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Household Gods - Philip Hobsbaum - Commentary

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Introduction

Household Gods Philip Hobsbaum, The Pattern of Poetry (1962) Objective and subjective elements affect our daily motives and actions. Faith, a major concern, both subjective and objective, gives us the motivation to do right and live right. The poem 'Household Gods' explores the vulnerability of faith used in poetry in levels of its objectivity and subjectivity. Through the perspective of an objective God, the poem perceives faith as an element, a component in our daily lives. Faith is portrayed as a God idolizing our desires and needs. On a daily basis, one may notice commoners praying towards idols of 'Gods' for a better lifestyle, a better household or the fulfillment of a longing desire. This faith and trust represents subjective elements, whereas the idol represents God as an objective element. Hence, the faith turns into a value, a value that is brought 'home' along with our various problems and issues. The poem "Household Gods" represents this ideology through the eyes of an idol. Written in the form of a Heroic quatrain, the poem addresses the profound issue of faith in God. With its basic four line stanzas the poet manages to use grand and elevated style of writing to portray the literal remorse tonality of the narrator, the idol God. ...read more.

Middle

Feminine rhyme is used as the final syllable of the rhyme contains an unstressed syllable such as in 'street/feet' and in 'ceiling/peeling'. As the final syllable is unstressed, the rhyme tends to produce a 'falling away' effect adding to the remorseful tone, as mentioned before. The rhyme affects the rhythm of the verse and this falling away effect is used the rhythm tends to have a sluggish flow. The rounded neatness in the rhyme scheme too adds to convey a sense of finality and atonement. The contention of this poem is to remind us of the central fact of our human existence, which is faith and belief. The poem intends to indicate our ignorant selves. In moments of intensity or crisis we are each of us along, separate and isolated, in our personal catastrophe, as demonstrated by the couple who have left each other and their faith due to their fated circumstances. Whether this is because we are basically indifferent and uncaring, or whether it is because such moments cannot possibly be shared anyway, is, perhaps, left open. The fact that the poem is written from the point of view of an idol, a god that was once worshipped and respected, provides a third account of the nature of human beings. ...read more.

Conclusion

At times the poet seems to be relating the two forms of life together, with the implication that all life comes to such a fate. Or perhaps he is merely concerned with pointing out two different forms of existence. The nature of existence in the god is not 'condemned', in spite of its lonely disillusions. The detached phrasing manner of the poet's presentation prevents the treatment from becoming completely sad or gloomy. In fact the poet pays tribute to the continuity and harmony of both their existence. This may be the key to the comparison with human life, and that of the gods, which struggles after illusions of progress and change and therefore loses the harmonious continuity of faith. Through such a piece of literature, one might need to confirm whether we are aware of our faith, or are they just bypasses to only mirror our actions. Self-indulged, we humans tend to forget the elements we believe in and put our faith upon? These are values that play an important role in our lives, yet are we are of it? The objectivity and the personification of the poem "Household Gods" bring about the sense of value and trust that we must all endure. ?? ?? ?? ?? 11th May 2009 ...read more.

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