Category Archives: English Literature

Thinking through Act

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

Acting is basically an art of imitation or reflection or representation. It is the quality of utilizing your own spirit body and mind in being someone else. Actors on the stage do not show themselves up there, but they show the character they get into to people.”  Acting is equivalent to forgetting the original self.

Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.

Benefits of acting

There are many benefits of acting :

  1.  It is a self-cleansing art.
  2. It helps us to forget ourselves, our worries, or goals, our life pressure, etc for the same time.
  3. It helps us to “be present”. Through acting, we enjoy “the moment”. We are at “the moment”.
  4. It helps us to understand the small little worlds as well as the big worlds of various people around us.
  5. Every act gives us a different perception that adds to build our character.

Methods of acting

  1. Stanislavski/Strasberg/Method: It uses affective memory considering our past. We need to relate to our past events. It draws situations from real life and there is an “emotional recall” as we get in touch with your emotional self.
  2. Meisner Method: It is the method based on the usage of imagination only. We need to enforce us to ask questions to ourselves. We ask the questions “what if”. We need time to contemplate under what situation will I be like this and considers the hypothetical future.

Voice Acting

Our emotions come out of our voices. Talking to a person over a voice call, we can immediately interpret if he is happy, sad, angry, guilty, lonely, or anything else. The Voice of a person gives a strong sense of the feelings of a person. Therefore, in addition to bringing the character by our body movements, we also need to bring out the character through our voice. Indeed, the voice acting is so powerful that it has opened up a separate domain for artists. Voice acting by podcasts are becoming popular day by day. It is easy to access and very interesting helping listeners to create a world of their own by listening to the voice artists. In addition, in these difficult times of pandemic, where shooting is difficult due to the rules of social distancing, podcasts are the way for artists.

Irrespective of the form of acting, the main trick is to make your character your best friend. We need to study up on character traits; read testimonials, interviews, or watch videos. Then, we need to try to bring the traits through voice. Traits, in general, depending on age, geographical location, any distinct characteristic, or disability. There is a need to develops a culture of responsive acting. It is also important to tackles self-consciousness. It is an effective way of creating the world around us. An actor is an energy bank, always excited about his character and his story.

“Acting is a sport. On stage you must be ready to move like a tennis player on his toes. Your concentration must be keen, your reflexes sharp; your body and mind are in top gear, the chase is on. Acting is energy. In the theatre people pay to see energy.”

Science and God

“Science” and “God”, the two words which are often seen as separate entities. These words seem conflicting to most of us and are often a topic of debate. Science seems to question the existence of God and believers of God often question why we are unable to explain the entire universe completely by science till date, a question on the success of science. We can often come across debates on televisions, radio, magazines, etc where people try to prove one as superior over the other. But, are they really two different things? Are they conflicting terms? Or are they same?

A deeper thought over it can clear our confusion. If we deep dig, we find that indeed both are connected. We really don’t need to choose between them. Science and God, are superior powers. The differences arise when we start associating God with some particular religion and Science with the only education. In reality, science is the process of thinking God’s thought after him. “An equation is really nothing unless it expresses a thought of God”, according to Ramanujan. They both actually merge at the spiritual level.

When we talk of science, it is the theories, the fundamental laws that very well explains the nature around us. It offers an explanation of all the natural phenomena in a very beautiful way and at a very basic level. It helped us understand how to converse in the language of nature, i.e in mathematics. It gives human power. The more we as humans understand science, the more powerful we become. Visit the days when humans started to understand science to get to know about the secrets of nature, the things they imagined then are now a reality. The gadgets they considered as their dreams are now in our hands. The technology we imagine today will also become a reality pretty soon. Science gave a power to humans to achieve the impossible.

God, on the other hand, is another superiority. There has been no proper evidence of someone seeing a God. We have not seen God, but we all believe in a “power” that is superior to all of us and many refer to this superior power as “God”. God gives humans the strength and power by making us understand the language of love and humanity. Spirituality is the heart of a human being and through God, we reach here. God helps us understand our potential and make us believe in our strengths. It changes our perception and makes the world a very beautiful and peaceful place for us. The world is incomplete without God.

We can thus conclude,  that both Science and God are a source of immense power to human beings and both are tied together. Both speak the same language. The more faith we develop in God, the more we get close to science, the more we understand science, our belief in the existence of God becomes stronger. Louis Pasteur rightly said that “a bit of science can distance us from God, but more of it nears one to him”, and that is for sure. Diving deep into them will give us immense power and peace.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Chandalika

Self consciousness, up to a point, is necessary to self development;for without an awareness of the dignity of one’s own role or function, one cannot give one’s best to the world.

