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Compare the ways in which Plath uses imagery and description in Mirror and Blackberrying, and Heaney in Churning Day and Blackberry-Picking

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Introduction

Compare the ways in which Plath uses imagery and description in Mirror and Blackberrying, and Heaney in Churning Day and Blackberry-Picking. Some of the most distinguished poetry to come out of this century has come from the works of Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath. In this essay I shall compare these two poets by studying two poems written by each of them and analysing the different ways upon which they use imagery. The two poems by Plath I shall study are Mirror and Blackberrying and the two by Heaney are entitled Blackberry-Picking and Churning Day. All four of these poems contain strong and powerful uses of imagery by both poets and this is why they have been chosen for this essay. Mirror is a very riddled poem full of double meanings in the imagery description. She begins by introducing the mirror, but not as an object but a being with its own feelings and mind. "I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions." She then goes on to emphasise this image in line three when she mixes the pronouns, now talking about the mirror as the objective "Just as it is unmisted by love or dislike." but then in the next line returning to the first person perspective. This muddling of the pronouns injects the concept that she is the mirror or at least she says, "it is part of my heart". . The third line also introduces the first double meaning to the poem, for where a mirror can be misted over by condensation and thus distorting the image, this cannot be done so by feelings. ...read more.

Middle

However, she goes onto talk of the sea as an awe inspiring site "nothing, nothing but a great space of white and pewter lights". This is another powerful image but one which could also be associated with that of heaven and maybe it is Plath's adoration for the afterlife which drives this wonder for the sea. Even though she enjoys these images she still ends the poem talking of the sounds of the waves and her dislike to them "A din like silversmiths beating and beating at an intractable metal". She uses the adjective "din" for this description which like "cacophonous" is an ugly way of describing sound. The last word of this poem, although used here as a simile, is till a contrast to everything else in the poem for it is man made, and perhaps more interesting is the fact that it is used to describe one of only two dislikes in the whole poem. I believe the basis of this poem is Plath's need for peace. I believe this because everything harmonious and passive in the poem is described in a loving way whereas the squawking of the birds and the crashing of the sea are described very much to her dislike. Looking from an alternative perspective I believe the alley is supposed to represent Plath's journey through life. This starts with the mass of blackberries ripe and perfect as a child. Next above in the sky fly "choughs in black cacophonous flocks" this could represent those people who have disrupted her life. ...read more.

Conclusion

To add to these images it is necessary to include word uses such an onomatopoeia, which he does well "set up rhythms that slugged and thumped for hours". These two highlighted words express onomatopoeia as they put forward a sound and feel to the poem in a single expression. Another good word use for imagery is that of anthropomorphism, which he uses when talking of the "Cheeks and clothes splattered with flabby milk". This word "flabby" works as "pluming" did in the first verse for they are both words used, normally to describe animals or people and not inanimate objects. By introducing this use of words he allows the poem to have life without really talking of any human activity. The final word use, which I have already described in the previous poem, is personification. This is used at the start of the third verse "When finally gold flecks begin to dance". This metaphor gives the butter life for although the butter does not "dance" it does act like it in the image given. The strongest image in this third verse comes across in the metaphor "coagulated sunlight". This gives the image that the butter has its own special glow and this shows how much Heaney loves it. The poem is drawn to an end in the thirty-second line, when Heaney talks of "brains turned crystal full of clean deal churns". Although this is supposed to be an effect of the butter it is also a metaphor for saying that this memory formed an image in his mind, which shall be with him forever. In conclusion I see this poem to have much the same fundamental ideas as the previous one. ...read more.

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