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Since history began, poetry has been used as one of the means through which messages are conveyed to the readers in addition to entertaining and educating them. Different poets use different styles and literal devices to convey their messages even though they might be talking about the same thing. The format in which these devices are used is what matters in any piece of literature. This work is purposed to give a comparison between two poems; "My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum" by Leonard Adame and Janice Mirikitani's "Suicide Note". While both poems discuss mortality, one does so through similes while the other does it ode respectively.
"My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum" by Leonard describes the events that take place when the speakers grandmother is still alive and how they used to sit side by side as they discussed the things of the past. As they talked together, grandmother would tell the speaker how her relatives were shot, the epidemics that had befall the country, her father's dreams about his country and finally how these dreams were killed after his death (Kirszner and Mandell 700). Suicide Note by Janice Mirikitani on the other hand describes the events that lead to and finally the death of a college student that happens while she is in the dormitory. The girl commits suicide after realizing that she has not been performing well in class something that her parents have been discouraged about particularly her father. After reading harder, expecting that her grades would improve, she is disappointed to realize that the more she studies, the worse the grades. To avoid further disappointments, she commits suicide and leaves a note in form of a poem to her parents (Kirszner and Mandell 706-707).
Looking closely at these two poems the two authors speak almost of the same thing; they both talk of death and mortality. In "My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum" the speaker gives as a memory of his grandmother as he describes the things she used to do. Generally, by the author giving us memories of the past, the speaker is simply telling us that grandmother is a thing of the past i.e. she died long time ago though we are not told why and how she died. The second death that is mentioned in the poem is the death of the relatives. As the narrator tells us, grandmother would tell her things that he did not know or had not seen with his eyes. Among the things that she tells him include the death of her relatives who were shot probably during the great world war. The last death, which is clearly described in the poem, is the death of great grandfather even though the cause of his death is not mentioned (Kirszner and Mandell 700). Janice's "Suicide Note" also talks about the death of a young college student who commits suicide after her dreams are shut down as a result of her poor performance in school. The main reason for taking away her life is that she feels insufficient as a girl and wishes she were a boy since this is the only way she would please her father (Huang 238).
Given that these two poems speak of the same message, which is death, the authors have conveyed these messages using different devices and styles. In "My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum", the author uses similes to tell the reader the events that take place in the poem. He says that "sunlight barely lit the kitchen" to mean that the mood in that environment was always sad (Adame). He uses the kitchen to symbolize the society that whose populace is dead as described by grandmother when she says that her relatives were shot (Heide 75). The lost teeth in grandmother's mouth represent the numerous lives that have been lost in the past through war where people were shot. Simile has also been used in this poem to describe the death of great grandfather. We are told that great grandfather's hopes are said to be "sunk with cement dust". This shows that his dreams were buried when he died since his body is now covered under cement dust in the grave (Kirszner and Mandell 700).
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Suicide Note on the other hand discusses mortality but uses ode to convey the message. The author has rhymed words in the poem so as to not only make it interesting to read but to put emphasis on the message as well. For instance in the first stanza, the author has rhymed the last consonant sounds of the last words of the sixth and the ninth line i.e. "disappointing you" and "pleasing you" (Kirszner and Mandell 706). Consonance has also been used in the seventh and tenth lines where the last words have ended with the letter 'd'. The last words in these two lines are "very hard" and "shoulders broad". Repetition has also successful been used to put emphasis on the message. The words "not enough" have been repeated severally to show how hard she tried to study so that she could please her parents but says that her effort was all in vain (Mirikitani). The same words "not good enough not strong enough not good enough not good enough not strong enough not good enough" have been used as the last lines on the first two stanzas. This is done to show the reader how she really emphasizes her failure and that the only way she can get away from it is to commit suicide (Kirszner and Mandell 707).
In conclusion, poets may be discussing the same thing but present it in different styles thus bringing about some major differences in their work. In this regard, similes and ode have been used in "My Grandmother Would Rock Quietly and Hum" by Leonard and Janice Mirikitani's "Suicide Note" respectively in discussing the theme of mortality. This shows how these two poems are discussing the same thing though using different styles.
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