Hot And Cold: Warmth In Poetry

1681 words - 7 pages

Hot and Cold: Warmth in Poetry
Poetry is one of the more mysterious denizens of the literary world. A poem can be anything, from a three-lined poem known as a haiku to a giant epic poem like the “The Odyssey.” They can be rhyming or non-rhyming, long or short, sensible or nonsensical. Even lyrics in songs can be considered poetry, seeing as how they are rhyming and flow so well. The parameters for a poem are wide, the requirements few; but no matter what style or author you read, from Homer to Doctor Seuss, symbolism is the driving force behind it all. Symbolism is the reason for every piece of poetry written so far, even some of Doctor Seuss’s books. Countless words, thoughts, and ideas are used to convey symbolism. A flower, a tree, and even the color blue just to name a few. But one recurring piece of symbolism found throughout the literary world is the use of temperature. The warmth of the sun or a comforting smile, the cold of night or a dark hospital room, the use of temperature plays a part in many poems and plays its part well. But the part it plays can vary from writer to writer, poem to poem. The three major uses of temperatures though are to show the warmth of memory versus the harsh cold of reality, the warmness of comfort, and how warmth is used to show life and vitality while cold is used to signify harshness and cruelty.
The first two poems to discuss are “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen. These two poems are very different in their subject, but their usage of temperature in the form of memory gives them a common denominator. Both speak of memory as a warm, comforting feeling. Opposite of memory is reality, which is cold, cruel and unforgiving. In Wordsworth’s poem he reminisces on a time when he was walking through the countryside on a warm sunny day, when he suddenly comes across a “host of golden daffodils; / beside the lake, beneath the trees,” (Wordsworth 4-5). This picture the author puts into our heads is one of a bright, beautiful day of walking and basking in nature’s glory. However, you realize that this is just a memory towards the end when Wordsworth states that “For oft, when on my couch I lie / in vacant or in pensive mood” (19-20). This encounter with the daffodils is not a current activity, but a memory upon which he thinks upon whenever he is dealing with the sadness and confusion of real life. The second poem, “Disabled,” is much darker than its counterpart. Owen speaks rather of a war veteran sitting alone in a hospital room, who “shivered in his ghastly suit of gray / Legless, sewn short at elbow” (Owen 2-3). In this poem the reverse tactic of Wordsworth is used, with the depression of life coming to the forefront while the comforting memory follows the cold introduction. The warmth in this poem is not so much directly stated as implied, as the disabled veteran talks of the old days in which he was the town’s pride and joy, very handsome, and a soccer player to...

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