Donald Hall describes the use of imagery in poetry as a device that “makes us more sensitive to [literature], as if we acquired eyes that could see through things”(p 530). Imagery creates vivid details that deal with one’s sense of sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste. These details can be seen in Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” because the senses of touch, sight, sound, and smell appeal to the reader in order to better explain the feelings of each character in the poem. Roethke’s use of imagery creates a negative picture that is painted by the son of an abusive father.
The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” uses imagery by especially appealing to the sense of touch. The sense of touch also helps the reader to better understand the abusive father theme. The third stanza concentrates on the actual act of abuse. The author, Roethke, describes the battle wounds on the father and son that are inflicted by the father. The father’s hand “was battered on one knuckle” from hitting his son with a belt (10). This is apparent because the son’s “right ear scraped…
The Possessive – Empty Nest
The Possessive – Empty Nest
A nest lies empty on top a forked branch of an old oak tree. Last spring children play, young lovers whisper into each others ear, and the elderly relax under that tree. When they do, they can hear the quiet chirps of little hungry baby blue-jays. The little blue-jays chirp until the mother blue-jay returns with food . Afterwards, one attempts to fly and fall out of the nest. The mother blue-jay then quickly swoops down and catches the little one before he hits the ground. The baby jay can always depend on his mother when he needs her, but she knows that one day he will no longer rely on her. On that day, instead of plummeting to his death, the young blue-jay will spread his wings and fly away. He will fly straight into the setting sun never looking back. Slowly all of the young will fly away and leave the mother alone in the nest. However, mothers do not always handle this situation calmly. In “The Possessive,” Sharon Olds conjures intense images of betrayal and utilizes war as a metaphor to express a mother’s emotion as her daughter leaves the nest. The poem reflects the separation anxiety the mother undergoes as she witnesses her daughter mature and distance herself.
To set the mood of the poem, Olds relies heavily on imagery to create the effect. The mother feels betrayed as she watches her daughter slip away from her. Small trivial acts like a simple haircut evoke strong images of discomfort. The barber is described as a “knife grinder” (4) sharpening the edges of her daughter’s hair as if they are weapons. Olds slips words such as “slice” and “blade”, which thrust images of separation into the mind of the reader. She follows these images with sharp edges and cold steel, and then she tops it off with a blazing, red fire The strong intense color red spills over the lines of the poem as blood of soldiers in a heated battle. The vibrant nature of the color red attracts the human eye creating intense emotions. The intense images express the intensity of the mother’s emotions. The imagery in this poem aches the pain and discomfort the mother experiences as mother and daughter prepare for a battle.
The images create the war metaphor presence in the poem.