The above, are the lines from one of the most underrated dramas of Rabindranath Tagore, in the world of literature – Chandalika. A drama with a lots of love, compassion, over compassion, feeling of inferiority, new birth, and culmination of great teachings of Buddha. This drama has a vast history and has been portrayed over centuries as a musical drama, music to give more life to it, and make the audience understand the intensity of the emotions that the protagonists carry in themselves, during the play.

Themes –

A religion that insults is a false religion. Everyone united to make me conform to a creed that blinds and gags. But since that day something forbids me to conform any longer. I’m afraid of nothing now.

The story that is revealed in the plot is all about discovering new dimensions of life, as well as, discovering one’s inner self. Readers also come across new experiences of life through the characters themselves, in each and every scene that is being played on. Set in an old city of Shravasti, in the then Uttar Pradesh, the story has to offers many aspects of human approaches, such as, over obsession for something can be as disastrous as gulping poison. Another aspect of the play is discovered through the act of quenching thirsty Buddhist monk, that proves to be a kind of “rebirth” for a girl who is meant to be untouchable. The presence of the mother is a cue of saying that, one should not step out of the boundaries that are set by the religion and society for any person living on this earth. Rebellion against the wall of system and society, is another thing that is portrayed by the drama. The presence of a Buddhist monk in the play, rejuvenates it, bringing whole of a new sense to the play, teachings of Buddha, determination towards life and bringing up the best of a person, is that converts it into a multi dimensional and psychological drama of intense spiritual conflict. Finally, turning into a sort of redemption, along with self realisation, the drama yet has a tale to tell, that –

Love does not claim possession, but it gives freedom.

Introducing the characters –

Chandalika, as the name suggests, is about a chandal girl belonging to the lowest untouchable caste, who gives water to a beautiful monk and falls for him. Unable to restrain herself, she made her mother chant the spells and bound him to be presented at their house at night. Filled with lust and sensitivity, the character of Prakriti portrays the nature’s qualities, she is aggressive, ready to make sacrifices, adorably tolerant, love excessively, mostly alike our mother nature. The story is not of a wicked girl roused to lust by the physical beauty of the monk, but of a very sensitive girl, condemned by her birth to a despised caste, suddenly awakened to a consciousness of her full rights as a woman.

Anand, the famous disciple of Buddha, is a monk in a real sense, pure, loved all the creatures of the world, spread the enlightenment, and victim of the lust of a girl, who unknowingly, is put to remorse and shame.

Symbolizing the social evils prevailing in the society, in the contemporary time, Prakriti’s mother, is yet another character of the play, who, unfortunately had to pay heavy price of her daughter’s love, by giving sacrificing every nerve and cell of her body. She is, as protective, as every other mother ever lived on this earth. At the same time, preventing her to not to claim such a pure soul, Anand, as her’s.

The plot –

For wisdom is not happiness, and renunciation is not fulfilment.

Forgotten that I was a human being, these words always pinched Prakriti’s ears for many years, when one day in vaisakh, she, sitting under the blistering sun was introduced to a person in town, whom she could only think to be standing some fifty feets apart from “a girl, as she. ” It is, Anand, the monk, pure as heaven, beautiful,englitened, who has renounced the earthly leisures, approaches her to quench his thirst. But, being a Chandal, Prakriti was bound not to offer him water from a lake as unpure as herself, on which he laments, and speaks to her, if the black clouds of sravana are dubbed chandal, what of it? It doesn’t change their nature, or destroy the virtue of their water. Don’t humiliate yourself;self humiliation is a sin, worse than self murder. It is when comes twist in the tale, she is revealed to a new birth of herself and is determined to bring him back to her, and discover a cherish her new birth with herself.

Hearing this from Prakriti’s own mouth, her mother is shaken up and thinks that somebody has chant some spell over her. She is awestruck by the idea of her talking of the humanism, caste, and want for the monk. Not ready to listen to her mother, Prakriti wants the monk back, by hook or by crook, that could be achieved when the mother chants her spell over him, and call him off straight to her place. The mother rebels and protests against this idea of her, saying, we only churn up the mud, his power is much more greater than hers, and by chanting spell over him, she can commit a great sin.

The utmost desire to have the monk right next to her is unshakable, and being the only loveable daughter of her, the mother is bound to chant the magic spells. She makes her prepare all the stuff that is required to fulfill the strength of the words, and giving her a magic mirror, tells her to be attentive of the paththat Anand will choose to come over here. Magically, her spells worked out, but in a different manner, though Anand came all the way to her house, without any second thought, but his radiance withered, the shining, the purity, the heavenly glow, all gone, faded, destroyed to pieces. Also, her mother was exhausted till now, she was lying on the floor, counting last of her breath,as overpowering such a majestic personality was a difficult task to do.

