Currently, there are many exceptional literature books bearing poems which tell tales of life`s happenings; which are both sad and joyful. It is, nevertheless, apparent that none of the poetic books comes close to narrating well-constructed poems like Life on Mars does. The author, Tracy K. Smith is arguably one of the most talented poets of the modern world. This Pulitzer Prize winner engenders authenticity with fictional constructs to establish remarkable pieces. It appears that her motivation for coming up with poems resulted from her father who worked as an engineer in space (Smith 27). This was her way of expressing grief upon her father`s untimely demise. According to her, poetry lives everywhere ("Poetry Lives Everywhere: NPR kicks off National Poetry Month"). One of the greatest poems she came up with is "The Speed of Belief" where she concentrates more on explicating what the afterlife looks like. "The Speed of Belief" ascertains that the reader is able to withstand the unbearable pain that emerges as a result of losing a loved one and also be in a position to view the beauty that lies in the afterlife; despite this, it could be argued that the poem is uneven to some extent.
It is apparent that poems are capable of closing distances that death establishes between the living and the dead. This is proven by Smith in The Speed of Belief where she appears to envision the kind of life that her father was experiencing after he died. Despite having lost loved ones, it is possible to feel that close to them despite the fact that they are not physically present. Based on this argument, there have been instances whereby people report having received messages from members of their families who departed from this world many years ago. Besides, poems make individuals feel like they have come into contact with something valuable. There is hope that someday people can be reunited with those they have lost to death. Smith also has a tendency of using personification in her poetry to show the newly acquired power wielded by the departed. She also appeals to the reader to remain hopeful since in the past there were popular beliefs of life after death to an extent that many of the individuals were buried with their possessions (Smith 27, 9-11).
There are a number of things that The Speed of Belief leaves unanswered thus contributing to its unevenness. This elegiac poem appears to offer hope to readers as Smith showcases her courage and endurance on losing her father. It is, however, evident towards the end of the poem that she is devastated and she wishes that her own father would come back (Smith 27, 17-19). She is consumed by thought as she muses what would become of all the knowledge that he held, now that he was gone. This poem is also dream-like and leads the audience to a state of euphoria as they try to gather substantial information regarding the deeper meaning of what has been stated. Besides, rather than focusing on one main issue which in this case could be the death of individuals, she chooses to incorporate even the death of her father (Smith 27, 17-19). It, therefore, appears that the author engenders more of a personal perspective when expressing herself through her poetry. She loses herself and in the same way, this could have led her to provoke other innate thoughts about her personal nature; or rather, what she is going through.
A great poem leads the reader to look at the current world and visualize something different about it. This is exactly what The Speed of Belief does. People are always afraid to come to the terms with the reality that they have lost someone dear to them. Smith teaches readers to look on the brighter side of every situation; including death. When her father passes away she chooses to indulge herself in poetry to pour out her grief. It is, however, likely that same motivation may interfere with her construction causing her to be biased since she only focuses on what she feels. Further, still, her constructs depict the fact that she still felt close to her father though he was no longer present. Likewise, individuals need to relate difficult situations with positive outcomes. When people die, they tend to go to a better place where even move around in gold woven robes (Smith 27, 10-11). It is possible that they lead a happier life compared to the one they experienced on earth. This is, however, not essentially the case since people have differing beliefs regarding the afterlife. Smith fails to accommodate such theories but instead focuses on what she herself believes in. Smith`s depiction of life on Mars is a resemblance of the afterlife. She tries to relate to how life is likely to be like when one dies, and she does so exceedingly well since her poetry manages to attract the attention of numerous readers.
