3 Important facts about Elizabeth Jennings
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Elizabeth Jennings was originally born in Boston, Lincolnshire. However, at the age of 6, her family moved to Oxford. She then remained at Oxford for the rest of her life. This allowed her to grow in a better environment with better education. Literature in english was also more popular in Oxford than Boston, hence she had a higher chance of finding her passion in writing and develop her skills in Oxford.
Elizabeth Jennings studied at St. Anne’s College and worked in advertising at the City Library and also published a little. This allowed her to have a good education and be exposed to books, hence this would help her eventually start writing poems. Her publishing of certain titles in the past has certainly helped her to have a little experience with writing which would eventually help her with her career.
Afterwards, she became a full time writer. She was linked to a group of poets known as ‘The Movement’ which consisted of Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn. She was devoted to poetry. This allowed her to work alongside very talented individuals and help to develop her poetry skills amongst others. She could improve her poetry skills while collaborating with others to publish masterpieces.
These all have shaped Elizabeth Jennings’s writing.
The “other person” is the girlfriend or boyfriend of the poet. The first stanza talks about how there has not been any change after the poet and another person left. The poet can remember the place in full detail as the “other person” must have went there with the poet many times. The poet also talks on how it was a memorable place, which shows that the poet remembers this place for meeting the poet’s girlfriend or boyfriend. Stanza two talks about how the birds fell off the tree singing happily that was supposed to be kept private, this shows that the boyfriend or girlfriend was liked by a lot of people for his or her looks, and the poet thinks about pleasure and feels that there will be no pain involving it, this shows that the poet thought their relationship was smooth and going well. In the last stanza, the poet talks about how the place was physically the same but the absence of the “another person” made it seem like a “savage force”, this shows that without the certain person around the poet, the poet does not feel natural but feels like there is something important missing, something “savage” to her. The poet remembers the place in full detail but without the “other person” the poet was usually with, the place did not feel the same. This means the “other person” is long gone, they have left the poet a long time ago to carry on their lives and dreams. That stanza also talks about how the gentleness transformed into rage as the stanza says “earthquake tremor” which is aggressive. This could mean the separation was very aggressive and agitating, but just like an earthquake very unsuspecting and unexpected. The stanza also says fountains, birds and grass were shaken by the thought of that “the lover’s name”, which shows that the poet has never gotten over the separation and it shakes the poet’s world as the poet misses them, the poet is still upset and can remember it in full detail. The poet ultimately misses the “other person” that had spent a lot of time with her, and with the “absence” of the “other person”, the poet feels lost in an ever so memorable environment as the “other person” was a significant part of it.
The certain person the poet is referring has made a mistake, rejected by others and is trying to change who he is. The person must have been significant in the poet’s life for the poet to talk about him, perhaps the person must have caused trouble for the poet. Stanza one talks about how the person the poet is referring to is homeless and how he is not accepted by the people near him. The “person” is most likely lost in this world, his youth has gone past, but his old age hasn’t come yet, hence he is stuck in a mid-life crisis. Stanza two talks about how unnoticed and unloved the person was. Even in very happy and cheerful places like the “park” or the “bath-chairs”, he is left in the “dark”, he is still described to be left in a negative environment of isolation. This person must have been ignored and isolated from the rest of the community as he caused a terrible incident to occur or caused a crime to have been outcast by society. Stanza three talks about how the certain person has to start over his life to a new beginning despite his past being very rough and mixed up. The person may have lost his youth, but he is not too old yet, he can still change his ways and can be accepted in this community, to be recognized and respected by others. Stanza four talks about how the person can now have a balanced life, with what an ordinary old person was not able to go through and also what the young person wants to be. The old envy his younger age, the young wish to compete against him, he does not know the right path to success, hence he is scared that he is unable to fit in to this new society. All these point to the fact that this certain person had made a grave mistake, his will of being free is now being limited to very little. This has got him to think about the mistake he made, and he decided to change who he is by not being too “old”, which resulted in him stoning and being outcast, but also not too “young” which made him foolish and childish in his decisions. The poet believes that this “person” still has a life to live, he is able to regain his freedom and begin a fresh life, he is able to seek forgiveness for what he has done wrong. The poet openly accepts the person’s apology and sorrows, and gives her faith in this person, wanting him to succeed and become someone who is not isolated in the community. The person has now understood that he must balance both this “youth” and “old” in him, he must not be too childish and foolish, but must also not too passive in his decisions. Only when he finally seeks redemption is when he seeks for the forgiveness of himself, seeks for the forgiveness from others, seeks for the forgiveness from the community, only then he will become one with the society. He wishes to not be stuck in this “shadow” of isolation no longer, hence he turns over a new leaf for the malicious past he created, hence the poet’s first open acceptance of this person and who he has become is the big step into his road of redemption.
