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Poetry Assignment Part B

Poems and literary work may originate from many different parts of the world, and it is

interesting to see the similarities and differences in these works from various writers. Depending on

where an author is from, their worldview and environment may be completely different than another

author; someone from Asia may have a different perspective on life than an author from North

America. However, some literary works may have similar meanings to other works despite the

difference in origin and writing style. This essay is written to examine these works from different

origins and authors but with similar themes and meanings in mind.

The theme Beyond Personal Goals – Individual and Societal Responsibility represents the

responsibility one has to one's self and also to one's society. I found that in Richard Cory, by E.G.

Robinson from the U.S.A., the character the poem is named after minds his own business and does not

really help out the poorer citizens. In How Much Land does a Man Need by Leo Tolstoy from Russia,

Pahom gets caught up in his personal greed for more material possessions compared to his wife's sister

who is happy living communally with her husband. Cat in the Rain by Hemmingway, also from the

U.S.A., shows the respect Italians have for the deceased veterans of the war memorial in the story,

compared to the American couple who are also caught up in materialistic possessions and do not get

along well with each other. Finally, in A Certain Night by Ting Ling from China, the Nationalist men

and women who represent the well-intentioned resistance against the oppressive Communist

government are executed by ruthless Communist soldiers – these men and women die giving up their

lives in their attempts for the greater good. It was interesting to see that this story was written in China

during a Communist government where people die for their good causes, compared to the other stories

where generally the people are caught up in their greed for more possessions or are not willing to help

other people out.

The second theme, Dealing with Eternal Issues – Truth and Justice, talks about subjects that are
very wide and all-encompassing in nature, and I found the literary works under this subject were very

difficult to understand. In The Allegory of the Cave by Socrates from Greece, Socrates relates his ideal

teaching of education to prisoners in a cave, who are eventually brought out into the light. In Young

Goodman Brown by Nathaniel from the U.S.A., Goodman Brown's innocent worldview is destroyed in

one night where he witnesses (or dreams about) the corruption and hypocrisy of church officials and

others, and even possibly his own wife's corruption. Goodman Brown is from then on fed up with

religion and others. I found this story very similar to Garden of Love by William Blake, mentioned in

the next paragraph, in how this story takes place at the Salem Witch Trials, and how the author,

Nathaniel, is personally disgusted by the way officials used their power and religion to the detriment of

others. In Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold from England, ----------

Lastly, the theme Joys, Doubts and Fears represents the mix of emotions and feelings

somebody may have in various situations. In Garden of Love by William Blake from England, the

speaker is shown to be confused and hurt about how the “Garden of Love” from his youth has been

built upon and almost ruined from his perspective – he is probably sad and frustrated with how the

occupants are treating the garden in the name of religion, though to those people, they likely feel they

are treating it well and totally justified. In Song by Heinrich Heine from Germany, the writer laments

his loved one rejecting him and compares it to flowers wilting and earth drying up and moulding. In

Chess by Roserio from Mexico, she talks about her interest in playing in a battle of the mind such as

Chess, and plays fiercely and competitively against her opponent. In all three of these poems, the

authors write very humanly about their mix of emotions in each scenario, ranging from

competitiveness, anger, frustration and lamenting/grief.

I thought it was interesting that the works from the U.S.A. were generally written about

selfishness and the change of individuals whereas the works from other countries frequently talked

about larger subjects or groups of people. This was most notable from A Certain Night, which was

written in a communist country where the end of the story results in men and women being executed by
the Communist party. Many of the examined poems and literary works had very similar themes and

subjects overall, with their main differences being the material used (more individual for USA stories,

more groups/larger subjects for other stories) to tell the story/theme. After all, all writers are human,

and the environment and personality of writers is what causes them to tell their stories differently.