Lot s Wife depicts the fate of a woman following her husband Lot on his departure of their native town Sodom. Sodom was a town that God destroyed, yet he granted Lot and his wife permission to flee the town before this occurrence. Wislawa Szymborska and Anna Akhmatova offer different versions and perspectives on the same story. Each of the authors use different elements of poetry to create two very unique poems that have several similarities as well as many obvious differences. These two different poems are mainly different because of the point of view differs in each poem. Another thing that makes an important difference is how each of the poems begin, each one begins with a different situation, as the speaker is also different. The structure also is different,
which affects the fluidity of the poem and how it is read, almost working with or reinforcing the tone. It is ironic how similar tone is in these two poems, yet the structure in each varies significantly. There are different connotations in each of these poems also, making them different. Each of these pieces imply different things to different extents. Akhmatova s version leaves an abundant amount of information to figure out for ourselves while Szymborska s uses connotation in a manner which gives us more detail as to what is going on. Although there are many differences in the two different versions of the same poem, several things contribute to the similarities among them. One of the most noticeable similarities is of course the general theme the story line, and tone. All of the elements of poetry are prevalent in both pieces. They bring the reader through different emotions taking them to different endings of the same story, yet they leave the reader with almost identical impressions of what occurred. The poem s structure influences how it is read. Structure affects all of the other elements of poetry either directly or indirectly. Akhmatova s version of this piece is organized into four stanzas. Akhmatova s version includes line breaks ( hence the four stanzas ) that emphasize different portions of the poem, while Szymborska s line breaks seem random because they do not structurally affect the poem. Szymborska s poem is very fluid because she doesn t separate the lines into stanzas as Akhmatova does. This shows us that different structures can be appropriate considering compatibility with the placement of other elements of poetry. Structure has a direct effect on the rhythm of a poem. Szymborska s structure (or lack thereof) allows the reader to continuously read from beginning to end, as if the whole poem was one complete thought. Akhmatova s version also offers a simple rhyme scheme that allows thereader to read the piece in a rhythmic manner. The rhythm of the poem almost shows us that it is all one chain of thoughts spoken continuously, almost as if it were all one emotion, whereas in Akhmatova s version it is rhythmic but in a more powerful manner, partially because of the third person point of view. This point of view offers a greater difference from someone who is involved in the situation. This is often a powerful technique whether in poetry or literature of any kind, because it offers a clear and unbiased view on things. Akhmatova emphasizes the ending of the poem more so than Szymborska, because the structure of Akhmatova s depicts the whole last stanza as the ending. It draws everything into question hinting towards the end as opposed to Szymborska s where she structurally does nothing to foreshadow the ending for us, but merely concludes her poem with a matter of fact statement
regarding the possibility of having fallen facing the city. Akhmatova s poem characterizes the subject of the poem in a way that implies to the reader that she was a woman of little significance. She does this connotatively with her diction, especially when she says things such as Who will grieve for this woman? and Does she not seem too insignificant for our concern? . In comparison to Szymborska s version where thespeaker is actually Lot s Wife herself, the third person point of view leaves the reader with many unanswered concerning this woman. Szymborska s use of the first person point of view in her poem gives us insight as to what went through this woman s head and why she turned back. Lot s wife narrates the events and her emotions in Szymborska s version. Akhmatova s version does actually offer some insight on thisas well, but not to the extent that Szymborska does. This is primarily due to the use of the first person point of view. Szymborska possibly wanted to give the subject of the poem a more direct recognition than Akhmatova. Evidence that Akhmatova fails to directly address the woman is when she starts her poem by addressing Lot. This sets the stage for her tone towards her, which is one that discredits her as an individual, hence the title of the poem. The entire first stanza of his piece is dedicated to Lot but refers to his wife in a manner that embodies her lack of significance, and depicts her as someone who is slowing things down.
This is done primarily through the use of syntax and diction. Szymborska shows us that she is in fact a significant person, someone that also has emotions. The title contradicts this however because it is the same title that is used by Akhmatova, where the title seems appropriate. If Szymborska s version of the poem is in first person point of view, why is it titled Lot s Wife . One might it imagine the title to be something that would directly address the speaker in this case, especially when the majority of her poem takes place in the woman s head, sharing her intense emotions. Although Szymborska s piece offers more insight to this aspect, Akhmatova s use of third person is beneficial to the reader in other ways. Perhaps Akhmatova wanted to leave some of the emotions of the woman a mystery to the reader, leaving room for personal interpretation.
Akhmatova s use of third person point of view was very appropriate because it was fitting in that many unspoken qualities were given to Lot s wife. These qualities were not directly assigned to her, yet they were revealed through her actions. Each poem is substantially affected because of the point of view.
Akhmatova s version uses third person point of view to give us a narrative or an
observatory type of depictions of the events while Szymborska s version offers more of an emotional summary as seen from Lot s Wife herself. They each capture the experience but on different levels: physical and mental. Imagery is prevalent in both pieces, but in different contexts. In Szymborskas s poem,
imagery is kept to a minimum because the poem does not contain any similes or metaphors. In Akhmatova s version the description of what happens to Lot s wife is described with diction that Shows imagery of her pain that she encountered. The description of what she saw when she looked back on Sodom was where the most imagery occurred. The tall houses and empty windows depicted her emptiness and her lack of identity without existence in Sodom. The figurative language that was used in Akhmatova s version also helped her use imagery to show the reader how suddenly death took her over. Akhmatova says how Lot s Wife turns into transparent salt , which shows us her lack of significance before and after her death. Akhmatova also mentions how her legs are rooted to the ground . These words revealed the permanence of her death and symbolized her insignificance both before and after her existence. Szymborska used different types of imagery. Szymborska gave non living things living characteristics for example rocks growling and a crack in the ground that stopped him in his tracks. These were things symbolizing her consequences for looking back down on Sodom. Szymborska also uses imagery to show the reader the urgency upon which Lot and his wife were leaving Sodom. This is done when the woman shares that there were serpents, spiders and field mice all in the path out of Sodom, and that they were harmless at that point because every living creature was in panic and chaos to keep going. This raises the question as to why Lot s wife ever did look back. Szymborska s version of the poem begins by the speaker sharing why people thought she looked back, which she claims to not be true. She mentions her reasoning directly but there isn t enough information to give us a logical explanation. Akhmatova never explains it in great detail either. Although very different, there are several similarities between the two poems. Both versions contain immense irony concerning why the woman looks back. The reasoning in both Akhmatova s and Szymborska s poems contradict themselves. As mentioned several times earlier the same impression is left upon the reader for the most part, although each version could be interpreted by the reader several different ways, just as they could be explicated differently in comparison to each other. The title is interestingly identical for both poems, despite the immense differences otherwise. Tone is also a prevalent similarity, as when looked at side by side the same tone exists, even though there are many other factors that effect this element. In conclusion, Lot s Wife is a poem that contains many messages, as achieved differently by different authors. The elements of poetry work hand in hand and are all contingent upon one another to achieve the desired result. Each of the versions of Lot s Wife that have been
examined are evidence of this. These pieces are incomparable in quality, because they each have their own unique characteristics and make their own statements.