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“Brill Fragile Fantasy” a Poem by Hirsch Edward Critical Essay

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Updated: Aug 12th, 2019

Introduction

In poetry analysis, one is required to investigate and speculate on the content, form as well as history of a written poem. This also applies to other forms of literary analysis such as short story and play analysis. In the process of analysing such a text, an individual appreciates the piece of work by highlighting what the poem is all about (Kennedy 41).

Poetry can therefore be approached by different people from different perspectives including teachers as well as writers in an attempt to analyse the art. In the case of a teacher, analysis is done to capture the broad concept of the poem as well as the underlying themes. In this form of analysis, the teacher also seeks to understand the unfolding events in the poem for the benefit of the students.

In other words, the teacher is trying to look at the plot in the poem. On the other hand, a writer has to learn about the various aspects of the piece of poetry so as to inform the other critics on what was used to write the poem and discern all the forms of poetry. At the end of the day, the writer will have to appreciate either negatively or positively a number of poetic elements in the piece of work analysed (Harrison 17).

The author of this paper is going to analyse the poem titled “Brill Fragile Fantasy”. The poem was written by Hirsch Edward and it talks about how Brill regards himself as a successful human being in all circumstances. However, a critical analysis of the poem will reveal that this is not exactly the case.

From the poem, it is clear that in an awkward position and the only thing that the reader can do is to pity him. The author of this paper will make reference to specific sections of the poem by quoting them directly.

The Poem

One can start analysing the poem by referring to the opening made by the author. Hirsch opens the poem using the provocative statement “Fragile Fantasy”. This statement also serves as the heading or title of the poem. In the heading the writer gives the name of the character that which is represented as one based on fantasy from the beginning.

As one continues to read the poem past this provocative heading, it becomes apparent that the character is truly living in a fantasy world. It is to be noted that a character in this case is the person who takes the figurative and significant part in the poem (Roberts & Jacobs 47).

In most cases the character is always a figment of the author’s imagination. For example in most of the great poems ever written, the characters are always imagined. For instance, “Annabel Lee” is an imaginary character in the poem written by the famous Edgar Poe. This is just an example of such poems in the literary world today.

A Pitiful Brill

In Fragile Fantasy, Hirsch introduces the reader to a character who is making efforts to convince the audience that he is knowledgeable and professionally oriented. This is all part of Brill’s imagination. Brill is addressing an audience sitting on a bench. It appears that Brill is aware of the fact that the audience may realise that he is just imagining things.

This is the reason why he tells the audience not to laugh or disregard him and whatever he is saying on the bench. He talks of how his close friends had dismissed him and walked away from his life.

Hirsch skilfully creates the character of Brill for the reader using figurative and other forms of writing styles. He skilfully depicts Brill as a character who is consciously or unconsciously trying to make the audience sympathise with him.

The Writing Style Adopted

It is to be noted that the writer makes use of writing criteria that they believe better suits their target audience. For instance in this poem, the writer uses a third person’s point of view to present the information to the audience.

In this form of writing, the writer allows the reader to share in the feelings of a particular character (Auden & Holmes 47). In a critical analysis of the poem Fantasy Brill, the character succeeds in arousing a lot of sympathy from the people around him.

Another concept that is evidence on the part of the writer is the use of dramatic irony. In this case, Hirsch tries to convince the reader that Brill’s ideas are true and factual. He is ironically trying to convince the audience that Brill is indeed a brilliant person.

However, the author goes ahead and convinces the reader that Brill’s appearance does not reflect the intended personality especially for a man his age. In this case, the actions and words of the main character postulate a dramatic irony (Harrison 39). The character makes use of words that makes the audiences sitting around make fun of him or question his statements (Auden & Holmes 49).

The Character Brill

Brill is in a pitiful situation and Hirsch gives him a name that best suits his character. This is given the fact that he tries to display himself as a great and successful man but in real sense he is trying to escape from the disgusting truth. Symbolic words are used to describe the nature and character of Brill in the poem. For example the word Brill in the English dictionary means a type of fish that is flat.

The author of this poem has however used the word to make Brill think that he is actually brilliant. This is given the uncanny relationship between the words brilliant and Brill. Hirsch shows that Brill is not brilliant in actual sense. This kind of writing as used by the writer in this poem is what Cummings (23) refers to as symbolic writing. In this case he makes use of symbols to represent something ironic.

