Emotions and Imagery
Emotions and Imagery of the Poem “Mutterings Over the Crib of a Deaf Child” “There is universality in Wright’s work not only in subject matter but in form and technique as well”, these words have been said by Van den Heuvel about the poetry of James Wright. No doubts, he meant also the poem “Mutterings Over the Crib of a Deaf Child” by James Wright. This poem is one of poet’s impressive works in which he used traditional elements and new means of expression of his arts.
Being written in pastoral surrealistic style the poem tells about handicapped, namely deaf, child and two people worrying about his deafness so much that they mutter over the crib of the child about the problems which can be faced by the deaf in his future everyday life. It is needless to say that the poem appeals to the readers who suffer from deafness of other people and consider them limited in their abilities and lives.
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By means of big variety of images transferring senses to the readers, the author conveys emotions of these two people who worry about future of the deaf child, herewith, each has quite different feelings one of them is anxious about everyday life of the child while the other feels calm and secure about it. Having carefully read the poem of James Wright, it becomes obvious that two people over the child’s crib are anxious father and calm mother.
Undoubtedly, both parents love and care about their child, so that they discuss their vision of his life quietly, not to disturb the deaf child by any loud sounds. It is vivid that the person asking questions is tense father of the deaf child and the person answering the questions is self-possessed mother. Each of them has their own emotions which drastically differ, and this can be seen and felt from the words they say. Moreover, the author uses different means of surrealistic poetry to express emotions of the parents.
In order to convey father’s emotions, the poet uses the words and word combinations with the sad connotation, for example: broken afternoon, cool, starlings cry, day is gone, finger bleeds, nighttime die. These phrases tend to depress readers and even make them feel sympathy for the deaf child. Father’s fear of his child facing reality is shown to the reader by means of his emotional words. The author shows that the father of the deaf child is really frightened by the problems which might arise before his child in everyday life “how will he know to rise at morning? On the contrary, while reading the words of mother, who explains so easily and calmly the way her child can understand the sense which the deaf cannot feel, readers’ attention should be paid at love and piece which is expressed by the words like well, curious, lift him into my arms etc. Moreover, to illustrate assuredness in the child’s good future, mother reminds father about his youth, when all the feelings are much accurate and sharper. In addition, she explains that in any case she will do all the possible to make her child happy, regardless “he hears my song, or not”.
The deaf child should experience surrounding world the same as others, and he has to learn not only good things, but pain as well. Mother understands that these can help the deaf child not to feel deprived. Up to the end of the poem, father seems to be less frightened as he was at the beginning. His words “well, good enough” show his partial agreement with the wife. Thus, in my opinion, it is mother who reflects the views and ideas of James Wright. Speaking about overall spirit of the poem, it cannot be considered sentimental.
The aim of the author is not to make readers shed a tear but to think of disabled as of usual able people. James Wright is trying to expand people’s knowledge of handicapped in the way he is showing by his poem. Moreover, this poem calls readers to be less frightened and encourages them to accept life as it is. Each person can see himself or herself at the place of father being afraid for the future, however, in everyone’s life there is a person, like mother in the poem, directing at positive moments and giving wise advices.
And this is far not all conclusions, which can be drawn by each reader in the rich and various imagery of Wright’s poem. Analyzing the structure of the poem, it should be mentioned about special way it is presented by the author, namely it is built up of six columns three of them are fathers words in the form of question and three columns are mothers answers to the questions explaining her view of child’s life and expressing her love and care of him. The structure of the poem is strict as the words are strictly divided between parents and separated in columns.
Interchange of father’s questions and mother’s answers helps the reader to understand and feel the mood and emotions of the parents. Consequently, the readers feel emotions of the author and his perception of disability. Concerning the language of Wright’s poetry, it is, as usually, grammatically simple, however, full of strong images and stark structures of perceptions. The poem which is analyzed is not an exception since it is full of sense words expressing emotions and attitude towards deaf child.
As an example, words bell, cry, clock, whistle, flute, sing, song refer to hearing and sound. Such words as grass, dark, shade as well a phrase as lifting curious brows are related with the sight. Along with sound and sight, the reader can feel the words by touch, for example air affects the skin or lift into my arms. Herewith, the quantity of the words which have the hidden meaning of sound obviously exceeds the rest of sense words in the poem.
The poem can be characterized by bright imagery which is created by the author by means of various images. Images used by the poet have their quite effective purpose for readers. They arise before readers’ eyes just after reading and make a special effect either positive or negative impression from what they read. To illustrate, the image of dawn, fire, bed, birchen bears positive meaning, while images of bobwhite, shade, pain, darkening express some negative connotation.
Thus the poem is saturated with the words having connotation of sense and bright images which enable the readers to catch the idea of the poet as well as to form their own perception of the problem highlighted in the poem. Making up a conclusion, it should be highlighted that the poem which has been analyzed is a bright example of Wright’s special style of expressing his ideas through imagery. Vast variety of senses and images which are present in the poem by their hidden meaning create special emotional atmosphere enabling readers to catch the idea and feel emotions of the poem.
Emotions of the poem are contradictory on one hand, it is anxiety expressed by father and, on other hand, and it is calmness and love, which sounds in mother’s words. To sum up, it is impossible not to mention what critics say discussing Wright’s work. Wright’s poetry is considered special not that the author has “any new philosophical insights into the problems of existence but that he has the gift of using language in a way that the human spirit is awakened and alerted to its own possibilities”.