader away from the low feelings the speaker had. The speaker now thinks of the love of his life where he uses the word “haply”. This change of thought can be used as his way of bringing himself away from the despair he had for himself. The reader can feel the speaker’s mind start to turn. There is some comfort when he “think of thee”, the absent lover.

Moreover, the metaphor “(Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth)” rebounds against what the speaker has said. This is where Shakespeare’s sonnet shows great deliverance. From a desperate moment to the desire of his “sweet love” shows his mood swing. The final two lines which use the words “sweet love” and “such wealth” show the speaker’s change in feeling and his brighter outlook. There is a definite transformation in the speaker’s frame of mind.

This sonnet could appeal to most people as a universal declaration with this contrast of dark thoughts through to where Shakespeare calls attention to noble emotion encapsulated with his last words “change my state with kings” to drive the despondency away. The anonymous Renaissance London lover has addressed the person he loves. There is a power of true love.

Shakespeare’s sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

       For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Comments on Little Black Boy by William Blake

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One of the first writers of the Romantic period William Blake’s writings are a curious mixture, his voice in the early 1790’s was the conscience of the Romantic Age. He was an artist with words and believed himself to be guided by visions from the spiritual world, which lie heavy in this poem I have chosen. I would like to focus on the poem ‘Little Black Boy’ to which Blake centres on the spiritual awaking to a divine love that transcends race. It tells of how the ‘Little Black Boy’ came to know his identity and to know God.

Blake’s poem is dramatic, that is, in the voice of a speaker other than the poet himself. This poem of Blake’s uses the Little Black Boy to narrate the poem in first person. This projects the reader clearly inside the consciousness of the boy in the poem giving us the images from the defined observer. As a result, Blake stands outside innocence and experience in a distance position. The innocence is from ‘Songs of Innocence’, Blake’s first collection of poems, to which Blake’s subject matter shows the innocent, pastoral world of childhood. This was juxtaposed with experience, which was taken from ‘Songs of Experience’, his other collection, which shows the adult world of corruption and repression, therefore, showing the two contrary states of the human soul. The ‘songs of innocence’ dramatise the naive hopes and fears that inform the lives of children, namely the ‘Little Black Boy’ who tells this didactic story about himself in this poem.

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