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Analysis of "The Wisdom of Shelley"

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Batoule Hyjazie

on 8 July 2014

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Transcript of Analysis of "The Wisdom of Shelley"

"You come down, after/ five winters, X," (Clarke 1-2)
"X" is commonly used as a symbol for the unknown. The "X" within the poem seems to represent the possibility that this abusive person could be anyone. Therefore, Any person can have the power to hurt you in the same way that her mother was hurt by her father at any given point. In this case, "after five winters".
"bristlin' with roses/ and words words words/ brazen as brass
The person, "X", who had come to visit the girl came tense, with roses. When someone is tense it suggest tendencies to violence, a foreshadowing of what will come later. The shortening of the word "bristlin'" (Clarke 3) creates the effect that the speaker has an accent but also it allows the poem to follow a nice poetic rhythm and structure. With the repetition of "word" (Clarke 4), there is an emphasis on the fact that someone who is fake or is trying to hide something will use many words, at times eloquent and over the top, as if to make up for it. Here the simile shows that his many words are especially bold and "brazen" (Clarke 5) which shows how his actions give some hints as to what type of qualities he might have as a violent and abusive person.
"Like a late blizzard/You bust in our door/talkin' April and snow and rain"
This part of the poem starts off with a continued simile describing the character of the uninvited guest, "X", who reminds her of her father. A "late blizzard" (Clarke 6), is a storm that occurs usually in early spring and is usually dreaded. It is something unwelcome and unexpected and leaves a lot of trouble in its wake. Moreover, this person busts into their "door" (a synecdoche representing the whole being the house), something only a violent person would do. The door is a symbol of protection, it is like the moat of the castle in modern terms. When someone bursts through it, they are destroying that protective barrier between the dangerous outside world and the comfort of home. This person also speaks of "April and snow and rain" everyday things which symbolize different things as a whole. All together, they show that this person is acting as if his appearance is welcome and that he is allowed to start casual conversation such as the weather and time. April is a reminder of the time that had passed since this unwelcome stranger last visited. The snow and rain represents the bad weather to which he was compared to. These words also act as reminders to what type of person this stranger is.
"litterin' the table/with poems-/as if we could trust them/I can't"
The word "litterin'" has a very negative connotation since when someone is littering they are essentially polluting the environment with garbage. In this case this uninvited guest is polluting their table with poems. "litterin' the table with poems" could also be a metaphor which shows that he is polluting them with words that seem sweet and eloquent like a poem but are in actuality hurtful and filled with lies. This can be furthered when she states that "as if we could trust them". This stranger had once fooled them and he came back again to attempt to do the same thing again. This prompts her to think of her father in the next stanza. The tone of the girl in the last line is almost sarcastic. She's almost insinuating, that there is no way that they would fall into the same trap again and trust his poems, a symbol of lies disguised as eloquent words. She simply states at the end that she can't
"I've seen love/die."
This is an other final thought to the conclusions that she came through her experiences as a child watching the abuse of her mother at the hands of her father and of her experience with this unwelcome visitor five years ago who seems to have come back with new promises that she no longer believes in. The final conclusion that she makes is that through these people who are like roses and who say words that look eloquent but are actually lies and who carry thorns promising violence and pain, she understands that if one is not careful, the act of love dying will be reproduced. The love that she describes could also symbolize her mother who might have suffered a lot at the hands of her father and because of this she might have died whether psychologically or physically. Another explanation is that, perhaps, through abuse, the binding family love that was once present died and she is worried that it might happen again if she decides to commit again to the deceitful person who once hurt her.
Poem by George Elliot Clarke
by Batoule Hyjazie
These images represent the various complexity of a person and the likely hood that the person that you will meet which could be anyone person "X" could cause end up causing you a lot pain.
Since the man was "bristlin'" I thought a picture of thorns with roses was a perfect depiction of this picture of him. Despite the fact that he was bearing gifts he was still tense and unhappy. The beauty of the rose contrasts greatly with the looming danger of the thorns. Otherwise, the gift of roses contrast greatly with the tenseness of his character prophesizing danger.
The simile "brazen as brass" reminded me of a brass instrument playing obnoxiously and boldly, disturbing the entire orchestra. He came in, almost uninvited, like a loud guest who doesn't stop talking without a consideration for other people. This suggests that he is almost incapable of empathy.
The use of the symbol "X" is in itself its own poetic symbol, since it shows that this person is a stranger and usually strangers are not to be trusted. Like a complex math problem, they can be quite daunting and may end up hurting your grade, otherwise you.
The "five winters" is a more poetic way of saying five years. This already gives the sensation that this is a cold poem. The author could've used five summers but instead used a colder season to describe the passing of time which affects poetic atmosphere.
Analysis of "The Wisdom of Shelley"

