Beryl Clarke, Contributor (YOUTH LINK)
The persona wishes that he could be as brave as the flowers, who know who they owe their life to - the earth. They know their place and obey the order, or cycle, of life and death. The persona wishes that he could be this way because he is the opposite, he wants to live forever. The persona wants the flowers to teach him NOT to fear death, but to accept it.
- Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing that he could be as brave as the flower. This implies that the persona does not think that he is brave, but a coward in the face of death.
- Stanza 2, line 14: This is another comparison between the persona and the plant. The persona wishes that he could look death in the face and be cheerful, like the plant. Again, this emphasizes that he lacks.
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it appear welcoming and pleasant.
It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive when it is facing its very mortality, on the top of a casket. Death is a sad affair, and the flowers are at their best when ushering people back to the earth.
The persona is speaking directly to flowers and giving them human qualities, therefore, the whole poem is an example of the use of a type of personification called APOSTROPHE. He goes as far as to ask the flower to teach him things that will make him be like it.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
This word literally means brave or heroic. The word, however, also brings to mind adjectives such as charming and attentive, like a knight would be in olden days. So the plants are not simply brave in their acceptance of death, but they are also gracious.
5. 'harmless show'
The word harmless sticks out in this phrase because it implies that the flowers are demure and quiet in their beauty.
This is a movable frame on which a coffin or a corpse is placed before burial or cremation, or on which they are carried to the grave.
7. 'teach me that my breath like yours may sweeten and perfume my death'
This implies that if death is not feared, then the person will go into deaths arms joyfully, without any sorrow, remorse or bitterness.
The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires the flowers for its accepting attitude towards death.
The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The persona is thinking about death, how he relates to it versus how others relate to it.
A contrast in this poem is the persona's fear of death, versus the flowers'acceptance of it.
Death is the overwhelming theme in this poem. The persona admires the way in which the flowers deal with death and wish to emulate it. Death is a very scary prospect for the persona.
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