Empathy and self-awareness through language are the means through which poetry is used to relate to the contemporary life of individuals. At first, losing someone close is supposed to attract empathy from concerned parties. Regardless of this, The Speed of Belief shows that there should be no need for such compassion since the dead get to live an even better life than they did prior to their death (Smith 27, 10). According to other popular beliefs, empathy assists individuals to move on with their lives despite having lost people close them and is, therefore, an essential component of the grieving process contrary to what Smith indicates. In addition to this, Smith pauses deliberately at the beginning of the poem with an aim of insisting on the fact that individuals should not run but instead they should walk (Smith 27, 5). This is due to the fact that some situations are inevitable and, therefore, individuals have to be ready to face them. Poetry is based upon the idea of celebrating literary heroes (Lee 14). This is developed along with fictional ideas such as those revealed by Smith in her poetry, which involve death and life after an individual`s demise ("The Library of Congress Selects Tracy K. Smith as Poet Laureate"). In addition to this, individuals have to appreciate the life they have since there are many people who did not have the privilege to live life as they pleased. The reader can visualize the narrator walking past the street lights with thoughts lingering on their minds depicting how there are no other people privileged to walk above the ground. This does not demonstrate popular belief by the people in society since not everyone feels underprivileged to be alive. Even those who exist beneath the ground cannot enjoy such luxury. It is evident from the poem that currently people are unappreciative of death, but there may come a time when it may just be viewed as an ordinary occurrence. This is evident from Smith`s indication that during that time, individuals may live for just a few seasons before conceding to death willing-fully.
In her poem, Smith repeats the word walk severally at the end of the first stanza in a manner that depicts a prison march being fronted by individuals. This is a mandatory walk that each and every individual is expected to follow in the course of their lives, finally leading to their death. The voyage existent between the life on earth and the afterlife is what Smith appears to be alluding to by using the term walk (Smith 27, 13). It is like a journey which an individual has to be a part of regardless of their position in society. In addition to this, terms such as low country are used by the poet to depict the kind of life that people are expected to lead upon their demise. It could be argued that the poet has does not know how the afterlife is supposed to look like and is, therefore, not justified to come to such conclusions based on their own intrusion. Some people portray life after death quite differently, and so the utilization of phrases such as low country does not manage to meet all the readers` expectations.
It is apparent that The Speed of Belief ensures that the reader is in a position to withstand all instances of grief upon the loss of a loved one. According to Smith people ought to view the beauty that exists as a result of a negative situation such as death. There are high chances that the dead are living a wonderful life than people imagine as can be depicted from her poem. Besides, this poem appears to illustrate most of her distresses, which she experiences due to the father`s death. This is, nevertheless, focused on majorly towards the end of the poem. This renders the poem uneven since she should have stuck to elaborating the eventualities of death by referring to all individuals in general. The entire poem is, however, brilliant, and well-constructed to meet the satisfaction of its readers.
"Poetry Lives Everywhere: NPR kicks off National Poetry Month." Weekend All Things Considered, 31 Mar. 2018. Literature Resource Center, http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.selu.edu/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T002&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm¤tPosition=1&docId=GALE%7CA533064634&docType=Audio+file%2C+Broadcast+transcript%2C+Interview&sort=RELEVANCE&contentSegment=&prodId=LitRC&contentSet=GALE%7CA533064634&searchId=R2&userGroupName=lln_aslu&inPS=true. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.
Alter, Alexandra. "The Library of Congress Selects Tracy K. Smith as Poet Laureate." The New York Times Book Review, 14 June 2017, p. NA (L). Literature Resource Center, http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.selu.edu/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T004&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm¤tPosition=1&docId=GALE%7CA495524785&docType=Article&sort=RELEVANCE&contentSegment=&prodId=LitRC&contentSet=GALE%7CA495524785&searchId=R3&userGroupName=lln_aslu&inPS=true. Accessed 17 Apr.2018.
Lee, Esther. "Interview with Tracy K. Smith." Atlanta Review, no. 1, 2015, p. 11. https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.selu.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=7&sid=f7106f5e-2d85-4453-921b-a99d52609978%40sessionmgr101
Smith Tracy K. "The Speed of Belief. "Life on Mars, Jan. 2011, p.27.https://slu.louislibraries.org/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/57/5/3?searchdata1=1025583%7BCKEY%7D&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVER
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