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“Funeral Blues” and “Richard Cory” Essay

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Updated: May 4th, 2020

This paper is focused on the comparative analysis of two poems – “Funeral Blues” by Auden and “Richard Cory” by Robinson. These poems carry deep meanings, for the first one it is the description of how strong emotional attachment between close people can be, and for the second one it is the fact that humans tend to paint perfect pictures in their imagination and then believe they are real.

Both of the poems carry messages, “Funeral Blues” informs about the feelings of an apathetic and depressed mourner suffering from a recent loss, and “Richard Cory” emphasizes that things are not always what they seem, both poems communicate disappointment with the ways life can be.

Comparing the tones of the poems one may see that “Funeral Blues” is tragically passionate about rejecting everything around, abandoning hope for the best, whereas “Richard Cory” begins with a rather optimistic and full of faith in good tone. The difference between these two works is that “Funeral Blues” sticks to the same tone through all the four stanzas, while “Richard Cory” has a rapid shift in the last quatrain, from utter admiration it switches to bitter disappointment with the hint of indignation.

The choice of words in both works is rather modern, but “Funeral Blues” clearly has more contemporary diction using such words as “telephone”, “traffic”, and “aeroplanes”. “Richard Cory” contains some old-fashioned expressions such as “He was a gentleman from sole to crown” (3), and “And admirably schooled in every grace” (10).

“Richard Cory” is based mainly on denotations since it is a narrative poem. It includes only a few lines containing connotations. For example, “he glittered when he walked” (7-8). In “Funeral Blues” connotative meaning gradually escalates towards the end of the poem. The author first wants to quiet down all the sounds saying, “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,/ Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone” (1-2), and then starts demanding impossible things, “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,/ Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood” (14-15).

“Richard Cory” is focused on the description of a character who seems perfect to the observers. At the same time, “Funeral Blues” employs a number of images to paint a picture of an extreme sadness of a person who lost someone and now feels like the whole world is in vain.

Both of the poems contain the same figures of speech – anaphora, hyperbole and metaphor. In “Richard Cory” anaphora may be found in the following lines: “And he was always quietly arrayed,/ And he was always human when he talked” (5-6). Cases of hyperbole are “richer than a king”, “he was everything”. Metaphors are “fluttered pulses when he said”, “glittered when he walked” and “went without the meat, and cursed the bread”.

In “Funeral Blues” anaphora is “He was my North, my South, my East and West…” (9). Cases of hyperbole are “love would last forever”, “nothing now can ever come to any good”. Metaphors are “aeroplanes circle moaning overhead”, “dismantle the sun”, “pour away the ocean”.

Even though neither of the poems contains any sound devices, the overall sound of the poems is a part of the messages they carry. “Funeral Blues” is a monologue of a mourner, and it has the appropriate character, its lines are stressed towards the end. At the same time, “Richard Cory” is deceitfully cheerful and the beginnings of the lines are more stressed.

Rhythm is slightly broken in “Funeral Blues”, in almost every quatrain there is one line that happens to be longer than others, which makes it harder to determine the meter of the poem.

At the same time, this kind of rhythm makes some of the lines sound lengthier as if the speaker’s mourning makes them carried away sometimes. The rhythm of “Richard Cory” is well built and balanced; it reflects the image of the described character and its seeming flawlessness. Both authors employed iambic hexameter in their works. Yet, the poems are a good demonstration that the same rhythm may sound absolutely differently in works of various authors.

The rhyme of “Funeral Blues” follows the scheme AABB, whereas “Richard Cory” has a classic interlocking rhyme (ABAB). Both of the poems include four quatrains and contain repetitions, but “Funeral Blues” is much more repetitive. “Richard Cory” is a narrative poem, and “Funeral Blues” is a lyrical ballad.

In conclusion, the messages of both poems are hidden. Symbolic meanings lead the reader towards understanding. In “Funeral Blues” the rejection and the desire for the whole world to mourn delivers the message that when someone’s life ends literally, it may end lives figuratively for the close ones of the dead person.

In “Richard Cory” the unexpected ending sounds both as a judgment and a shock. Richard’s suicide may be seen as a waste, since the man had everything others wanted. At the same time, the ending is tragic, because obviously the man who seemed perfect and “glittered when he walked” was actually very sad and unhappy inside.

Works Cited

Auden, Wystan Hugh. . 2015. Web.

Robinson, Edwin Arlington. . 2015. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Funeral Blues” and “Richard Cory." May 4, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/funeral-blues-and-richard-cory/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '“Funeral Blues” and “Richard Cory”'. 4 May.

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