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`Many poems about lands present ideas of beauty'
The poems `Himalayan Balsam' and `Going Going' present the idea of beauty in many
different ways. Himalayan Balsam for example uses opposition to create a conflicting
sense of beauty, first seemingly innocent, yet having an essence of something
darker. `Like a girl's breath through lipstick' using the childish connotation of `girl'
juxtaposed with the `loose-jointed' description of the flower succeeds in forming an
image of youth, however lipstick is thought of as a much more mature enhancer of
beauty, used to cover flaws or accentuate the lips, which has a subtle sexual
undertone in contrast to the implied purity of a `girl'. The use of negative and sinister
imagery is used heavily in Going Going, with language such as `bleak' `filth' and `slum'
creating an overly gloomy tone. This is in great contrast to the tone created by the
somewhat jaunty rhythm. One would expect such a rhythm to succeed in
accentuating the rhyme scheme, in this case a simple ABC rhyme, yet in fact, coupled
with the enjambment used, it does the opposite. While it is obvious when simply
looking at the end words of each line, when reading the poem the rhyme is much
more hidden, almost an echo instead of the explicit, exposed rhyme one would
expect. This could be seen as mirror of the main theme of the poem, the loss of
nature, and the echo of memory it will soon become, with the beauty of nature
`lingering on'. The poets believed loss of nature is portrayed explicitly in the line
`before I snuff it, the whole boiling will be bricked in', the crude, casual use of `snuff'
presenting a sense of hopelessness, and reminding the reader of the inevitability of
death, perhaps running parallel to the seemingly suggested destined destruction of
Inevitability is a theme running throughout both poems, especially the
unavoidability of death. Death is mentioned numerous times in Himalayan Balsam,
describing the `bird death' `kitten death' `squirrel death' and the `beach hatched
embryo'. These deaths however are much more shocking than the death of an old
man (connoted in the first line `I thought it would last my time') in Going Going, as
they show the deaths of young, small, defenceless creatures. However, hope is
created by the line `More that love knows death' with love usually being seen as a
beautiful, positive emotion, perhaps connoting that there is beauty in death, as one
can only truly love something if there is a chance of losing it. Love is a subject
touched on many times throughout the poem, first explicitly in stanza five, where
the structure and use of alliteration succeeds in accentuating the last two lines.
`Sometimes' `shaping' `scraping' `stood' and `transfixed' all have a very easy, soft `S'
sound, mirroring the soft, dream like state of the first person narrator describing
normal, domestic tasks While in the last two lines the harsher, more forced `W'
sound in `were' `whiff' and `wanting' portray the emotionally charged, almost
desperate tone. It could also reflect the identical `W' sounds starting the questioning
words `where' `when' `why', perhaps connoting a sense of questioning when it
comes to `love, dear love'.
Both poems have elements suggesting beauty, with the archaic image of the
`fields and farms' in Going Going, and the `Orchid lipped ... purplish ... flowers' of the
Himalayan Balsam, yet in my opinion, it appears to be the loss or absence of beauty
that forms the most profound images for the reader. Seen more explicitly so in
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Going Going as the narrator bitterly rants about modernisation, claiming `that will be
England gone' taken over by the `spectacled grins' and the ever growing greed of
society screaming for `more', transforming this poem into a social critique.…read more