Life And Spirit


Life And Spirit Essay, Research Paper

Poetic and rhetorical devices are used to create the tone of a poem. With a defined and structured tone, the meaning of a poem can be more clearly and effectively conveyed. The poem ?Jehovah buried, Satan dead? by E.E. Cummings has a distinct meaning that has been heightened by its tone. The tone is also accented through the use of rhetorical and poetic devices. A few of these devices include onomatopoeia, conceit, slant rhyme, the form, sound, and repetition. Starting with an evaluation of the meaning, the tone and rhetorical and poetic devices become identifiable.

An interpretation of the title and first line, ?Jehovah buried, Satan Dead? gives an immediate insight at the meaning of the poem. The absence of both Jesus and the devil in the world would lead to an absence of religion, and a spiritual void. Without spirituality, the world becomes desensitized to emotions and events. ?Badness not being felt as bad,? (line 3) is a prime example of what Cummings sees as the numbing of people to the world. In place of spiritual worship is a constant struggle for, and reverence to, material items. People ?hock? ?Joy? and ?Pain? (line 7), referring to the pawning of emotions in a quest for money. The reliance on technology and material belongings causes a loss of individuality, as well as personal freedom. This loss of individuality is seen in line 10 which reads ?your Harry?s Tom, your Tom is Dick;? referring to all men becoming indiscernible from each other. Among the perpetrators addressed by Cummings are modern transportation, time, and radio. The lines ?obey says toc, submit says tic? (line 5) as well as ?Gadgets murder squawk and add? (line 11) and ?to kiss the mike? (line 15) show a few things that have started to dominate the lives of men. This has become an even more frightening truth with the world?s present reliance on computers and the Internet for a majority of functions. These technologies and the loss of spirituality, cause mankind to do anything possible to achieve material success. All of this culminates into the deterioration of society. Cummings tells that the only way to prevent this catastrophe is for man to becomes more Christ-like, more individualistic. Mankind must stop its slide into a rut of materialistic irreverence by becoming more self-reliant

An established meaning makes the tone more evident. The biggest challenge here is to find words strong enough to describe the tone so expertly conveyed by Cummings. The adjectives cynicism, alarmed, and disgust describe the tone. However, it is the use of rhetorical and poetic devices that create this tone.

The most prominent and affective devices include the poem’s form, onomatopoeia, metaphor, rhyme, sound, and repetition. ?Jehovah buried, Satan dead? is written in a strict ballad form (100 American Poems of the Twentieth Century, 148). This specific type of ballad consists of three eight-line stanzas and a final four-line stanza. The rhyme scheme goes a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c for the first three stanzas and b-c-b-c for the final one. This structure brings validity to Cummings commentary, even though the reader might find his tone offensive and insulting. The use of onomatopoeia in line 5 transmits the image of a clock. Rhyme, repetition, and sound are the major devices of the poem. Cummings uses slant rhyme to creatively fill the rhyme requirements of the ballad. Also, the repetition of ?who dares to call himself a man?? at the end of every stanza stresses the poor condition of humankind today. It is also interesting to look at the capitalization of ?Himself? in the final line. This refers to Jesus and the line does not end with a question mark, rather it is a statement of Jesus? strength. This exhalation of Jesus as the only one capable of bringing salvation is enforced by the metaphor in lines 26-27 where society is seen as without ?lifepreservers? and ?only He may walk? on the water. The final device is sound. Most notable are the harsh sounds of King and Christ in line 26, which alert and awaken the reader to the culmination of the poem and Cummings ideas.

The poem?s call for a life of spirit, and the rejection of materialism, has an especially alarming and alerting air to it. This tone is created through the use of poetic and rhetorical devices. ?Jehovah buried, Satan dead? by E.E. Cummings boasts use of these devices, and when they are combined with the tone and purpose of the poem, these three components create a masterpiece.

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