This picture represents the poem as a whole. There is the picture of the woman crying, the mother, and the father holding a bottle of alcohol which represents the boldness or roughness of his personality. The overall color palette is dark and purple like a bruise, a symbol of the domestic physical, and possibly, emotional abuse. This ends up affecting the daughter's capability of forming opinions about people when she meets the stranger who busts in her door, thinking that he might lead her into a relationship similar to that of her parents.
The uninvited guest was compared to a "late blizzard" supposedly in April a time where flowers are growing. In this case, the arrival of the blizzard (the guest "X") killed all the flowers (the girl). This image represents the foreboding presence of this guest and how it is threatening to kill off spring in the same that her father hurt her mother. This is what a late blizzard can do.
The guest busted in their door which suggests that he came in such a way that he did or could've broken it. This image depicts an old door which is slightly out of its frame with the lock broken. This shows that his arrival disturbed the peace and broke down any protective walls that they could've had against this unwelcome guest.
This image represents the unwelcome stranger talking casually about nonsensical things. In the picture, the man representing the guest, has his mouth open with random letters coming out which suggests that everything that he is saying is unimportant and stupid.
This image represents the lack of trust between the girl and the stranger who is hiding behind his poems otherwise known as his mask. The poems or his words look innocent enough but underneath everything there is darkness something that can't be trusted. This shows that the guest is selfish and deceitful.
This image shows the garbage that the guest left on the table. He littered it just as someone would litter the streets. He filled the table with words that in actuality held no meaning because they were lies and were worth less than garbage as a result.
"Roses got thorns./And words do lie"
These lines essentially summarize the entire poem. The simplicity of the words help with clearly delivering the theme of the poem which is essentially that often people come to you disguised as an innocent rose when essentially they are carrying thorns. The words that were once described as poems which are essentially a group of words put in an eloquent and sensory enticing order are merely words that have meaning, only if you attribute it to them. The last line shows that words though essentially innocent have the power to lie and that essentially though a rose might seem innocent they are actually thorny. The rose just like the symbol "X" represent people. In this poem, people are depicted as having thorns or of being mean and selfish and abusive and that the words that they say can be lies just as much as they can be truths.
"I heard pa tell ma/how much and much he/loved loved loved her/and I saw his fist/fall so gracefully/against her cheek,/she swooned."
These couple lines once again focus mostly on deceit and how especially in relationships, people rarely say what they mean. This girl seems to be having a flashback of what kind of relationship her parents had and with the appearance of this person back in her life after 5 years she refuses to fall into the same trap of believing his words. She remembers how much her father claimed to love her mother very much which is proven by the number of times that it is repeated within the line. This repetition creates a lot of emphasis. There is also a little bit of irony in her tone. She describes his abuse as being so graceful, which is also ironic since she uses a nice word to describe her father's horrible actions, that her mother didn't faint or fall as what would be expected but she swooned as though his abuse was a proclamation of love, when it clearly isn't. Swooning is something that girls typically do at a boy band concert so she is almost comparing this act to what love should really be like and contrasts the two together.
Summary
In summary, the girl had lived in a family where on the surface it seemed that her parents loved each other very much when in actuality her father was abusing her mother. This is depicted by the sarcastic and ironic words that were used such as "graceful" and "swooning" to depict the violence that had occurred. The girl has an encounter with this other person who seemed to have hurt her in the past and decides to come back to ask for her forgiveness through the use of poems and roses, otherwise known as or disguised as, lies and violence. His obnoxious demeanor reminds her of her father and causes her to have a flashback of the abuse. She concludes that roses have thorns (people can commit violence) and that words can lie. This is because in the end she has seen love die or in other words has witnessed the horrible results of such a way of living.
In both of these pictures, there is an act of violence which is depicted or which is disguised as an act of love. In the picture at the bottom, there is a man who seems to be aiming to hit but holds a bouquet of roses in his hand something which represents how the actions of her father reminded her of the actions of the visitor who came bearing roses which might be a disguise for something worse.
In the top picture, there is a fist with some lipstick on it as though it was being kissed. This once again represents the irony of these couple of lines and how these acts of violence are described as being almost loving. This is a clever way of contrasting the two different situations of a loving relationship and an abusive one.
This image shows a man with his fingers crossed behind his back, usually a symbol of lying. This shows that whatever words this man is saying are a lie. This reflects that the poems that the visitor was littering across the table were not to be trusted as they were merely words and this line reveals that "words/do lie" (Clarke 16-17). She learnt from watching her parents not to trust a person who comes bearing gifts with eloquent words as they could be lying.
The line which states that roses have thorns is exemplified with this picture of a rose plant showing only its thorns. This fact was never more blatantly stated than at this point which is why the thorns are showcased in such a way. The thorns consist of the violence that a person can commit.while the words represent the lies, the thorns represent the actions. She has learned through her experience through watching her mother and father and through previously meeting this person "X" five winters ago that some people can't be trusted because they have thorns and if you trust them you might get pricked.
In this picture, there are two things that can be represented. The first is the mother who might be the meaning behind the word love. Love dying might be the act of the mother suffering as a result of the abuse. Love could also represent the family as a whole and that the family died or suffered through this abuse. Love could also symbolize the remaining scar that had been left behind as a result of the girl's past experiences.
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