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Critical Appreciation of 'The City of Orange Trees' 'The City of Orange Trees' by Dick Davis is a detached commentary on human civilization's

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Introduction

Critical Appreciation of 'The City of Orange Trees' 'The City of Orange Trees' by Dick Davis is a detached commentary on human civilization's decadence. A medieval Persian scholar who expressed a commitment to the ideal of civilized life, Davis has written this poem, I think, to demonstrate the inevitability of society's destruction because of mankind's addiction with materialism. Beginning the poem with an aphorism which declares that a city is about to self-destruct, Davis condemns lives which have become materialistic, demonstrates how complacence is the seed for their destruction, and later on introduces an intellectual, a diplomat, who read the aphorism, and on whom the fate of this city now hinges. With degeneration of human creativity as one of his main themes, Davis uses a particular city, the City of Orange Trees, as his setting. His symbolic diction goes a long way in emphasizing the ostentatious lifestyles of its inhabitants, with the titular 'orange' first of all referring to gold, or success, since oranges are valuable gifts in many cultures. ...read more.

Middle

Tamburlaine obviously wants to capture this city and loot its corpus of aesthetics. The people, however, seem oblivious to their fate. One of Davis' key ideas is that such indifferent attitudes have been cultivated through generations. Hence, his use of 'the child', followed by 'children's children', and 'three generations', all refer to the deterioration that has been taking place through generations. What I find particularly striking is that Davis doesn't use the common word 'grandchildren', opting instead for 'children's children', which not only stands out because of the repetition, but also makes clear the inter-generational link. The point Davis is getting to is probably that three generations have been inculcated to believe in 'aesthetics' and 'luxuries', and thus the 'zeal for conquest, prayer', has decayed. I think 'prayer', the apposition for 'zeal of conquest', means a yearning for purity and inner salvation, something that children have actually come to deride as senseless, because in the next line Davis writes that 'the child / mocks pieties he cannot feel'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Indeed, the apathetic, emotionally-uninvolved tone that notes a sword falling and a city burning suggests that these are just a part of a sequence of things that have been predestined. A last note on the intellectual - he is portrayed as a person with refined taste, because silk rustles as he moves. 'Rustled' is somewhat mimetic, and creates an audible image of the man rising and turning. The meter, normally a rigorous iambic tetrameter, seems to impart a sense of dignity and refinement to this character. However, in 'turning', it changes to a trochee, and thus simulates an actual change in the man's position. Now he isn't just a collector of information - he is an activist, who must 'parley now for peace' with Tamburlaine. Davis doesn't reveal the outcome of this negotiation, and instead chooses to end the poem on a note of suspense, and more so dread, because Tamburlaine is given the epithet of 'world conqueror', which is unambiguous in its meaning that even the City of Orange Trees is part of the world, and hence it will be conquered. ...read more.

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