"The Pardon by Richard Wilbur, A critical Reading" Essay

702 Words 3 Pages
The Pardon

My dog lay dead five days without a grave
In the thick of summer, hid in a clump of pine
And a jungle of grass and honeysuckle vine.
I who had loved him while he kept alive
Went only close enough to where he was
To sniff the heavy honeysuckle-smell
Twined with another odour heavier still
And hear the flies' intolerable buzz.
Well, I was ten and very much afraid.
In my kind world the dead were out of range
And I could not forget the sad or strange
In beast or man. My father took the spade
And buried him. Last night I saw the grass
Slowly devide (it was the same scene
But now it glowed a fierce and mortal green)
And saw the dog emerging. I confess
I felt afraid again, but still he came
In the carnal sun,
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Wilbur has been placed within the New Formalist movement and the poem itself is written in a very formal structure: four line stanzas rhymed ABBA. Some of the rhymes are full and some are slightly off, e.g. (smell : still), (grave : alive). This has the effect of making the poem sound more natural, the rhyme unforced and surprising, which better holds the readers attention than strict rhyme. The metrics of the poem are loosely iambic pentameter but the poet does vary the iambs on occasion for the effect of mirroring the more natural intonations of human speech.

The poem's narrative is told from the point of view of a child, as remembered by an adult, although this fact is not introduced into the poem until line nine. For the first two stanzas we are left in doubt as to when the incident took place, and the poet's age at the time it happened. This stops the poem tugging at the heart-strings too early and allows the introduction of the poet's age to be handled in the more matter of fact style set up by the first two stanzas.

The imagery used throughout the poem is heavily sensual, we start with an intimation that the dog has lain dead for five days in the heat, the word `thick' being used to describe the summer heat and to hint at the smell which permeates the air later. The sound of flies is also used to give a sense of foreboding and oppression, he later returns to
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