It was the time when Prakriti again realised, was awakened to life, that she has committed a sin, redeemed for the second time, purged of the pride and egoism that had made her forget that love does not claim possession, but gives freedom. Also, the holy monk is taken back into his earlier state by the powers of The Buddha.

The drama is a delight to the readers, a tragedy with a lot of teachings and morals to tell. Self redemption, obsession, realization, rebirth, it is a bunch of great dialogues, that takes the reader into in itself.

PHOTOGRAPHING MOTHER

ABOUT THE POET

Tribhuvandas Purushottamdas Luhar, better known by his pen name Sundaram, (22 March 1908 – 13 January 1991), was a Gujarati poet and author from India. He was born on 22 March 1908 at Miyan Matar, BharuchBombay PresidencyBritish India. He completed his primary education in the local school of Matar and five grades in the English medium at Amod, Gujarat. Later he studied at Chhotubhai Purani’s Rashtriya New English School, Bharuch. He graduated in languages from Gujarat VidyapithAhmedabad in 1929. He started teaching in Gurukul at Songadh. He participated in Indian independence movement and was imprisoned for some time. He was associated with Jyotisangh, the women’s organization in Ahmedabad, from 1935 to 1945. He was introduced to Sri Aurobindo in 1945 and he moved to Pondicherry. He presided Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in 1970. He died on 13 January 1991.[1][2][3][4]

ABOUT THE POEM

The poem photographing mother by Sundaram shows the poet’s regrets and also the tragedy of the situation; of his mother’s sorrowful state of disease-ridden health and years of neglect. The photographer tries to be kind to the poet’s mother and calls her Ba. He tries to create her feel comfortable and relaxed and tells her to use caution to not blink. Even the slightest error would mean the waste of a plate and repetition of the entire procedure, The silver-tongued photographer fussing around his mother is barely doing his job unaware of her illness but his request to the poet’s mother has the other effects. The poet’s mother spent all her time doing the housework that she got no gratitude. Since she was passionate about her in-laws we are able to presume that she never protested. forgetting about her own problems she looked toward her children’s future. The poem is structured around the artificiality of the photograph and therefore the harsh reality during which the poet’s mother lives. The poet and his brother try and compensate their mother by trying to alleviate her pain and pleasing her in various ways which are shown within the poem as taking her bent show her town and therefore the palaces, parks, cinema halls, and theatres. But this just looks as if a measly token of appreciation. The poet doesn’t hesitate to require the blame partly for his mother’s condition and feels shame and regret as he sees her lifeless smile plastered on her mother’s face and lastly, it’s shown that s a memorial of affection, he takes her to the studio for s photograph for the last time.

The box-camera, because the name suggests, was basically an oversized box with a viewing
window at one end and therefore the lens at the opposite. Within the box was a sliding frame, which held
a ground glass plate and which the photographer could draw back and forth. The image could
be seen on this plate. Once the photographer had arranged the background and seated his
subject he would go under the black cloth with which the camera was covered. This helped
to keep the sunshine and adjust the main target. Since it had been out of the question to physically move the heavy
camera, the photographer would slide the frame back and forth until he was satisfied with the
result. What made his task harder was the actual fact that the image on the glass plate was
inverted. After that, he would cover the lens, replace the bottom glass plate with a glass plate
covered with a light-sensitive chemical like collodion, and so remove the duvet over the lens.

SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO A SUMMER’S DAY

ABOUT THE POET

William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet, and actor widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “the Bard”). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of the uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. They also continue to be studied and reinterpreted. Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613.[11][12][d] His early plays were primarily comedies and histories and are regarded as some of the best work produced in these genres. Until about 1608, he wrote mainly tragedies, among them HamletRomeo and JulietOthelloKing Lear, and Macbeth, all considered to be among the finest works in the English language.[2][3][4] In the last phase of his life, he wrote tragicomedies.

