Divergent Reflections: Exploring Faith, Boundaries, and War through the Verses of Crashaw, Frost, and Hardy

Published: 2024-01-27
Divergent Reflections: Exploring Faith, Boundaries, and War through the Verses of Crashaw, Frost, and Hardy
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Poem Literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1420 words
12 min read

Poems by Richard Crashaw

Author's Purpose and Rhetorical Stance

Richard Crashaw is an odd man in the world of metaphysical poetry. He faces accusations of being baroque or too European. His works in religious poetry are widely accepted. However, his particular obsession with the Virgin Mary and bodily fluids raises questions most times. The view of Crawshaw's poetry is that it is too fixated on a limited variety of images and experiences. It includes liquids such as blood, milk, and water.

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In the poem "Upon the Infant Martyrs," the grotesque nature of Crashaw's techniques is displayed. In verse, he states that he doubts whether there will be heaven yet blood and mother's milk mix (Hope). He questions whether things will be better. He ends the poem noting that the holy innocent is an infant murdered by King Herod. The babies killed by Herod join the love of the mother shown through her milk with their innocent demises. The blood and milk mixed get glorified in heaven as lilies and roses.

The poem "To the Infant Martyrs" seems to refer to those newborns. The narrator tells them that they are now free and in heaven (Hope). In heaven, they will learn to speak and sing. Here he is probably referring to their short lives on earth. He tells them that they should not worry about the milk they have left behind. Instead, they should focus on heaven which has endless milk sources.

Personal Response

In the New Testament, Matthew's gospel narrates the incident of how King Herod murdered young males in Bethlehem. He wanted to get to the Messiah, fearing that he would oust him. The Catholic Church sees the murdered infants as the first Christian martyrs.

It has an allocated event for them named Holy Innocents Day. It follows with an excerpt from Jeremiah stating that there was great weeping in Ramah. Rachel was weeping for her children and refused to be comforted. The poems by Crashaw focus on the newborns and what they face afterward upon their deaths.

Poems by Robert Frost

Author's Purpose and Rhetorical Stance

The poem Mending Wall centers around the effort it takes to maintain borders and shape human interactions(Altman). The narrator and his neighbor place most of their time rebuilding a wall dividing their properties. In doing so, they mule over the role of the wall and its impact on their relationship. The narrator believes that the fence is unnecessary, both politically and practically. The walls isolate people, thus affecting harmonious relationships. However, the narrator's neighbor believes that the walls improve relationships. It is because they prevent conflicts and allow people to live peacefully.

The narrator believes the wall is not favorable due to the crops both of them grow. Cattle can wander off to another's pasture. However, the narrator's apples are not going to feed on the neighbor's pine trees. Above all, the narrator opines that the walls actively destroy relationships. It is because the walls offend with their insinuation of exclusion and mistrust(Altman). The neighbor repeatedly states that good fences make good neighbors in convincing the narrator to repair the wall. He believes that walls create distinct boundaries.

The neighbor seems disturbed by the possibility of future conflicts, which he sees as a part of life. The narrator insists they are not in a competition for resources(Altman). The poem remains ambiguous because, with all the speaker's complaining, he is still the one who initiates the mending of the fence. The poem gives the neighbor the last word at the same time. It is not completely clear which side the reader has to take. Hence there is space for the reader to decide who is wrong and who is right.

Personal Response

In the narrator and neighbor's argument about the fence, there arises the possibility of change. The narrator points out that the neighbor's beliefs on barriers are backward. The neighbor still maintains his stand that fences keep people in order by restraining them. The poem requires the reader to deduce whether the argument gets solved. Additionally, they are to think if society is flexible enough for changes.

The speaker seems more modern compared to his neighbor. He considers himself liberated from the darkness that the neighbor is. Ironically, the speaker alerts the neighbor of repairing the wall while insisting that it is not necessary. Hence, the poem advises that individuals should embrace ideas like the neighbors, and the public will be captivated by them. They are unable to decline the projects they enthuse. It's tough to get rid of the past beliefs and to apply amendments for the future.

The narrator believes that exercise is useless because it is fruitless and repetitive. However, the neighbor insists that it is not all about the fence. Instead, it is about people engaging in everyday activity that builds better relationships. According to the narrator, work gets justified as an end in itself and maintains a fair society. The poem implicates the value of imaginative work. It means work that is not only for changing culture but also working for the beauty in it.

Poems by Thomas Hardy

Author's Purpose and Rhetorical Stance

Thomas Hardy wrote Channel Firing a short period after World War 1 began. The poem creates a graveyard disturbed because of noise from firing guns at sea. The firing is not a real battle, preferably from practicing. However, the noise is loud enough to awaken the dead. The dead think judgment day has arrived. That is the apocalypse. However, the Creator reassures them that it is just regular business on earth. The poem is based on a back-and-forth satirical conversation between the dead and God.

The poem's view on modern war and human history is pessimistic. It focuses on the rush of countries to develop weaponry with devastating effects. According to the poem, the development of warfare has only caused more blood spillage(Griffin). The narrator does not have pride in these advancements or the armies that should make the world a better place. Instead, he sees the nations producing the same mistakes made throughout history. The poem opines that war is entirely misguided craziness. The most it does is place more people in coffins.

The beginning of the line concludes everything that is war. It says, "great guns," referring to the might of army weapons(Griffin). They are so powerful that they rattle the dead. God's dismissal of the firing guns infers that the dead have nothing to do with what is right matter the noise and the commotion due to warfare. Additionally, God says it should not be judgment day because most of those firing would go to hell.

Additionally, the poem personifies guns, making them seem as not conscious of their effect. The guns are just another item for a meaningless war. There is no guarantee that it gets used to make things better. The military is unaware of the consequences their actions have. It means that they have not fully grasped the results as they continue to build weapons of mass destruction.

It seems the world is addicted to the madness. It is not the temporary kind as it manifests throughout history. God refers to the leaders as mad because they do not work towards making their surroundings better.

Personal Response

The poem focuses on the history of war and its consequences. It emphasizes that war is all bad. It is clear because even one of the dead wonders if humanity will ever learn from its past mistakes. The poem insinuates that people have always been self-destructive and irrational. Hence, there is very little hope for the future. The narrator has a complicated relationship with God and religion as a whole.

He tries to make sense of the world by using God in the conversation. The narrator doubts what religion promises. He wonders if a supposed Christian society is okay with making decisions that cause destruction. Christian ethics are useless in the situation at both the personal and national level. The poems end on a rather despairing note. There is no forthcoming assistance even from God. People get left to the unpredictability of modern war.

Works Cited

Altman, Toby. "Mending Wall." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 23 Jan 2019. Web. 9 Dec 2020.

Griffin, Brandan. "Channel Firing." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 6 Mar 2020. Web. 9 Dec 2020

Hope, Steffen. Upon the Infant Martyrs - a Poem for Childermas, 1 Jan. 1970, my-albion.blogspot.com/2013/12/upon-infant-martyrs-poem-for-childermas.html.

Kumar, Dharmender. "Analysis of The Chimney Sweeper: When My Mother Died..." Poem Analysis, 15 Aug. 2020, poemanalysis.com/william-blake/the-chimney-sweeper-when-my-mother-died/.

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