3 Important Facts About Chandran Nair
Chandran Nair, had started writing at an early age due to exposure with his father’s short stories and novels. His father work had given him an inspiration to start writing early on. This allowed Chandran to develop an early passion for writing and allow him to become a young writing prospect. This allowed him to become a very talented writer at a very young age where his first poems were published in the school magazine, named as “The Rafflesian” in 1963, when he studied at Raffles Institution. He continued to publish very successful and well-received poems which had attained him many awards.
Chandran Nair was a very talented individual who studied at Raffles Institution and the University of Singapore. He held a Masters in Science (Marine Biology) and a Diploma in Fisheries (with distinction). This meant that Chandran Nair was already a very clever person, hence he was very intelligent and educated which would make him publish very well-thought and planned out poems. His progress in education meant that he was definitely more intellectual than the average writer and could possibly think and write better.
Chandran Nair had graduated with a great record, but went into publishing poems and worked as an international civil servant with UNESCO. This meant that Chandran Nair was very dedicated to writing that he would leave his current education and a good potential job so that he would be able to write poems. He joined UNESCO which allowed him to focus more time on his poetry and writing. His dedication and commitment to writing meant that he would publish very meaningful titles such as “Grandfather” and “Singapore Writing”, which made him very successful.
These all have shaped Chandran Nair’s writing.
Reaching for stones
The person, “she”, the poet refers to, goes through a lot of pain in this poem. The poet describes “the desert” to “instinctively” come closer, with the “desert” meaning as barren and dry. She “hides” herself in the “curtain of herself”, as if she is afraid of the “desert” but is left defenceless. This “desert” is described to be very menacing and scary as it attacks her in her “shadows while stones break”, as if she is left so defenceless she has to use stones to protect herself. These “stones” could refer to the rumours she spreads so that she can protect herself from the “desert”, referring to her fear of being isolated in a barren and useless land without anyone. She wants to stay relevant and prevent herself from eventually entering this “desert”, hence she uses lies and rumours to stay popular with her friends, so she does not get isolated from others in a dry, friendshipless land. She tries her best throughout the poem to not fall into the “desert”, as she starts to “transmute philosophies and dreams into violence” and “voices gestate”, using the word “violence” critically as she begins to aggressively pick on others and create rumours on them, hence giving birth to many voices like people’s discussions and opinions on that person. She tries her best to stay relevant, she “sleeps within the stones” meaning that she lives her life on lies and rumours now, “despair taut across love” shows that she begins to lose hope in her life as she becomes more and more desperate in reaching her goal of popularity while it becomes more vain. However, the “desert sleeps dreamless”, it “diffuses dreams”, “undoes patterns”, “dries up rain”, all these negative phrases means that she cannot escape her inevitable fate, however hard she tries to run away from the “desert”, the “desert” will undo her “pattern”, it will “dry” up her “rain” , it will exterminate her dreams, leaving her back to square one. The last phrase “unmoving hands reaching for stones” suggests that she thinks she is “reaching for stones”, she thinks she is gaining popularity. However, like how the “desert” undoes everything she created, she cannot escape the truth that she is indeed not making any progress on her goal, as no matter how hard she tries she always gets sent back to the start. She has not realised she is already in the “desert”, hence she remains motionless in the “desert” until she makes the move to give up on this goal.
If i am cynical blame the sun
The poet is very contemplative about the true meaning of life in this poem. For example in stanza 1, he talks about how there is “no moment of regret” as if life would keep going on despite the ups and downs. He says that “death cannot be undone”, using the strong word “death” to signal something dangerous and scary. He must understand that life would keep carrying on, that no matter what happens things cannot be changed. He describes this feeling as “a zipper by a tug” like a strong pull onto his life which is like his bag, and the zipper is like his experiences. Not every time he receives good and cheerful moments, and like how it suddenly “tugs” and closes violently, his life gets shut off from the rest of the world. He then repeats the name of the poem in the next line, “if i am cynical blame the sun, ivy”, as if he is in denial of his own self and refuses to believe he is only concerned with himself and not for others. He talks about how people have “lived our lives alone”, “found no one else to lame”. He talks about how people have just decided to stay inside the bag of the “zipper”, refusing to open up to others as they feel like they would drag them down into their miserable lives. “nights have grown to days and gone” suggests that people keep so close to themselves they do not notice how much time they isolated themselves for. He then ends on a positive note by saying “far from dead or dying love” suggests that they however still can fix their lives by opening up to others and making friends while it lasts, do not let this passion inside them which is their “love” become “dead” or “dying” before it is too late. The phrase “we have turned our lives away” suggests that the writer feels that people have led themselves onto the wrong paths, they trapped themselves in the bag and have “zipped” themselves inside. He uses “too many times to pretend”, to suggest that people never really left this bag of emptiness and had never really opened themselves up, instead had pretended to blend in with the rest. “it was fun”, that’s how he ends it. The word “was” signifies an end, a past tense, it has already gone by. People have lived their lives in this one bag, never looking forward to the day they “unzip” this bag and open up with others, this would eventually lead to their demise. The poet’s cynical feeling is because he wanted to help others, however they decided to “zip” themselves in this bag and never open up, this is why the writer feels sad and contemplative in the poem as he knew he actually cared for the person.