ABOUT THE POEM

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day is one of the 154 sonnets composed by William Shakespeare. Directed towards his beloved friend, this sonnet enhances the true beauty of the young man whose glories are sung in this sonnet. The poet’s friend in his exuberant self is lovelier and is ceaselessly present in comparison to the fleeting and oppressive summer. Shakespeare describes the summer’s diminishing beauty when the clouds dim its shine, its golden complexion is hidden. Contrary to this, his friend’s loveliness is eternal and everlasting, defying the choice of nature and misfortunes, his youth will not fade. He is immortalized in the poet’s verse for which death will not be able to claim him making him as long as people are present on this earth, he will live forever in his verses. This ‘love poem’ is written not in praise of the beloved it seems but as a self-glorification as death won’t’ be able to brag says the poet, but the poet shall brag as his poem will be present eternally

LINE WISE EXPLANATION

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
The poet asks his friend whether he would compare him to a summer’s day, but then soon professes that he is far lovelier and more constant than the summer
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Rough winds shake the beloved buds of may signifies the oncoming of summer when buds are starting to grow till spring when they will be in full bloom. And summer’s lease is far too short, which means summer is far too short.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
Here the poet wishes to stress upon this that the summer month is far too strong and short from heaven where it shines form. Often its golden appearance is hidden when clouds cover it thus its beauty is not timelessly present.
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
The poet says every beautiful object will lose its beauty someday by the choice of nature or misfortune.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’ st;
The poet’s friend will not lose his beauty rather his loveliness will be eternally present which is referred to as the eternal summer and his youth will remain with him.
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
Nor shall death be allowed to take the young man with him because in his verse he will live immortalized.
 So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
As long as men shall live and as far as eyes could see, the poet’s poem will live forever, and thus so will the young man.

THE BET

THE BET

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short story producer who is considered one of the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Chekhov had at first written stories to earn money but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovation which has influenced the evolution of modern short stories.

PLOT ANALYSIS 

In the Bet, Chekhov puts forth a really intriguing argument, whether captivity is worse than death penalty. He portrays this through the characters in his play, during which a banker proposes a lawyer to participate during a bet where he’s asked to spend fifteen years of his life in voluntary confinement with the minimum level of entertainment available at his disposal. The lawyer is embodied as a awfully naive youth who indulges himself during this with no regrets or remorse. Through this Chekhov brings to our attention the foolishness of youth where the lawyer, just to achieve two million dollars gave up fifteen years of his independence. it’s then left to our interpretation on whether the lawyer has changed for the higher or for the more severe as, during those years, the lawyer certainly grows wiser but also cynical and pessimistic. He shows gratitude towards the banker and is thankful to him for the wisdom he gained from the books but he also despises the very wisdom he gained from them. it’s very aptly shown how separation from human society has taken a toll on the lawyers he starts perceiving men with contempt and ridicules their naivety. The story ends with the layer renouncing the 2 million dollars which it seems is meant to point out how the lawyer now doesn’t care about monetary gains like he accustomed. Whether it had been an utter failure or an immeasurable gain on the lawyer’s part is left open-ended.

CHARACTER SKETCH OF THE LAWYER

In the bet initially, the lawyer is introduced by Chekhov as a young man who is tempted by the proposal of two million million dollars and is prepared to sacrifice his independence for it. Later on, because the story progresses, the lawyer is shown to become very wise and idealistic. He values his ideals and morals then again he also gives in to his voices when he starts drinking and smoking constantly. Nevertheless, the lawyer reaches wise words and starts despising human interactions altogether which shows how years of confinement have taken a toll on him. After dwelling within the literary wonders of the banker’s books he involves realize that every one material and earthly possessions area worthless and humans who strive to achieve from them are foolish to try and do so for death which is able to eventually come won’t allow you to leave a trace behind. This shows that the lawyer who was once very daring and greedy for obtaining the money has become very cynical and free from material gains. Lastly, the lawyer is shown renouncing the 2 million dollars and thereby sticking to his moral principle.

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG

Mad Girl’s Love Song

Summary

This poem summary focuses on the poem ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ by the confessional poet Sylvia Plath. Before looking at the content of the poem, one must look at its title though. ‘Mad’ is here used to mean both mentally unstable, and angry. The fact that Plath characterizes herself as a ‘mad girl’ shows that she is both self-reflexive, and self-mocking. It seems, at first glance, to be a poem about lost love and its caustic effects.

‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is made up of six stanzas. The first five stanzas are tercets consisting of three lines, while the sixth and final stanza is a quatrain consisting of four lines. The first stanza introduces Plath speaking to us readers in her own person, in the mode of all confessional poetry. Plath plays on the saying “seeing is believing.” She shuts her eyes and the world that is making her suffer seems to disappear. However, when she reopens her eyes, it is evident that she has not been able to escape that world. When she doesn’t see the world, she believes that it is dead. But when she confronts the world in front of her eyes, she cannot deny its existence. Plath ends this stanza by saying that the lover whose absence is making her miserable is probably just an illusion that she herself has created within her troubled mind.

