The Imagery In Poetry: I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud And Noiseless Patient Spider

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The poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman is a free verse poem that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. It has two stanzas and each comprises of five lines which makes it a quintet which is a five-lined stanza in poetry. The poem is about a man expressing the condition of his soul after seeming a spider unreeling it web tirelessly. While on the other hand, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, by William Wordsworth has four stanzas with six lines in each stanza. It details the poet’s encounters with the majestic daffodils in the field and the never-ending row of those enchanting flowers impresses him so much that he compares them with the sparkling stars of the galaxy. This everlasting impact, triggered by nature, often serves as a delight for the poet, when he feels low or in loneliness. Similarly, ‘Nothing Gold can stay’ by Robert Frost, is a short poem about nature and its transience. 

The poet concentrates upon the loss of beautiful and good things that eventually disappears. Therefore, one should value the beauty around them before it disappears with time. In both ‘Nothing Gold can Stay’ by Robert Frost, and ‘I wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, by William Wordsworth, the poets use similar figurative language to convey the meaning of their poems. The main theme in these poems is the breakdown that everything, even the most wonderful things will eventually fades and the impact of nature on a human. Similarly, ‘I wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, portrayed figurative devices such as metaphors, personification and simile. In addition to the two stated poems, ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’, by Walt Whitman, the poet used different figurative languages and imagery to convey the battle of his soul with that of a small spider that seemed patience and tirelessly as it unreel its web that connects it to the unfathomable world. The Figurative language in ‘Nothing Gold can stay’ is used for a particular outcome. Frost uses an interesting metaphor to describe the process of nature and one’s life. He says, ‘Nothing Gold can stay’. This could mean that despite the beauty and youthfulness of a person, it is only temporary. A ‘gold’ is also a symbol of purity, prosperity and life, but unusually this is the exact opposite of what it means in the poem. 

The first reference is to the gold found in nature, leaves which are green and gold but eventually after the figurative language they die. The same is true of the Garden of Eden, which is Christianity epitome of perfection. In line 7 “So Eden sank to grief” is an allusion which refers to the perfect place that was created by God, until it was tarnished by sin and eventually death became a reality. Frost execution of the allusion technique shed light to the idea that nothing lasts because EVEN the shining gold standard of perfection which was made to last forever has meant its end. Similarly, Frost conveyed meaning that nothing last forever (nothing gold) is substantiated through the usage of visual and tactile imagery of the poem. In line one, ‘Nature’s first green is gold’, Frost invoked the possible meanings by using ‘green’ that: green could mean new or young. By using the word green, with concrete visual association, readers will be able to see the relationship between youth and life. In the second line, Frost used the Tactile imagery ‘Her hardest hue to hold’ to draw upon a different meaning. The poet is saying that ‘gold’, something that is precious and valuable, as implied in the term ‘golden age’, is difficult to maintain. Consequently, the final image is a gold sunrise sinking into a gold sunset as another day fades away (line 8-9). 

Frost theme is that even the most beautiful things in life will inevitably fade away. By the same token, in ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, Wordsworth uses vivid imagery and figurative devices to express nature, loneliness and the impact of nature on a person. Wordsworth used these devices to make his poem richer and deeper with information and understanding. Wordsworth used two similes in the poem to relate the main idea of loneliness. Stanza 1 line 1, “I wandered lonely as a cloud”, Wordsworth compared his loneliness with a single cloud. The word ‘wandered’ and ‘cloud’ reflects his loneliness in a wide environment; the sky is a huge open space with millions of galaxies and stars; however, Wordsworth describe his mood as a lonely cloud. Similar to ‘Nothing Gold can Stay’ by Robert Frost, Wordsworth used more than one figurative language to convey the meaning of his poem. Wordsworth transitioned from Similes to Personification to express a clear meaning; in Stanza 3 line 17, “In a Jocund Company”; this could be interpreted that the narrator was so lonely, that he considered the daffodils as his companions. The use of the words ‘Jocund Company’ signifies that he considered the daffodils as his cheerful company. Wordsworth even went on to using visual imagery such as ‘lonely as a cloud’, ‘never-ending line, and ‘a crowd’ to help readers to imagine or feel the loneliness of what was felt by the narrator. Equally to Frost usage of imagery, Wordsworth usage of imagery makes the reader visualize the writer’s feelings and emotions. In the same way, ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’ by Walt Whitman, the poet also includes imagery and figurative languages. 

