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Poetry Interpretation - Essay Example

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The poem is structured in three main parts. The first part describes a man who feels like his life has gotten out of control. The second part attempts to explain why, describing an unhappy relationship with a lover. The final part talks about potential solutions, such as hate and freedom, and why they are unacceptable…
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Poetry Interpretation
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"The Man who has all of Nothing" The poem is structured in three main parts. The first part describes a man who feels like his life has gotten out ofcontrol. The second part attempts to explain why, describing an unhappy relationship with a lover. The final part talks about potential solutions, such as hate and freedom, and why they are unacceptable. The poem leaves the reader with a sense of desperation and frustration about being trapped in a miserable life and not being able to do anything about it.
The poet writes this from the perspective of someone who feels isolated. He may have many material possessions of which others are envious. By outward appearances, the man looks like he has it all. He is in a relationship, and probably seems well off within the trappings of a successful life. His lover is very committed to him. Yet something eats away at him and he is neither satisfied nor happy. Quite to the contrary, he feels out of control - like he is going "down the drain;" and he cannot control it because his life has assumed its own trajectory. His "body spins and sinks" like a rock tossed into deep murky water. His only escape is to fall asleep, but sleep merely throws him "into a black hole." From a black hole to sinking and being sucked down a drain, all of the imagery of this poem suggests someone unable to resist the overwhelming pull of gravity sucking him toward an undesirable existence.
The things that should be pleasant for the man - sex and love - are more like drudgery and chores. Sex makes him "feel like a servant." Love makes him "feel like a slave." These things are serving someone else, his master, rather than himself. The imagery of a servant and a slave implies a sense of subordination and a life spent at someone else's pleasure. While his lover thinks the relationship is wonderful, that lover fails to see the one-sidedness of it all. The old notion of a committed lover being shackled with a ball-and-chain comes to mind. There is an illusion of happiness based upon someone else's notion of what should be a happy existence, but is just the opposite to this man. The man could be a middle aged husband in a marriage many years old, could be someone who is regularly used and taken advantage of, or could simply be someone who has fallen out of love, if he ever was really in love to begin with. This one-sided, overbearing relationship is clearly the reason why the man's life feels like it is spiraling out of control.
The man considers alternatives for getting out of his sorry state. The first is to resort to hate. He could hate himself, or he could hate his lover. But hate puts him "in a prison cell." He considers this to be an equally undesirable condition as is his present state. He would be jumping "out of the frying pan and into the fire," as the saying goes. Is he not already in a kind of prison cell Would it make sense to become a prisoner to hate as an alternative It is unlikely the prison of hate would be more desirable than the prison of love. Hate is not an option for this man.
The second alternative for this man is freedom. He can simply leave his unhappy relationship and be free again. But freedom "terrifies" him. This man is not used to being alone. The prospect of being subjugated within a selfish relationship is perhaps more appealing than being alone. He has been in this situation so long that it is all he is familiar with. He would not know how to lead a happy life on his own. A known evil is less scary than a possibility of a greater unknown evil. Therefore, the man is trapped and must succumb to the ongoing torment of his existence in its present state.
Ultimately, the poem paints a picture of a man in agony. Not happy with his life, and not happy with the alternatives, he is stuck in limbo as a slave to his relationship with his lover. Unable to resist the force of gravity that pulls him down into the despondent reality that has become his life, and unwilling to embrace the alternatives, the man sentences himself to this life of anguish. Read More
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