In the second stanza, Plath says that the stars that could have lit up her life have gone “waltzing out”. This particular expression has two connotations – one, that only the stars had given her joy when they had still been there, in which case she is hinting at the fact that the relationship she is lamenting wasn’t very fulfilling, to begin with, and two, that even the stars are happy to desert her in her misery. Next, Plath says that in place of the stars, “arbitrary blackness” has come “gallop(ing) in.” The fact that this blackness is arbitrary shows that it can affect anybody at any time. Plath is, in fact, hinting at depression here. “Galloping” connotes a fast-paced movement, like an onslaught. It is as if depression has charged at her suddenly, and attacked her with full force. The third line of this stanza is a repetition of the first line of the poem, with Plath pretending that all her sorrows will disappear if only she stops acknowledging the existence of this world.

In the third stanza, Plath says that she dreamed of her lover casting a spell on her to make sure that she ends up in her bed. But this spell smacks of black magic, rather than the romantic sense of a man ‘charming’ a woman with his ways. She goes on to say that in her dream, her lover sang to her and kissed her “quite insane.” The fact that she uses the more formal ‘insane’ rather than the colloquial ‘crazy’ shows that she is not talking of romance, but of the adverse effects of love. Moreover, the only place where her lover is seen is in a dream, which leads her to the logical conclusion that she must have conjured him up inside her head.

The fourth stanza has Plath talking of both heaven and hell and saying that neither matters to her. God is no longer up in the sky where He belongs, hell’s fires have been quenched, and both the good angels and Satan’s men have disappeared from her life. Plath is hinting at the fact that her madness is oblivious to consequences since the rational man fears God’s judgment, but she does not. This stanza ends with the repetition that the earth seems to disappear when she closes her eyes. Reading this line immediately reminds us that in fact, the earth will reappear when she opens her eyes once again. Thus Plath is aware (though she may not want to admit it) that heaven and hell are also real, and that her actions have consequences. The suffering that she is undergoing is after all a consequence of her love for a man who never deserved her.

In the fifth stanza, Plath says that she had once believed that her lover, who had deserted her, would one day return to her. However, that does not seem to be happening. Instead, she is growing old. Plath is intensely aware that “love is for the young.” Plath goes on to say that with the passing of years, she has started to forget his name. Here a tone of bitterness is detected as if by forgetting his name she is revenging herself on him for forgetting her. The fact that the name is slipping from her again makes her think that perhaps the lover was just an illusion.

In the sixth stanza, Plath says that instead of a man she should have loved a thunderbird. The Thunderbird is a mythical bird that supposedly leaves for the winter but always returns in springtime. This has two connotations. Firstly, Plath is hinting that she would have compromised and been happy if her lover had only been present sometimes rather than be with her forever. This is an indication of the fact that she suffers from low self-esteem. Secondly, Plath is saying that she would prefer an imaginary and inconsistent love, rather than a real and absent one. The tone of anguish here is unmistakable. The poem ends with the repetition of the first and third lines from the first stanza, in which Plath seems, in fact, to retreat to a world of imagination with her eyes closed and becomes enveloped entirely by her troubled mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis

This poem analysis of ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is divided into three parts – context, rhyme scheme and rhetorical devices, and deeper meaning. In the absence of any one of these, this poem explanation would be incomplete.

Context: ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ was written by Plath while she was still at Smith College, and before her first suicide attempt on 24th August 1953. An early poem, this is nevertheless exemplary of Plath’s work and her style of poetry writing as a whole. Dealing with the themes of depression and schizophrenia, this confessional poem shows Plath being as unabashed as she has always been in her best poetry. The combination of anger and anguish point to her attempt to give self-expression to her suicidal thoughts, to represent the tumultuous emotions one can go through before taking this supposedly irrational step. Hence it is that Plath clearly characterises herself as mentally unstable. The schizophrenia that was the spirit of the age in the postmodern era is also evident in Plath’s movement between seeing the world clearly and being unable to escape it at one moment, and then doubting its very existence at the next moment.

Rhyme Scheme and Rhetorical Devices: This part of the poem analysis is based on how Plath follows the verse form of a ‘villanelle’ in ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’. A villanelle is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. Here the first line of the first stanza (“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead”) is repeated in the last line of the second and fourth stanzas, and the penultimate line of the sixth stanza. The third line of the first stanza (“I think I made you up inside my head”) is again repeated in the last line of the third, fifth and sixth stanzas. Moreover, the first and third lines of all the six stanzas rhyme with one another. Hence it can safely be said that ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is a perfect villanelle. The kind of repetition that goes into the making of a villanelle like this one also points to obsession, which is consistent with the obsession that Plath seems to be having with the lover that she has lost in this poem.

A rhetorical device that Plath is using in this poem is personification, in which a non-living thing is endowed the qualities of a human being. By giving the stars the ability to waltz, and the “arbitrary blackness” the ability to gallop, Plath is personifying them without however capitalizing their names. This shows that she is in fact hinting at something greater than light and darkness. She is acknowledging the power of both hope and depression to make and mar a (wo)man’s life.

