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"A profoundly poignant evocation of love and loss" to what extent do you agree with this assessment of Douglas Dunn's elegies.

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Introduction

"A profoundly poignant evocation of love and loss" to what extent do you agree with this assessment of Douglas Dunn's elegies. Following the death of his wife from cancer, Douglas Dunn chronicled his resulting feelings and emotions in a series of poems entitled 'Elegies'. Essentially this collection reflects on a period of introspection as Dunn comes to terms with her absence. Through the poet's depth and range of emotion feelings of love and loss, ideas that are intrinsically linked, are expressed. Even prior to the death of Dunn's wife there is a profound sense of sadness, primarily due to the inescapability of what is to happen. In 'Thirteen Steps and the Thirteenth of March', which revolves around the days preceding his wife's death, the poet talks of 'my' rather than 'our' "high house." Dunn's sense of general acceptance only goes to highlight his vulnerability and thus heightens the poignancy of the situation. Consequently this sense of hopelessness sets a tone for the remaining poems, which are often rooted in the past tense. ...read more.

Middle

In Dunn's poetry the most poignant and heart rending moments occur when sentiments of both love and loss are brought together in microcosmic situations. For instance in the 'Thirteen Steps and the Thirteenth of March' Dunn's wife's fingers have "dwindled" so much so that she can no longer wear her wedding ring. In this particular example there are elements of both love and loss, which intensify the feelings of sadness. Essentially the wedding ring is a union of the bond between them representing their love for each other. The fact that Dunn's wife can no longer wear the ring ultimately symbolise the ending of the union between the couple and the loss that results from this. Despite the sadness evoked by Dunn's poems they are often written in a sense of celebration for the life he has shared with his wife, we learn of the uplifting effect she has on him even in death, "I feel her goodness breathe, my Lady Christ." ...read more.

Conclusion

Consequently his guilt is expressed by what appears to the reader to be quite banal occurrences but to Dunn they are memories to linger on and think what would have happened if he had done something differently. In 'Empty Wardrobes' he regrets not buying his wife a dress, ultimately it is the fact that he will never be able be with her and make her happy rather than the fact he did not buy the dress on that occasion that upsets him the most. Over the course of the 'Elegies' the reader is given the impression that Dunn has matured from a man who was once rooted in the past to a man who is willing to look forward. In the last poem, 'Leaving Dundee' the opening of a "small blue window in the sky" and the leaving behind of "thunder" suggest that for Dunn there is light at the end of the tunnel. By returning to things that he shared with his wife "familiar things of love, that love me", he knows that his wife will always be with him and he can now begin to overcome her loss. ...read more.

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