The Mood and Image in Poetry
This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight; the trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves; The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves; And the houses ran along them laughing out of square; Open windows (Lowell 185). This quote, taken out of Amy Lowells poem September 1918, illustrates the ability of the author to be very descriptive in order to give the reader an image of where she is and what is surrounding her. Through this poem she also give’s the reader a sense of being there as well. Another author that resembles Lowell is Emily Dickinson. In Dickinsons poem “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died” she says, I heard a Fly buzz-when I died- The Stillness in the Room Was like the stillness in the Air- Between the Heaves of Storm (Dickinson 1202). Like Lowell, Dickinson describes what she sees surrounding her, and by saying that she was dead in her poem she provides the reader the ability to create a mental image of a person actually dead in a coffin. Also in her poem called Because I could not Stop for Death Dickinson says, Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held just but Ourselves and Immortality (Dickinson 1206). In Dickinsons second poem, she describes how death is taking her in its carriage to immortality. Making the reader create a picture of death actually taking her to infinity.
In her first poem the mood that Dickinson sets up is one of quietness and stillness because she says that the room was so quiet and serene that she actually heard a fly buzz by. And in her second poem the mood that Dickinson sets up is one of sadness. Both Lowell and Dickinson, provide their readers with poems, which are both descriptive, making the reader’s feel involved in what they are reading. Also through their poems they set up a mood to make the reader’s understand what it would be like to be in that specific place and time.
In September 1918 Lowell writes about how she felt during World War I. As she is walking through the park she describes collecting leaves as a keepsake for old memories which she wishes reminded her of good times, instead of the bad times that the war had brought. She says, Someday there will be no war. Then I shall Take this afternoon and turn it in my fingers, and remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate, and note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves (Lowell 1856). By reading this quote it is very easy to infer the mood that the author has set up.She implies how sad she is that she can only get these wonderful memories by collecting leaves that she finds along the way. In the end of her poem she says, To-day I can only gather it and put it in to my lunch box, for I have time for nothing but the endeavour to balance myself upon a broken world (Lowell 1856). Showing that Lowell is nostalgic about the good old times which, she can only collect through simple leaves. She also realizes that these times will never come back, so she understands that she has to keep on living life in a world were things are not always what people wish them to be. Through this poem any reader can presume the mood of sadness and nostalgia that the author writes about making the reader understand what the writer is experiencing. Also Lowell describes her environment and everything that surrounded her at that time in order to make the reader have a clear picture of where she was, and make them feel as if they were there as well.
In the poem “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died,” Dickinson talks about what she sees from inside her coffin at her funeral. In this poem the mood Dickinson implies is one of stillness, solemn and sadness. She says, The Eyes around- had wrung them dry- And Breaths were gathering firm for that last Onset (Dickinson 1202).This quote implies how the mourners were getting ready to close the coffin, so everyone was looking at her for the last time, while crying and sobbing. Then she says, With Blue-uncertain stumbling Buzz- Between the light- and me- And then the Windows failed- and then I could not see to see- (Dickinson 1202). When they closed the coffin, she describes the light that once made it possible for her to see is not there anymore; hence, all she saw was darkness and nothingness. In this poem Dickinson sends a grim and very clear image to the reader of what she sees while in her coffin. She is very descriptive about her surroundings, like hearing a fly buzz by. In her poem she makes the readers aware of how still the air was in the room and compares it to the heaves of storm, making the reader visualize just how quiet and still the room must of been. In this poem Dickinson manages to give her readers a very grim image of being able to see her own funeral. At the same time she sets up a mood that makes it possible for the reader to have a clear image of everything she saw, and heard.
Dickinson’s second poem “Because I could not stop for Death,” is a poem that is very ironic. In her poem she depicts how since death was so kind to stop for her, she stopped everything even her own life just to go with death because death had done her the favor of stopping for her. She says, “He knew no haste and I had to put away my labor and leisure too, For his Civility” (Dickinson 1206). In this poem Dickinson describes the things she saw when she was taken away by death in the carriage, she says, “We passed the School, where children strove At Recess- in the ring- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- We passed the Setting Sun” (Dickinson 1206). Like her previous poem, in this poem it is very clear to create an image of someone in a carriage looking down at things like fields of gazing grain or a school with children playing at recess. Through this quote she also sets up a mood of sadness because she sees that life is passing right before her eyes. Finally she provides the reader with the image that she is dead when she says, “Or rather- He The Sun passed Us – The Dews drew quivering and chill- For only Gossamer, my Gown- My Tippet- only Tulle” (Dickinson 1206). In this quote she implies how she is not getting cold as the sun passes by because she is already dead and in the ground. Through this poem Dickinson manages to imply to her readers a clear image of life passing her by, and also of death taking her away towards eternity.
In conclusion, both Lowell and Dickinson, two descriptive authors manage to offer many aspects of writing through their poetry. The first aspect they offer is description, by being descriptive they provide their readers a clear image of what they are describing or talking about in their poetry. Also by being descriptive the reader obtains a sense of being there at a precise place and time. And finally both of these authors convey a mood through their poetry, which makes their poetry very vivid. In Lowell’s poetry she sets the mood by describing the beauties that Mother Nature had surrounded her with like the trees, the water falling through the sunlight, and the tumbling of leaves. This is an example of Lowell giving a very clear image of that time and place, and at the same time setting a peaceful and calm mood. Although Dickinson is similar in her poem I heard a Fly buzz-when I died she gives a very grim image of someone looking at his or her own funeral. Also in her second poem she gives a very clear image of life passing her by, and at the same time incorporating in her poem a sense of irony. In her first poem she was very descriptive about what she was seeing from her coffin at her funeral. She described people sobbing and crying for her, also how she failed to see anymore when they closed her coffin, these are some of the details that made the reader imagine what was going on in her funeral. By describing what she saw she also sets the mood which in this poem is one of sadness, and solemn. Furthermore, by describing the fly buzz by she sets up a mood of tranquility and stillness because of how quiet it has to be to actually hear a fly buzz by. And in her second poem she was very descriptive about what she saw from the carriage to the ground below, making the reader infer as well a sense of sadness since she saw life passing her by before her eyes.
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