Compare and Contrast the ways in which the poet describes the breakdown if the relationship. Comment on the effectiveness of their verse-craft
I chose to compare the poems: An Anniversary, by Vernon Scannel
Dismissal, by John Tripp
A Winters Tale, by D.H. Lawrence
In the poem ‘An Anniversary’; the poet describes the relationship and it’s breakdown as two leaves on a river, this is and example of ‘Personification’. In contrast to this poem in the poem ‘Dismissal’; Tripp describes the breakdown very much as it was, describing two people in a dreary pub, this is an example of ‘Pathetic fallacy’ as the setting is very boring and dark like the breakdown of the relationship. In ‘A Winters Tale’; Lawrence uses a similar verse-craft to Scannel in ‘An Anniversary’; with the relationship being described as a field but he still uses people in the poem to describe the people in the relationship. Lawrence also uses ‘Pathetic Fallacy’ as he describes a cold winter’s day when the relationship broke down.
In ‘An Anniversary’; the poet says:
‘The sky’s smeared monotone.’;
This means the sky was smeared with one colour, which may signify a boring colourless relationship.
‘Two willow leaves glide smoothly on
The water’s shimmering skin;’;
This is an example of ‘Enjambment’. It describes the leaves floating smoothly but apart from each other. The use of enjambment here helps the rhythm of the poem carry on smoothly like the leaves gliding. It could signify the two people still going on in life smoothly but not together. When he says ‘the water’s shimmering skin’; it gives the impression of being murky below and shiny on top. This could show there is more to the relationship than what people see initially or that when the relationship was still happening it may have looked alright to everyone else watching but there were things going on beneath the surface that weren’t alright.
‘Once, on a branch in the sun, they danced
And often touched each other;
They will not touch each other again,’;
In the relationship this signifies that they were once happy together but now they will never be together again. It could also mean that from the beginning the relationship would never last as all leaves fall off their branch so the relationship was doomed to failure.
The poet uses a lot of contrasts in this poem:
‘The sky’s smeared monotone.’;
‘Once, on a branch in the sun, they danced’;
This contrasts the happiness in the relationship before the breakdown to the boring monotone they have between each other now.
The poet uses vivid imagery all the way through the poem to describe the two leaves; he also uses ‘Personification’; the way that he describes the two leaves as people.
The tone of the poem changes as at the beginning when the poet is describing the relationship now it is quite morose, as the two leaves are no longer together. At the end he is describing the relationship before the breakdown and the tone is quite happy. This is an example of ‘Pathetic Fallacy’ as the tone reflects and complements what the poet is talking about.
Some examples of ‘Alliteration’; in the poem are:
They are all S sounds, this complements the flowing, smooth, gliding rhythm of the poem.
In the poem ‘Dismissal’; the poet describes the relationship breakdown very much like a story. In the whole poem he uses ‘Enjambment’; and the poem has a very continuous rhythm he also doesn’t use rhyme or assanance which also adds to its story-like quality.
The poet describes;
‘To this day I remember
that alcove: flaked coffee-coloured
paint, an ashtray spilling, two
This gives you a dingy, dreary mental image of a bar or pub, which complements the dark tone of the poem, which is a good use of ‘Pathetic fallacy’
I said, as if my little finger
Had been cut’;
This is a simile when the poet compares the pain of the relationship breakdown to be like cutting his little finger.
it took for her words to sink in’;
This shows that although the pain was more than having his finger cut, his brain didn’t register what had happened due to the extent of the pain it would have caused. The man was embarrassed and didn’t want to publicly show his pain . It is a very poignant poem.
In ‘A Winter’s Tale’; the poet says:
‘Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;’;
The poet uses imagery to describe the bleak weather and bleakness in the relationship. It may mean that yesterday the snow was scattered so they only had scattered problems in the relationship but now the good things in the relationship, which is the grass, hardly show through all the problems.
‘I cannot see her, since the mist’s pale scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.’;
This is the second stanza of the poem and it says that even though the man can’t see the woman he knows that she is there. She is waiting, almost eagerly, for him to say the relationship is over. The line ‘Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh’; shows that although she is waiting for him to tell her it’s over she is still upset at what he is going to say. It is also an example of ‘Alliteration’; it is an s sound which is repeated this gives a soft sighing sound to the words like what they are explaining this is also an example of an ‘onomatopoeia’;
‘Why does she come so promptly, when she must know
She’s only the nearer to the inevitable farewell?’;
He want’s to know why the woman comes to see him when she knows that he is going to end the relationship. He describes her coming promptly as if eager to get the bad news over with.
‘The hill is steep, on the snow my steps are slow-
Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?’;
This shows that his footsteps are slow as if he’s not sure about ending the relationship. They both go, knowing what will happen and not wanting it to end, but know that they can’t do anything about it.
The hill is steep like a quick abrupt end to the relationship and once you go over the edge i.e. the relationship ending, there is no way you can go back to the top, or the beginning of the relationship. The slow deep footsteps described are like deep memories from the past.
In the last line ‘Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?’;
Maybe he is holding back from telling her that the relationship is over because he feels blameworthy and downhearted that the relationship is ending. He also knows that the relationship is over and can’t go on but he still has some feelings for the woman. He may feel upset that she has come so promptly when she knows what he will say but she probably just wants to get the hurt and pain over with.
The structure of the poem is ‘ABAB’; when the 1st and 3rd and 2nd and 4th lines rhyme with each other e.g.:
‘Snow and Go’;
‘Emerge and Verge’;
They are the last words in verse one that rhyme.
I think the three poems, although they are about the same thing, describe it very differently. Dismissal describes it very much like speech whereas An Anniversary uses nature to describe the breakdown. A winter’s Tale is a mixture as in stanza one it uses mainly imagery with the field to describe the relationship, but in stanza two it uses run-on-lines to describe his feelings. Then in stanza three it uses a mixture by using the simple ABAB structure from verse one, but still using his thoughts of the woman, rather than imagery of the field, to describe the relationship.
All three poems describe the breakdown very differently but very effectively.