Critical Appreciation of “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”
“Grandfather”, the poem published by Chandran Nair, talks about Chandran Nair’s grandfather, who had lived to 76 years of age and was a very diligent, hardworking man. The poet refuses to be sentimental about his grandfather in this poem, but decides to respect and show affection to his late grandfather. His grandfather has been through many hardships, he has been through great amounts of grief and disappointments, where “gods bothered him” and “temples missed his sacrifice”, showing that not even the gods would side with his grandfather. He has been through “drought-stricken months”, meaning that his hard work as a farmer had brought very little money for his family’s survival during long periods of droughts. He would “plough”, ”sough” and “harvest” for years and years, yet he “smile transcends” as he is contented despite all the tough and painful work. His grandfather has grown to live with the tough work in the farm, he “aged to ripened toughness”, “to resist anger, misfortunes of stricken years”. This shows that his grandfather was a very mature man and did not complain about his hardships, which the poet truly respects as his grandfather stood with pride and resolute in his work. The poet respects the “seventy six years” that his grandfather has lived, every single year of it, as it “compromised his eyes” and made him feel very emotional about his grandfather’s life. His grandfather’s “laughter” makes the poet feel very calm and happy when he was around. He wishes to be like his grandfather, to be a very tough and strong man, as he wants to wear his “frown” as in seriousness to any task he is given, he wants to become “hard” like his grandfather. The poet envies what his grandfather has done in his life, and wishes to take a step closer into his life and face his hardships like a man, however he ends the poem with a sad note. “Like a padi stalk, once green, easily bent”, “he grew with age”, this suggests that his grandfather eventually turned old and frail as his life carried on, and he could no longer be as strong and as fit as he once was. The poet describes his grandfather as the “padi stalk”, his old age as if it “easily bent” and took him out of shape. However, the poet is still proud of his grandfather, for what pain and hardship he has went through has inspired the poet to be like him.
“Grandmother”, the poem published by Elizabeth Jennings, talks about Elizabeth Jennings’ late grandmother’s life before she passed away. Elizabeth Jennings evokes a sense of loss for her grandmother in this poem, however she also evokes a sense of helplessness as she was never really able to understand her grandmother fully due to the age gap. She reacts to her grandmother’s death contemplatively, talking about her life just before she left her. She talks about her grandmother’s antique shop, and says that it “kept her”, as in it keep her company when she had nothing left to do, and was there for her unlike the poet. She loved her antique shop as she adorned it with “Apostle spoons”, “Bristol glass”, “faded silks” and “heavy furniture”. She kept her shop in “polish”, showing her love and dedication to her antique shop as she had spent so much time adorning and decorating it. Her grandmother had only the antique shop as her company, her only thing she lived with everyday, the poet was unable to carry out these tasks for her. When her grandmother asked her to go out once, she refused. She said it was a “wish” to “not be used Like the antique objects”. The poet did not want to go out with her grandmother as she did not feel the need to be adorned by her, to be treated like how she treated her antique shop, with love. It was heartbreaking to her grandmother when the poet rejected, she was deeply hurt and the poet still remains guilty about this rejection. The poet most likely should not have thought this way, but this was before her grandmother’s passing, and she feels a deep pain of regret for hurting her grandmother’s feelings. Later on the third stanza, her grandmother has become too old she is too frail to care for her antique shop, hence she put her “best things” which were her favourite antiques in a small room. The poet describes the smell of the room as “old”, and can’t be “polished”, this meant that her grandmother was so frail she could not even polish her antiques anymore, hence they started turning dusty and old. She then states that “the smell of absence where shadows come”, “There was nothing then To give her own reflection back”, this shows that her grandmother has passed on, hence there is no reflection to see of the antiques as her grandmother was no longer looking after them, and they become left in the “shadows” as only her grandmother cared for them, but now she was gone and they were left alone. In the fourth and last stanza, she refers back to her grandmother’s death again. She felt no “grief” but only “of what I once refused”, suggests that she is still very regretful of rejecting her grandmother for going out. In her room there were things she never used due to her old age, but were “needed” as they brought her memories of her past. No more “finger marks was there”, but “Only new dust falling through the air”, suggests that her grandmother was not able to touch her antiques anymore due to her frail age, hence no finger marks were there but only dust. This poem is about the poet’s reaction to her grandmother’s death and her feelings on the nature of love. Her grandmother has lost her sense of identity throughout the poem, due to her frail and old age she could no longer do what she once could, she was no longer the person she once was, as “shadows” and “dust” begin to fall in.
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