Poem Imagery Creation in Poems: Japan by Billy Collins, Sea Violet by Hilda Doolittle and Song by Christina Rossetti

For a poem to create an image in a reader’s head, the language and descriptions throughout must be clear enough to paint a picture. Details about who a subject is, what they are feeling, touching, and doing, and where they are located all contribute to this ability to draw up an image through simple words. In Billy Collins’ poem Japan, he uses the objects that the character is touching such as a piano, a painting, and an empty shelf. These physical objects are common and therefore good examples to use in a poem that is try to convey beauty with a musical undertone for the reader.

Hilda Doolittle’s Sea Violet uses a lot of nature to portray beauty and musicality. Her language is delicate which resembles the flowers she describes. By combining a soft image with a soft tone, the reader can paint a calming scene of beauty and experiences a stress stress-free which is ultimately very pleasurable and makes the poem seem much more attractive.

Lastly, Christina Rossetti’s Song also uses nature but in a different way than Doolittle. Because Rossetti is referencing death in her poem, she creates a darker more saddening image for the reader. Because her details are so explicit, the reader can enjoy the poem more by being able to envision everything that the subject is experiencing. The use of nature and the subjects’ surroundings in all three of these pieces creates very strong, detailed images which make the reader’s experience much more pleasurable.

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Japan, a poem written by Billy Collins in 1941 – the same year that Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan – conveys a rather simplistic image through its language and descriptions. The author of this piece is often seen using common household objects that allow most readers to understand and be able to relate to the piece. This poem talks about a person who is reciting their poem, a haiku to be more specific. The readers have canalized this character walking through a house and watching the character stop in front of several objects, continuously repeating the poem. The character describes the feeling they get when reading as “like eating / the same small, perfect grape / again and again.” This use of the grape allows the reader to envision themselves taking part in eating delicious, juicy fruit. The reader can now understand how good it feels for the subject of the piece to be reciting this poem. The poet describes how the characters walk about their home, “leav[ing] its letters falling / through the air of every room.” Through this line, the reader can feel how light and free the subject feels reading this poem. It is almost as if the words are flying right out of their mouth. The character moves and is said to be “stand[ing] by the big silence of the piano and say[ing] it.” For the subject to prefer reading this poem over stopping to play the piano shows that they feel this poem provides more of a musical experience than an instrument could.” Again, the reader can see how free the subject feels when they stand in front of a painting of the sea and recite it. They can look at the ocean and visualize themselves swimming in a huge body of nowhere without any set destination. Their imaginations are, at this point, just as artistic as the painting because of how much the subject is enjoying the poem they are reciting. “I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.” At this point, the subject is creating their music to go along with the piece they are reading. Through this story of a person experiencing a poem – while the readers themselves are experiencing this poem – they can put themselves into the shoes of the subject and visualize walking in their shoes. By being able to experience the delights that come with reading good poetry almost firsthand, the poem itself becomes more enjoyable for the readers.

Hilda Doolittle’s 1916 poem, called, Sea Violet, can convey beautiful imagery to its readers through the delicate discussion of a beautiful scene in nature. The images created in this piece are composed through a combination of both language and descriptions and the imagery it produces would not be as meaningful to the reader if either of those aspects were missing. Soft descriptions including a “fragile” white violet, blue violets that “flutter,” and the “frail” grasp of violet all contribute to the beautiful and positive imagery that is produced throughout the piece. Had Doolittle described these flowers using harsher words such as perhaps “weeping,” “dying,” or “rotting” the readers’ perceptions of this scene would be less clear. They would not be sure whether the image they are being told to create is supposed to be a happy and positive one or a dark, gloomy, and negative one. Because Doolittle is so careful with her language while describing this scene, the reader can enjoy a peaceful picture in their minds, creating a pleasurable experience while reading the poem.

Song, also known as When I am dead, my dearest, written in 1848 by Christina Rossetti uses a similar technique to Hilda Doolittle to create imagery in her piece. She implements some nature into her piece however, she does so using a more negative town. Some of Rossetti’s language leads the readers to create a darker image. For example, she opens up with a statement about death and continues to talk about roses which are sharp and often associated with funerals and sadness – although also sometimes with love. She then mentions a “shady cypress tree” and “green grass” being above her dead body after it has been buried. These sadder images create a gloomy image for the reader, but still a clear one. DespiteEven thoughts language and descriptions throughout the poem were composed of more negative connotations than those of Doolittle, the reader is still able to have a very pleasurable reading experience because of how clear the imagery is in this piece and how precise Rossetti was about the feelings she wanted her poem to convey.

As you can see through the different techniques implemented by each poet, there are several ways to create an explicit image for your readers. By using common items that most people have seen in their lives, they can relate to what a subject is interacting with because the readers themselves have interacted with those objects before. This creates a common image of everyday life. By using bright colors or happier descriptions of things like nature, the poet is able can a positive image and ba etter an attitude to the readers. On the other hand, using gloomy language and describing darker scenes creates just the opposite image in a reader’s mind.

In the end, using descriptive language and common objects or places will create a very annunciated image in your readers’ heads which will allow them to better enjoy the poem, ultimately leading to a much more pleasurable reading experience.

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Poem Imagery Creation in Poems: Japan by Billy Collins, Sea Violet by Hilda Doolittle and Song by Christina Rossetti. (2022, Jun 16). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/poem-imagery-creation-in-poems-japan-by-billy-collins-sea-violet-by-hilda-doolittle-and-song-by-christina-rossetti/

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