Deeper Meanings: This part of the poem explanation focuses on two possible interpretations of ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ that might not be apparent in the very words of the poem, but seem obvious enough to a reader acquainted with Plath’s life and work. Both of these interpretations depend on the various references that Plath may be making through the use of the word “you” in this poem.

It is well known that Plath’s father passed away when she was just eight years old. The theme of betrayal that is apparent when Plath says that the “you” in her poem has never returned is also apparent in poems such as ‘Daddy’, in which Plath speaks of the absent presence of her father in her life. In both these poems again, there is a tone of yearning, with an underlying anger that threatens to break out at any instant.

The other thing that “you” could refer to is Plath’s own writing skills. Plath could be saying that she had only imagined she could write, that in fact it was just a dream or an illusion. This is consistent with the low self-esteem that we associate with one who suffers from depression, and with generations of women writers who had been led to believe that they are not fit for the writing profession. Plath, like all American women of the 50s and 60s, thought that marriage and child-bearing were not compatible with writing as a career. In response to rising pressure from her mother to get married while she was still in college, perhaps Plath had been unable to concentrate on her poetry, believing she would no longer be able to pursue it, and making herself believe that she wasn’t even very good at it to begin with.

No matter what “you” refers to, the heart of the matter is that Plath is absolutely honest about how much that “you” matters to her, and this is why the poem appears to readers to be so passionately written.

STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

 

About the Poet:

Robert Frost was born to William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Moodie on 26th March 1894 in San Francisco. After he lost his father to Tuberculosis, a six-year-old Frost moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was during his high school years in Lawrence that a young Frost who would later go on to become the Poet Laureate of the United States of America got interested in reading and writing. Frost later enrolled at Harvard University. In 1912, Frost moved with his wife Elinor Miriam White to New Hampshire and it was then that he came in contact with British poets who greatly influenced his poetry. By the time Frost returned to America in 1915, his reputation as a poet had been concretized and he already had two poetry collections to his fame – A Boy’s Will and North of Boston. By the 1920s, Frost was considered at the top of the poets’ circle in America. Some of his important collections are New Hampshire, A Further Range, Steeple Bush, In the Clearing, and so on. He was awarded frequently during his lifetime receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry.

About the Poem:

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was written by Robert Frost in 1922 and published in 1923 in his New Hampshire Volume.

This poem is a perfect exemplification of Frost’s meditative style of writing. The biography has it, that Frost wrote in course of a single night time, such that it can be considered as a spontaneous overflow of emotion. However, the spontaneity in the poem is not of the kind which we notice in the poems of the Romantics of the 19th Century. It is muted, somber, and deeply introspective. Following traditionFrostian poetry, this poem is very simple. There is hardly a word in this poem for which we will have to open the dictionary. Nor are there any devices that shroud any transparency of meaning. This simplicity is a typical trait of Frost’s poems. However, beneath the veneer of simplicity Frost has planted a deep philosophy born out of a conflict between pleasure and responsibilities – something which we all experience at every point in my life. It is the universality of the message of the poem which makes it speak to all ages and all readers. It has been almost ninety-two years since the poem got published, but readers across the globe still read it with the same interest since it will always be contemporary to the human condition. This poem bears testimony to the fact that poetry does not necessarily have to be complex. It can be very accessible and still be one of the revered pieces of poetry.

Stanza-wise Summary:

1st Stanza:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

The first stanza documents the narrator’s first response upon entering the woods. Going by the repertoire of Frost’s subject matter, it is safe to assume that the woods belong to the English countryside. The narrator says that he thinks he is aware of the ownership of the woods and that the owner has his home in the village, away from the wilderness. With the very first line, it becomes clear to the readers that the narrator exercises no proprietorship over the woods. The third line of the stanza gives the readers a slight indication that the narrator might be trespassing – “He will not see me stopping here”. This musing of the narrator makes us wonder whether the owner would have had a problem with someone randomly stopping at his woods if he were present at the scene to notice the same. With the words “fill up with snow’, the poet draws a beautiful picture of snow-flakes spreading across the wilderness. The word ‘his’ in the last line opens a window of meaning. Frost could have used the article ‘the’ but instead, he chooses to use ‘his’ to indicate the fact that the narrator has no scruples against enjoying the beauty of something which does not belong to him.

The task for the reader: Replace the words ‘his’ with ‘the’ to check how the meaning is getting altered. This will go on to show that every word used in a poem is used economically and with a purpose.

