Words of Wisdom:

"Find out who you are and do it on purpose" - Barno

Comparing Two Poems "This Room" and "Love After Love"?

  • Date Submitted: 01/26/2011 11:41 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.8 
  • Words: 392
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This poem is about self-discovery. Walcott suggests that we spend years assuming an identity, but eventually discover who we really are - and this is like two different people meeting and making friends and sharing a meal together. Walcott presents this in terms of the love feast or Eucharist of the Christian church - “Eat...Give wine. Give bread.” And it is not clear whether this other person is merely human or in some way divine.

The poem begins with the forecast of the time when this recognition will occur - a moment of great happiness (“elation”) as “you...greet yourself” and “each will smile at the other's welcome”.

The second stanza suggests that one has to fit in with others' ideas or accommodate oneself to the world, and so become a stranger to oneself - but in time one will see who the stranger really is, and welcome him or her home. Our everyday life is seen, therefore, as a kind of temporary disloyalty, in which one ignores oneself “for another” - but all along it is the true self, the stranger “who has loved you” and “who knows you by heart”.

And when this time comes, then one can recall and review one's life - look at the record of love-letters, photographs and notes, and what one sees in the mirror - and sit and feast on one's life.

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The poem is written in the second person - as if the poet addresses the reader directly. It is full of imperative verbs (commands) “sit”, “give”, “eat”, “take” and “feast”. The poet repeats words or variants of them - “give”, “love”, “stranger” and “life”. The verse form is irregular but most lines are loosely iambic and some (the 8th and 13th, for example) are quite regular tetrameters.

This is a very happy poem, especially in its view of the later years of life, not as a time of loss but of fulfilment and recovery.

What do you think this poem means? Why does the poet imagine someone as being like two different people at the same time?
How important is it for us to recognize what...

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