The major themes in the poem are isolation, struggle and patience. The poet contrasts the battle of his soul with a tiny spider. He explicitly unfolds the effort of the spider and explores the idea that only those who work tirelessly and has patience can be as one with the world. Similar to the other analyze poems, Walt Whitman has also used figurative language and imagery in the poem to express the condition of his soul. Both Frost and Wordsworth showed no bound by using imagery to convey the themes of their poem and Whitman show the same effects. Throughout ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’, the poet primarily mentioned visual imagery of his surround and the spider’s by using a wide range of visual imagery such as ‘surrounded, detached, In measureless oceans space and I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated’. This imagery clearly demonstrates the poet comparison to a small spider that seems to be connected with the world to that of his soul. This appeal to the readers visual sense and gave the feeling of isolation. In addition, this imagery also gave way to the idea isolation and struggle because how could it be that a spider which is such a small creation in the world, be cognizant of its purpose while the narrator’s think his soul is detached from the world. Conversely, from the other stated poems, Whitman used hyperbole to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. For example, ‘in measureless oceans of space’ as it exaggerates the amount of space surrounding the narrator’s soul but still he never felt connected to his surroundings. In contrast to Frost and Wordsworth poem, Whitman used an apostrophe which is a device used to call someone/something. 

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The line “And you O my soul where you stand”, is used for expressing the contrast between the narrators soul and the spider. Whitman used this device to convey the meaning that after watching the spider exploring it surrounding and unreeling its web, the narrator was now aware of his isolation from the outer world. The careful glimpse of this analysis shows that the poets have skillfully projected their ideas using these figurative language and Imagery. Their appropriate use has made the poem meditative and thoughtful for the reader. In addition, they aid to convey the main idea of the poem for readers to get a full understanding of what was the poet’s intention of mood to be understood when reading the poem. 1. “Poets have skillfully used their craft to examine particular themes relevant to society.” Using THREE poems from two of the categories provided, discuss this notion making reference to a theme you have studied in this course. (20 marks) ‘If We Must Die’ is a Shakespearean sonnet written by Jamaica poet Claude McKay. It’s a poem that calls for oppressed people to resist their oppressors, violently and bravely, despite the possibility of losing their life in the struggle. McKay’s execution of symbolism, imagery and figurative language were skillfully used to convey the theme of inequality and racism between the black and white races. The first figurative language that was used by Claude McKay in the poem was a simile in Stanza 1, line 1; “If we must die, let it not be like hogs.” By choosing hogs, the writer conveyed the meaning of how worthless and insignificant their lives were to the oppressors. 

They were not considered as equals, hence, they were treated inhumanly and still, the writer wants to bring about the powerlessness of the race that was deeming inferior (black race). Pigs are usually slaughtered and killed in a horrendous manner and this is a depiction of the kind of death awaiting the oppressed in the pursuit of their rights. Though the poem was written in 1919, the theme of inequality between the black and white races still prevails in nations worldwide. To clarify, May 2020, an African American by the name of George Floyd was ‘murdered’ by a ‘white’ police officer who literally had his foot on Mr. Floyds’ neck until he suffocated. McKay’s craft of analyzing topics and examining the theme of inequality was relevant in his era and still is. The poet went on to use the ‘mad and hungry dogs’ as a symbolism of the enemies (white race) in the poem “While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs”. The black race which was being treated inhumanely wanted freedom; wanted to be seen as equals, however, whichever person from the black race that was brave and wanted to rebel for their rights against the oppressors and recruited members to revoke and resist the oppressors; were searched for (hunted) and put in prison (penned in an inglorious spot), while the white race decide their fate. In addition, ‘the mad and hungry dog’ seemed ambiguous in the perspective of the technique that was used by McKay. It was not only a symbolism or visual imagery; but is a kind of extended metaphor which denotes the white race purpose of being killing beasts towards the black. 

