My Death and Yusef Komunyakaa’s Facing It both revolve around themes of death. Each author’s approach to the subject is vastly different, yet there are also striking parallels. Both poems were filled with imagery, which caused me to pause and consider how I relate to death, be It my own Imminent demise, or the death of those around me. For the Anniversary of my Death, is a poem depicting the tale of a man who realizes that death is unavoidable. Each year as we go about our daily business we all without celebration, pass our individual death anniversaries.

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We have no way of nowing when this day Is and few of us take the time to contemplate this truth. Most of us are living our lives in fear of that day, attempting to get as much life as possible Into our allotted time. Few of us take the time to think that It may even be tomorrow, and if so what have we truly accomplished. Facing It tells the story of a Vietnam Veteran visiting the memorial for the first time, he stands facing the memorial, reviewing the names, unconsciously In search of his own name, as though he can’t believe that he has truly survived the war.

He is facing the Memorial, but he Is also facing his past, facing his humanity. Merriam Webster defines imagery as language that causes people to imagine pictures in their mind. However imagery is more than just pictures in your mind. When I read a good book or poem, I become completely take away, It’s so much better than television or a movie. I can hear the rain falling or the birds chirping. I can taste the fried chicken or the cold lemonade. I empathize with the characters, I have been known to laugh out loud, or cry on many occasion while reading.

In my opinion a good use ot imagery is an essential attribute of a good writer. In the poems have chosen to compare there Is a significant presence of Imagery. While reading The Anniversary of My Death, I could almost

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feel the relief of a sunny day, smell the fresh air, and hear the wren singing. The writer uses Imagery and rhythm to take the reader to a place of melancholy and then enlghtenment. The poem is divided into two stanzas which direct the reader to the times before the writer’s death which Is like “a lifeless star and after he dies, when he says the falling of rain will cease and the song of the wren will be heard.

The writer seems to truly embrace the Idea of his death. After reading Merwlns work I wondered If It were not so much about his own death, ut death In general. We as humans are on a tireless journey. We go about our lives, eating but not tasting, hearing but not listening, seeing but not really understanding. We tend to take life for granted. Merwin speaks of waving fires and a lightless star. Fires bring about destruction, even the fires that we use to heat our homes, they are burning logs; causing death. r perhaps the fire Is symbolic of Hell, taunting him, showing him what could be waiting after death. The stars that we see at night, the lightless stars, are not alive they are simply burst of gas left from the iving stars. He goes on to speak of the things he will miss when he passes, such as the love of a woman; many of us dont appreciate the relationships we have in life. tOf3 think that’s true, be it your kindergarten teacher, or your first love, every relationship in life has an impact on the person you are.

Merwin reminds the reader that one of the things that will be dearest to us at our time of death will be our past loves. In closing Merwin writes of the rain ceasing to fall and of hearing the wren’s song. The images this conveyed in my mind were similar to the story of Noah in the bible. Although Merwin only had three days of rain, there was a cleansing of sort. And after the rain there was quiet stillness, with only the sound of birds chirping. It seemed as though like Noah, he had God’s promise that all was well.

Then he bowed, as though acknowledging that promise. Facing It looks at the aftermath of war; death and destruction. We are taken on a Journey with the author to visit his fallen comrades, to pay honor to their memory. He contemplates the stories of the other visitors, and reflects on the very real possibility that he could have also been among the tens of thousands of names listed there. He sees a soldier who lost his arm in the war and seems to convey having suffered a loss there also; not an appendage, but perhaps his innocence or peace of mind.

He fghts the urge to cry, but cannot help it as he has perhaps fought the urge to come to this memorial, but was drawn here still. While reading Facing It, I wondered if the author was writing about facing the images on the memorial, or facing the images in his head from fghting the Vietnam War. There are multiple occurrences of imagery; he speaks of birds of prey and the flash ofa brushstroke. The writer observes the similarities between his black skin and the lack granite of the wall. This brings to mind, that unlike in previous wars, in the Vietnam War skin color was not a factor.

The use of imagery in this work is fantastic. The “shimmer” of names on a blouse, the ephemeral beauty of brushstrokes that “flash” (in contrast to the booby trap’s “white flash”)”these could represent moments of quiet contemplation at the Wall, but Komunyakaa’s meditations are cut short by the bird’s wings and the threat of the “plane in the sky. ” Earlier in the poem, Komunyakaa depended on the stone to “let him go’; this woman walks away of her wn accord, leaving the names behind in ways that Komunyakaa cannot.

His gaze is uninterrupted, until the bird’s wing intervenes by way of flash and flashback: reflecting the mirrored surface of the granite and the sky, caught in fragments between the Jungles of Vietnam and the National Mall. It’s unclear in which context (past or present) we’re meant to see that sky and that plane. Just as the Wall is deliberately positioned between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to lend it historical context, Komunyakaa’s images and fragmentary syntax help suspend the action between now and then. Both authors have a grasp of imagery that draws the reader in.

In both works the author doesn’t out right state how they feel about death and dying, but the reader is left to draw their own conclusions. In On the Anniversary of my Death, the author seemed to celebrate his impending death, true there are things he would miss about his earthly life, but he looks forward to the peace of death. In Facing It the author seems to have somewhat contrasting feelings about death, he mourns the countless useless deaths of the war, yet seems to question his own survival. Having read these two works several times, nd forming my own interpretations, I feel the need to enjoy my life to the fullest.

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