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Poetry Explication: Edgar Lee Masters Lucinda Matlock and Seth Compton - Essay Example

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Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, novelist and dramatist, most famously known for his anthology of poems entitled ‘Spoon River Anthology’. The anthology is a depiction of the lives of various fictional people belonging to Spoon River, Edgar Lee Masters’, own childhood home…
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Poetry Explication: Edgar Lee Masters Lucinda Matlock and Seth Compton
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Download file to see previous pages Both poems, ‘Lucinda Matlock’ and ‘Seth Campton’ can be seen to have their central focus upon presenting their perspective of life. Each poem representing a different character provides its own take on life. Lucinda Matlock ends with ‘It takes life to love life’ (l 22) and Seth Campton ends on a somewhat sad note of resignation having failed to impart his view of life to others, that ‘no one knows what is good/ Who knows not what is evil;/ And no one knows what is true/ Who knows not what is false.’ (l 16-19) It is important to note that in the presentation of their perspectives on life, Edgar Lee Masters has presented two diverse speakers in each poem. Lucinda Matlock, is an old woman who has lived her life to the fullest, dying at the age of ninety-six. She has a much more domestic view on life, having lived her life in the conventional way, as an obedient wife and dutiful mother; ‘We were married and lived together for seventy years,/ Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children’ (l 6-7). Seth Compton on the other hand comes across as a scholarly and a well-read man. The books mentioned in the poem, dealing with historical revolutions (Volney’s ruins), religion (Butler’s Analogy), and even the diverse nature within a human being (Faust and Evangeline) all depict the knowledge and wisdom that he has gained from reading. However, his attempt to pass on this knowledge and his desire to leave behind something significant for his people has sadly failed, for the value of the library he had built has not dawned upon his people who have sold it in an auction, shortly after his death, thereby destroying ‘the last vestige/ Of (his) memory and influence’ (l 5-6). The desire in the poem, ‘Seth Compton’ to impart some of his knowledge to the rest of his town fellows, bares some close relation to the poem ‘Lucinda Matlock’. There too, Lucinda feels that she, having lived life to the fullest and having embraced life and what it had to offer has understood life in a way that the young generation has failed to; ‘What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,/ Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?/ Degenerate sons and daughters, / Life is too strong for you-- / It takes life to love Life.’ (l 18-22) Similarly Seth Compton too has expressed his desire to impart his understanding of the world to the people, but has remained unsuccessful in opening up the people’s mind to the positive as well as the negative aspects of life. They sadly remain as close-minded as before stating: "What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?" (l 12) The speaker sadly expresses at the end of the poem, that their willing denial of the evil in the world keeps them away from understanding the good in the world as well. For only by comprehending and accepting the opposing factors of life can they reach a true understanding of life. This too can be seen in close connection to Lucinda Matlock’s philosophy. Her statement, ‘It takes life to love life’ (l 22) also hints at the fact that life, with all its positive and negative aspects must be fully embraced. One must give himself up to the pleasures as well as the horrors of life and only then can he learn to love life. ‘Life’ therefore takes upon a whole array of meanings in the poem ‘ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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