Analysis Essay on Poetry: Woodchucks by Maxine Kumin and Aunt Jennifers Tigers by Adrienne Rich

Published: 2021-07-02
1274 words
5 pages
11 min to read
Vanderbilt University
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Poetry has, for a long time, been utilized to depict the society. they, similar to other artistic writings, are a mirror to society. To this effect, various poems make use of various poetic devices and figures of speech to present their message, whereby, in most of the time, there needs to be a thorough analysis of a poems elements in order to get at the poems deeper truth. The poems, woodchucks by Maxine Kumin and Aunt Jennifers tigers by Adrienne Rich depict the Jewish plight in the second world war and the plight of women in a male-dominated society respectively. the paper will evaluate how the authors of these two poems effectively make use of various poetic devices in delivering their message.

Woodchucks by Maxine Kumin

The poem by Kumin is a story of a woman who is desperately trying to keep rodents, the woodchucks, from eating her devouring her crops and potentially denying food from her and her family. From the further reading of the poem, this seems to be the message of the narrator, however, with further readings and analysis of the poem, it becomes apparent that the poem is about human nature and how easily human nature can be swayed to violence and evil. The author portrays this message through her use of tone, metaphor, and word choice.

The tone of the poem changes from the beginning of the poem right through to the end. in the beginning of the poem, the narrators tone is aggravated by the fact that the narrator is constantly trying to deal with the menace of the woodchucks. However, the tone is not too serious as the narrator can be seen observing hey these darn woodchucks are bothering me, darn it! However, as the poem progresses, the narrators tone turns more morbid with the gradual loss of the narrators humanity and mind due to the woodchucks. By the third stanza, the woodchucks have become persistent and it is at this point that the gardeners instinct to kill surface, puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing.

At this point the tone has shifted to be more aggressive as the gardener is more willing and excited, in a negative way, to kill. The gardener goes into details on how he/she kills the woodchucks even noting how the mother flipflopped in the air and fell her needle teeth still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard. The tone further progresses to be more morbid in that as the poem conclude, the narrator has fully embarrassed his/her murderous side noting that the murderer inside me rose up hard, the Hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith. The final line in the poem presents the final serious and disturbing tone whereby the narrator alludes to the holocaust claiming that if only theyd all consented to die unseen gassed underground the quiet the Nazi way.

The poem is heavy with the use of metaphors. In fact, the entire poem can be observed to be a metaphor for the world war II as it is evident from the last lines of the poem. From the last line, gassed underground the quiet Nazi way is a clear allusion to the gassing chambers of the Nazis. Furthermore, all the elements in the garden are representative of members of the Nazi- Jew society during the world war II. The woodchucks are obviously the Jews that were gassed as the Nazis deemed them undesirable despite their perceived minor transgression. The gardener, on the other hand, represents the Nazis who were constantly coming up with new and efficient ways to mass exterminate the Jews. Similar to the gardener who is mentioned to once be a pacifist, I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace, the Nazis eventually reached a point where the no longer viewed the Jews as human but rather as vermin that needed to be exterminated.

From the word choice in the poem, it is clear that the speaker shifts from impersonal to personal and also from sensitive to insensitive. From the poem, the change in the use of pronouns, for instance in the first and second stanzas where the narrator uses we shows the speaker to be impersonal. However, the pronouns change to the use of I in the subsequent stanzas to depict a more personal demeanor.

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich

The poem, Aunt Jennifers Tigers is about Aunt Jennifer, a woman oppressed by a male dominated society, who seeks comfort from this dismal reality through an alternate fantasy world filled with sewing and embroidery despite the reality of her unhappy marriage. Thus, the poem progresses the theme of women and oppression. The poem presents the life of a woman who is limited by a male dominated society. Although the poem does not provide solid evidence to support this oppression, it does suggest that the prospects of Jennifers life have been limited due to her gender and also by her marriage which at times takes a toll in her life, the massive weight of uncles wedding band, sits heavily upon Jennifers hand.

Subsequently, the poem is rich with various figures of speech. For instance, in the first stanza, the embroidery of the tigers that have been created by Jennifer symbolizes the character traits that she wants in her life; to be assertive, fearless, powerful and noble as they are depicted to pace in sleek chivalric certainty. Certainty in this regarded symbolizes the confidence of the tiger. Furthermore, the tigers are depicted to prance across a screen which further shows the self-assuredness, confidence, and happiness of the tiger, characteristics not present in Jennifers life. the tigers thus symbolize the vitality and power that Jennifers wishes she had so as to take charge of her life and make it better.

The second stanza depicts the image of a working Jennifer. The lines finger fluttering through her wool, find even the ivory needle g=hard to pull represent the graceful movements of her hands as she works thus presenting the image of a highly skilled craftswoman. However, the fluttering of her fingers also presents the image of an agitated Jennifer that could be as a result of the constraints in her life such as the massive weight of uncles wedding band. As such, the fluttering fingers also symbolize Jennifers mental and physical weakness that prevent her from realizing her aspirations in life. the second stanza shows the image of the responsibilities in the marriage that further prevent Jennifer from realizing her full potential as a woman in a patriarchal society, "The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band / Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand."

In the final stanza of the poem, there is imagery that further reiterates the struggles of Jennifer in her life. The reference to her hands, her terrified hands will lie Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by, symbolize her life. in her death, the challenges of her life would still be evident from her hands as the wedding band would still represent the sufferings that prevented her from attaining her full potential.

In conclusion, both poems are stunningly written with both utilizing various poetic devices to convey their messages. At fist glance, the poems may seem to be mere artistic writings however on further analysis, both poems provide dark and significant truths. Woodchucks by Maxine Kumin depicts the atrocities that befell the Jews in the hands of the Nazis during the second world war while Aunt Jennifers Tigers shows the plight of women in the present-day society. it is only through the appropriate analysis of the use of imagery, symbolism, and other figures of speech in these poems that their true themes present themselves.

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