2nd Stanza:

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

The second stanza speaks about the absurdity of the act of stopping in the middle of woods on a really cold night. This act of the poet perplexes his horse. Having traveled with his master quite a bit, the horse is used to stopping only when there is a farmhouse near in order to take rest after a long period of travel. Hence, the horse finds it a rather absurd act on the part of the narrator to stop when there is no scope of rest. As readers, it is hard to say whether the horse, being just an animal really thought all of this. Maybe the narrator himself considered his act of stopping on his journey without any purpose strange and tried to convey the strangeness of his actions by speaking about it as if they could be the horse’s thoughts. The third line paints a picture of the geography of the location in which the poet is stopping – there are trees around and also a frozen lake. The fact that the lake is frozen reveals that it is high wintertime. This information gets stressed in the last line of the poem when the narrator declares that it “the darkest evening of the year”. In other words, it is the peak of winter.

3rd Stanza:

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

This stanza highlights the silence of the night. The narrator’s horse shakes his harness which leads the bells on it to give out a jingling sound. The horse does so as a means to inquire after why the poet has stopped in the absence of a farmhouse. Apart from the sound of the bells, the poet can also hear the sound of the flowing wind and that of the soft snowflakes falling on the ground. The words, ‘only other’ accentuate the silence of the night. The night is so quiet that one can hear the wind flow and the flakes fall. Such a deep silence is also an indication of the solitude which the narrator must be experiencing during his moments in the woods.

4th Stanza:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

In the final stanza, the poet talks about the beauty of the woods and the sense of duty of the narrator. He says that the wilderness is lovely, dark, and deep. The darkness of the winter night is enhancing the charm of the woods in the narrator’s eyes and the density of the woods due to a large number of trees in it, makes it a pleasure to just stand and perceive the beauty of the woods. However, from the second line itself the narrator makes it very clear that although the woods are extremely enchanting, he cannot stop enjoying the pleasures which it has to offer. This is because the narrator has ‘promises to keep’. Promises here stands for any commitments that the poet might have made. It is clear that the poet is on his way to somewhere.

Critical Analysis:

On the outset, the poem Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening appears to be the musings of a lone traveler on the beauty of snow-filled woods on a wintery night. This is juxtaposed with his awareness of time constraints that restrict him from giving in to the beauty of Nature due to his sense of duty. However, after delving deeper into the poem we realize that the poem is a microcosm of a very common situation which we all come across at different points in our lives. It is an exemplification of those times when we are tempted to just sit back and relax; to just take a back-seat in our own lives to appreciate the small joys and pleasures that life has to offer but can’t because of all the work-load that always ties us down.

In spite of being written in an older century, this poem is all the more relevant to the life of the 21st Century when life moves at a cosmic pace and we always have someplace to get to or some pressing work breathing down our necks. While leading this busy lifestyle, there come those times when we just want to give it all up to rejuvenate and enjoy life. However, our pressing sense of duty gives us a reality check and we realize that there is no time for relaxation unless we get done with all the work that life has assigned to us. The constant tussle between pleasure and duty which makes up our life is the crux around which the poem revolves. Through this poem, Robert Frost directly speaks to all of us stuck in a similar situation in our lives and sympathizes with us through his narrator who is going through a similar dilemma. Frost assures us that if we feel like we are losing out on the small pleasures of life because of our sense of duty and responsibilities, we are not alone and there are many like us. The poet seems to be telling us that it is all right if certain moments of joy and beauty are slipping out of our hands because in life duties and responsibilities should always come first. There will always be time to relax and enjoy once we are done with a fair share of work. Relaxation and indulgences will seem much better then because we will not have the guilt of wasting time staining our enjoyment. Hence, it can be said that through his narrator, Robert Frost offers encouragement to the ones who are in the dog years of their life. It is lovely to notice how such an important philosophy of life is being imparted by the poem through the use of very simple words and a very simple situation. The brevity of the poem indeed belies its profundity.

Although Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening cannot be classified under Nature Poetry, it abounds in wonderful Nature Imagery. The poem offers a beautiful pen-picture of snow-filled woods that look nothing short of breath-taking on a lovely winter night. These woods are so enchanting that they have the power to lull a person’s sense of duty temporarily and make him stop work in order to bask in the beauty of Nature.

