Compare the poems 'Elegy for Himself' and 'No More Pain'.

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Poetry Comparison

The poems ‘Elegy for Himself’ and ‘No More Pain’ were both written by authors awaiting execution, however the similarities of the situations and therefore the mindsets of the poets end there. Edward Moody is a contemporary poet on death row in the U.S.A. He had already been awaiting death for a number of years when he wrote ‘No More Pain’. Chidiok Tichborne, author of ‘Elegy for Himself’, on the other hand was executed within a week of his trial in the sixteenth century. Moody had had far more time to contemplate his situation, whereas Tichborne only had time to write down his initial reaction. I believe that ‘Elegy for Himself’ is a poem about the ephemeral nature of life in comparison to the eternal afterlife, whereas ‘No More Pain’ is a poem about the inherently painful nature of the lives of all those condemned to death. I will be exploring my own reasoning in this essay.

Tichborne’s poem follows a rigid structure. All three verses follow the same rhyme scheme:  the last word of the first line rhymes with the last word of the third line. Similarly the second and fourth lines rhyme. Each verse ends with a rhyming couplet. By ending with a couplet, Tichbourne echoes the ending of his life in emphasising the ending of each verse. These couplets resolve each verse, and by always ending by directly saying ‘now I live, and now my life is done’ Tichbourne not only maintains the context of the poem and reminds the reader of his own situation, but also give the poem a haunting quality through the repetition. Through using such a rigid structure, Tichbourne is able to express potent, chaotic emotions in an orderly manner. This also has the effect of giving the poem a sense of constraint, as though it has been forced out of the author as was the author’s life.

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In each line of the first two verses of the poem, the first half is a metaphor for a positive aspect of life such as ‘my feast of joy’. The second half of each line is a contrasting metaphor such as ‘dish of pain’. These halves are always linked by the word ‘is’, which shows us that Tichbourne believes that the high point of his life, his ‘prime’  has come, and yet he has gained and achieved nothing. Each line of these first two verses expresses this same sentiment, and with each metaphor used his point is emphasised and ...

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