Analyzing poetry is a rather complicated task due to the number of reasons. Firstly, it is necessary to define the topic and main ideas of this or that piece of poetry without mistakes. Secondly, there is a need to interpret the words and symbols hidden in the poem. And thirdly, the attitude and emotional coloring of the speaker’s delivery of the poem should be identified. Combination of these steps carried out properly will ensure the good analysis of a poem. This paper will focus on the analysis of the poem “I” by Aaron Shurin and the Sonnet I by William Shakespeare.
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To start with, it is necessary to examine the sonnet by the famous English author. William Shakespeare, as the poet from the 16th century, was concerned about the hardships of life, and about the cruelty of the world. The major point of his sonnet is the self-destruction that a person, i. e. the speaker, is doing to himself. It is conditioned by the severe environment that he has to face in the world but the major guilt for this lies on his shoulders:
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content. (Shakespeare, 8 – 11).
From these lines it is clear that the speaker is concerned about someone else because the poem is told from the second person singular. The words “cruel” and “buriest” show the pessimistic and sad state of mind of the speaker who is really stressed by such conditions of living in this inhuman world. Shakespeare reflects the cruelty of the whole world through the specific example of one person.
As contrasted to the sonnet, the lyric I by Aaron Shurin is a more modern piece of poetry because it makes use of such words as “energy”, “receptors” and some other. However, the topic of the poem remains almost the same as in the sonnet – the cruelty of this world and necessity to gather all one’s powers to resists it. In this aspect, the poem by Shurin is much more optimistic because it not only states the facts but also encourages people to fight against cruelty. The speaker claims the necessity of being strong and attentive to all the tricks the world might play on him:
If the judgement’s cruel
that’s a wake-up call: increase
energy, attention. (Shurin, 1 – 3).
These lines demonstrate the optimist of the speaker in his resistance to the world’s cruelty and hardships of life. Nevertheless, numerous similarities in the usage of lexical units can be found between this poem and sonnet by Shakespeare. Such words as “cruel” demonstrating the negative sides of the world, and units like “resist”, “increase”, “spring” and others reflect the optimistic hope of the speaker for the better future for him and all people on the whole.
Thus, it can be seen how the cruelty of the world and people’s attitude towards it have not changed over centuries that passed between writing the sonnet and the poem. Shakespeare’s sonnet and Shurin’s lyric bith demonstrate the reality in which authors, and speakers of their poem, lived. The world is still cruel to its “inhabitants” and only the strongest people, those are “steady” (Shurin, 12), can resist this cruelty and continue living in this world.
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet I.
Shurin, Aaron. Involuntary Lyrics.