There is an irony in the way Mckay portrayed the dogs as mocking the enemies; a hungry dog would not necessarily play with food when compared to the analogy ‘dog eat dog’. McKay went on to using repetition to highlight the theme of inequality. It can be seen in phrases such as ‘If we must die, O let us nobly die,’ in which the word, and imagery around the word, ‘die’ is repeated. And the phrase ‘If we must die’ appeared word for word twice in the poem. The usage of this repetition is to express the oppressed feeling of willing to risk their lives for what they believe in because they will no longer live under the heels of their oppressors. Similarly, another evidence of a poet’s tactical use of writing to convey themes that are relevant to society can be seen in ‘The Ballad of the Landlord” by Langston Hughes. The poem describes the experience of a black tenant trying to get his white landlord to make basic, essential repairs to the property he’s renting. Instead of making the repairs, the landlord-emboldened by the powerful society confers on him as a presumably white, wealthy man opposite a black man-seizes the opportunity to unfairly exploit his tenant, the speaker. Langston Hughes’ poem “The Ballad of the Landlord” contains not only one figure of speech, but rather many. The landlord is an actually character in the poem but he also functions as a symbolic figure. He represents racist society in general, and the way that such a society empowers white people like the landlord while disenfranchising black people like the tenant. 

The landlord is could be classified as corrupt in the poem, as he tried to demand payment from the tenant before performing the repairs that were requested for more than a week. Yet because the tenant is black and the landlord is implied to be white, the landlord faces no repercussions for his actions. This reflects the way that the society more broadly controls and exploits marginalized people, who in turn lack the means and protections to fight back; which again express the theme of inequality and racism. Indeed, when the speaker does try to stand up to the landlord, he just lands himself in jail; the landlord’s word is automatically taken over the speaker’s. Even the poem’s title is telling: it is not the ballad of the tenant but rather the ballad of the landlord, despite the fact that the tenant is the speaker of the poem. This reflects the fact that, in a racist society, white individuals have the power to control the narrative and can use it to keep people of color down. The use of rhetorical question in the poem is one which the speaker and listener already know the answer. But to emphasize the black tenant’s unhappiness with the situation as he repeats the phrase ‘Ten bucks you say I owe you? Ten bucks you say is due?’ This gives the reader an imagery of the tenant’s outrage as he was already cognizant of the price of the rent but these questions were much more forceful than statements. The tenant almost sounded surprise by the sum of money he owes and by the sum of money that is due. 

By the same token, ‘The Ballad of Choco late Mabbie’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is about a dark-skinned African American little girl who is seven-years old. This little girl was in love with a boy in her class but her heart was broken when she saw the boy walking out the schools’ gate with a light-skinned African American. The poet used the literary device metaphor to gives a description of Mabbie’s complexion when he stated ‘Mabbie was cut from a chocolate bar’. The metaphor of chocolate extended throughout the poem along with Gwendolyn Brooks strategy of imagery of the word chocolate. This gave the readers an idea of how beautiful and ‘sweet’ Mabbie’s physical appearance was. The imagery of chocolate appeals to our senses of sight (dark) and taste (sweet). However, despite the poets use of metaphor to highlight how beautiful Mabbie’s appearance was to the eye; with another metaphor, Mabbie’s heart was broken when she saw her beloved “saucily bold Willie Boone” leaving the schools’ campus with a girl of lighter complexion and blonde curly hair. Brooks used the literary device so well to up state the speaker, but still, he flipped his usage of metaphor and gave Mabbie a bitter feeling of rejection because of her skin. 

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