Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bells for John Whiteside's daughter

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The elegies of Ransom (“Bells For John Whiteside’s Daughter”) and Meehan (“Child Burial”) both use different diction, imagery, and scheme to achieve each of its desired effects, which essentially is to lament the loss of a child. Both use ironic word choices to demonstrate the mourning of a lost child; at the same time, the authors use the formal elements of a poem to support the essence of their respective poems.

In Ransom’s “Bells For John Whiteside’s Daughter,” he uses an ironic choice of words to give meaning to the poem, the melancholic mourning of a loss child. In the first stanza, Ransome gives life to the dead child “There was such speed in her little body;” however, in the next line, Ransome describes how the mourner was surprised by the death, which totally contrasted the child’s life “And such lightness in her footfall.” The mourner was “astonished” with the death. Ransom further uses his choice of words to tell his audience how the child was a vibrant, indefatigable young girl

“The lazy geese…

For the tireless heart within the little

Lady with rod that made them rise

From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle

Goose-fashion under the skies!”

In the last stanza, Ransom uses his word choice to show that death still “vexed” the mourner. The mourner was still confused how the once lively girl, laid still “To say we are vexed at her brown study, Lying so primly propped.” In a different way, Meehan also uses diction to clearly illustrate his elegy’s intent, to mourn the loss of a child. Meehan talks about how no longer can the mourner be in contact with the child using solemn words “So cold down in the dark. No light can reach you and teach you.” The mourner is telling that the child will never grow up, always “Ignorant…of the sun and its work.” The mourner then uses words filled with imagery to show his loss “my lamb, my calf, my eaglet, my cub, my kid, my nestling, my suckling, my colt.” She then talks how she would go “to a quiet mossy place,” which resembles the wording Meehan used earlier” they smelt of wood smoke, of October.” This, in essence, shows how the mother of the loss child’s pain is so great that she had rather not bore the child than endure the pain of losing him.

In addition to diction, Ransome uses formal elements of an elegy to support the essence of his poem and its meaning of mourning the death of a child. In the first stanza, the mourner is “astonished” at the death, not ready to face it. However, the recurring memories of the child in the next three stanzas have helped him accept the death (Qoutes available in previous paragraph). Finally, the mourner is ready to accept death, although still perplexed by it

“But now go the bells, and we are ready,

In one house we are sternly stopped

To say we are vexed at her brown study”

Meehan also uses his formal elements in “Child’s Burial.” The two line stanzas allow the mourner to change views quickly "In the first half of the poem, the mourner talks about the child; however, in the second half, the mourner would rather no have gone through with having the child “You would spill from me into the earth drop by bright red drop." Through out the poem, the mourner is addressing the child directly symbolizing that maybe she has still not realized that the child is gone for good.

In conclusion, both Ransom and Meehan use diction and the formal elements of a poem to give meaning to their poems. They use word choice to describe and lament the loss of a child; furthermore, the use of the length of stanzas and formal elements add to this essence.



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