Another interpretation of the poem could be that the speaker is towards the end of his life – “the darkest evening of the year”. Winter is usually associated with death. Hence, at this juncture of his life, the speaker wants to make his life productive with a last burst of activity instead of giving in to the quietness and serenity which old age is usually associated with. The speaker is tempted to just let go of work and enjoy life. However, he reminds himself just in time that he must not listen to his desire to rest since rest is all he will get after death. He ends the poem with the recurring thought that he still has a lot to accomplish in life,

 

WINTER

It was winter I was sitting outside

sipping  my milk as I sighed

reading the newspaper headlines, country’s at war again it read

Frustrated I put the newspaper aside

Then came tipper tapper of feet

a crash and he was lapping milk happily

as I saw him look at me

I reached out and stroked him lovingly

he dragged me away from reality,

and we played that day endlessly

ANOUSHKA MUKHERJI

EXPLANATION

The poem shows a beautiful bonding between a dog and its owner. The poet expresses distress when she comes across the various happenings around the world and how she feels sad about it. At that moment her pet dog comes around wagging his tails and comforting her with his presence. This poem is an exact representation of the poet’s relationship with her dog. We sometimes crave human interaction so much that we sometimes are ignorant towards those innocent creatures that are adept at easing our worries and keeping us company. The poem’s main focus is on the web of problems created by humankind which humans aren’t adept at handling themselves. For some peace and quiet, they revert to harmful means. We are easily dissatisfied with the true facts and reality that it takes a toll on our body itself. Man creates problems for himself but alas cannot find the necessary solutions. This isn’t the case with animals. Animals create their own harmony and cohabit with each other. Where necessary they get involved otherwise they look for peaceful coexistence.

The background of the poem is set upon a lonely winter morning where the poet is reading the daily newspaper which ultimately leads to misery and distress which the poet wants to avoid. The daily happenings are recurrent and loathsome as they portray that the countries are at war again. Troublesome cases and horrible scenarios swirl in her mind with images of bloodshed and terror spreading over countries like the plague. Out of frustration she puts the newspaper aside and tries to cool her heated mind. The line ‘ tipper tapper of feet’ is of particular relevance to the poet as it means the arrival of her pet dog whom she adores. As any mischievous pet would do, so he also spills milk so as to get a taste and that makes the poet smile while alleviating her of her distress. The arrival of her pet dog signifies that she became engaged with him to forget all about the present reality. For her, it was enough to enter her wonderland and like Alice get lost in it with her dog and forget momentarily about her worries and dwell deep into a fantasy-like or dream-like state. This poem is a perfect representation of animal lovers and their little fantasy-like world in which they engage to escape reality and its harsh circumstances. This is true for every animal lover as the poet being a dog lover herself experiences utmost happiness and pleasure when she spends time with her beloved pet without any worries.

MELANCHOLIC MEMORY

The silhouettes of my dreams

your lingering presence, a faint smell of ecstasy

an enigmatic memory, a nagging remembrance

your honeyed words and scented presence, my thoughts still reek of

your disheartening essence

My body yearns for your sweet gentle caresses

but my mind has grown weary of your wicked ways

Of your abhorrent reassurances and unfaithful eyes

my heart has crumpled from so many scars

creating an endless, endless abyss

Those moth-eaten letters mean nothing to me, because you still live,

in the chasm of  my memory

losing all sense of humanity and bonding with ingenuity

You lost me the day you dashed, making a run for the sun dipped skyline

your melancholic memory now a mere distress

and thoughts filled with the agony that now I must let rest

For now, I know you no more to remember you

As my mother

ANALYSIS 

The poem is set on a somber note where the poet is remembering her mother and at the same time berates her for abandoning her. At a very early age, the poet’s mother leaves her and now only some essence of her is left in her memory. Although the memory is of happier times, of her mother’s sweet presence, of her honeyed voice, it is still painful for the poet to remember all of this. The poet is having conflicting thoughts, whether she should hold on to her memories of her mother or let go as it is still crystal and still painful for her. The letters that her mother left her now means nothing to her as it is a reminder to her that she is not coming back. Because she was deceived by her mother and her unfaithful reassurance, that she doesn’t believe her anymore. This poem shows the thin bond shared by a mother and her daughter and how abandonment caused such great pain and scarred the poet lasting a lifetime. Repetition is used to emphasize each memory and the mood of the poet in the present as she is recounting her old memories. At first, the poet could not come to terms with the fact that her mother had left her and so she was always in a state of restlessness and anxiety, always waiting for her return but when she slowly started to grow up and started accepting the fact that her mother was to coming back, those melancholic memory change to distressing ones and now the word mother brings a bad taste to her mouth as it opens up fresh wounds. The poem is set on a beautiful yet sad background as the memories are beautiful yet a painful remembrance. The poet has personified the pages of the letters that the mother used to send to the poet. Like forgetting a painful past, the poet must also let go of any love left for her mother that she still holds and must not dwell on her past. The concluding lines of the poem shows how the poet is coping up with the after-effects of finally forgetting her mother.