Essay on Death in Poetry

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Death in Poetry


Numerous themes are found in poetry. One recurring theme that we have
encountered this year is death. It is the main focus of Stevens' "The Emperor of
Ice-Cream," Frost's "After Apple-Picking," and Whitman's "The Wound-Dresser" and
is hinted at in many other poems. This essay will discuss how the different
poets treat the subject differently in relation to various aspects of
composition, such as style, form, theme, tone, imagery, metaphor, and diction.
Whitman describes the horrible scene that he sees as a nurse on a battlefield,
including injured and dying soldiers. Frost describes life and death in a
metaphor of apple picking. The narrator of his poem has lived a sufficient life,
and now tires of
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The forms of these three poems are very different. Whitman's "The Wound-
Dresser" is completely in free verse, and is broken into four sections of
varying lengths. Some of the sections are further broken into stanzas. The first
section is about a specific encounter Whitman had with a dying man, the second
section is about how the hospital seems when he is there, the third section
describes how the wounded soldiers look, and the fourth section wraps up the
poem. Frost's "After Apple-Picking" has no distinctly different sections. It is
just a continual string of lines, but it tells a story in a logical order, with
the ending being near death. "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" is broken into two
stanzas, each with the same concluding line. The first stanza paints the
picture, and the second stanza explains what the poem is about.

Although the prevalent theme in each of these poems is death, each poet
treats it differently. Whitman discusses how he has seen death often enough to
become used to it. He is so attached to each of the patients he treats that he
claims "I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would
save you." Whitman also thinks that sometimes it can be better if someone who is
in great pain dies, because that is more merciful. Whitman views death as a
cruel reality that he must face each day. In contrast, Frost views death as
merely the next season in…