Another technique used by Hirsch in this poem is metaphor. This is whereby the writer makes use of relationships and linkages beyond human reality. For example, Bill says that he will shine like a star. In other words, he is trying to compare his envisaged success with the brightness of the star. He is implying that his future is glowing, not unlike the twinkle of a distant star in a night sky.

Brill regards himself as a young man in this poem. He is denying the fact that he is not old. Brill is running away from the truth, the truth that he does not want to accept. The poem is told from his point of view. The reader has not met Brill physically and as such, they have no idea what he looks like. However, Hirsch gives the reader the chance to interact with Brill in the poem.

As the reader critically analyses the poem, some clues given by the writer will help them have an imaginary Brill. In this case, the analysis will help the reader to find the voice of the poem itself. The background against which this poem is written is very important. It will help the reader in deciphering what kind of person the poem is talking about.

In the poem there is a gentleman who blows a puff of smoke on Brill’s direction on the bench. This is an indication of the fact that Brill is considered helpless by the other people around him. He can do nothing except dream in broad daylight. The author makes use of the smoking man to show the audience how pitiful Brill is. As the man blows a puff of smoke towards Brill, the reader cannot help but sympathise with him.

This style of writing enables the reader to discern the strength of the character in relation to other characters in the poem. It is expected that if a person violates the rights of another person in the society, the offended party will react. The reaction can take the form of a retaliatory move whether legal or not. But in this case, Brill just sits back and continues talking of how a great young man he is.

Tools for Poetic Analysis

Form

For a poem to be effectively analysed, the reader has to classify it under the various categories available. This is for example open or closed poetic structures (Roberts & Jacobs 63). Although there are other forms of classification that exists, the open and closed dichotomy is widely used.

A sonnet is a form of poem which is complex not only in its composition but also difficult to study. Common poems exhibit simple structures that can be analysed with ease. In the case of closed poetic structure, the poem follows a specific pattern during composition.

The verses in closed poems do not follow any rhyming pattern. If they do, it is just to a small extent where the idea is to create consistency in a poem (Kennedy 53). In the Brill story, Hirsch gives the reader a classic example of a closed poem. There is no consistency as far as the rhyming words are concerned (Hirsch 33). The structure of this piece implies an open poem where the writer does not need to adhere to the rules of rhyming.

Imagery and Symbolism

There are several levels through which the poem can be presented to the reader. One of the ways through which such a presentation can be achieved is through imagery and symbolism. In this case, the reader has to make sure that they understand the title of the poem and the background against which the story is being told (Cummings 28).

In the case of Hirsch’s poem, the title is symbolic as it presumes a brilliant character. This is despite the fact that in real life the character is anything but brilliant. Imagery is also seen when the writer uses the smoking character to test and illustrate the strength of the character in the poem.

Meter and Rhyme

Poems are best analysed when written in English language. This helps the analyst to make use of stressing aspects of the poem as opposed to the numbers available in a verse. The use of rhyming patterns makes words easier to understand and most important, the reader appreciates the written poem.

In the poem Fragile Fantasy, rhyming is not significantly used in the entire piece. However, the few instances of rhyming give the poem a realistic touch (Hirsch 33). This is very important for the audience.

Sound, Tone and Connotation

Finally, sound and connotation are very important aspects of the poem when it comes to critical analysis of the same. It helps in appreciating the poem. In this case, the words used carry different meanings and feelings.

They display the character in the poem and contrast their disposition with the reality (Hirsch 38). In the verse below (an excerpt from Brill’s poem), the use of connotation is very much evident. This is for example the use of the words like bold and world. The excerpt appears below:

Brill is my Name, I am not bill

I am bold

I have come to this far

To conquer the world

I am not old

Don’t tell that I am old

I can hold

(Hirsch 34)

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is noted that it is important to analyse a given piece of text carefully with special focus on the themes and structure of the piece. Analysis attempts to gives the writer an idea as to why the writer composed a particular text and what they meant by the use of various words and structural applications. In all cases, analysis of texts is important to all of those who come into contact with that particular text.

Works Cited

Auden, William, and N. Holmes. Restoration and Augustan Poets: Milton to Goldsmith, New York: Viking Press, 2007. Print.

Cummings, Eric. Complete Poems: 1913–1962, New York: Harcouth Brace Jovanovich, 2010. Print.

Harrison, Gregory. Shakespeare: The Complete Works, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2010. Print.

Hirsch, Edward. How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, London: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Kennedy, Joseph. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Drama, and Poetry, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2006. Print.

Roberts, Edgar, and H. Jacobs. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Upper Saddle Creek, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

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