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In poetry there are many ways to represent power, I will be comparing Storm on the Island with Exposure to show the power nature has over man. Storm on the Island represents nature attacking man and this can be seen through the semantic field of war shown through “salvo”, “strafes” and “bombarded”, the concept of war often implies attacks/fighting and those with the upper hand have a sense of power. The concept of attacking in Exposure can be seen through “ice east winds that knife us”, the use of “knife” also draws this into the semantic field of war and represents one on one combat. The two poems allow the reader to infer that man often has to fight against the power of nature and that harsh conditions cause them to fight for themselves and their own life, much like in war. The poems are alike in the fact they reference war to open up the reader’s senses and make it more personal to them, involving them makes the poem more realistic or emotive. The words “salvo” and “strafes” create a sibilance ‘s’ sound and this can represent the sharp sound of the wind, this allows a more in depth perspective of the poem and is what makes it different to Exposure because it doesn’t create sound with its descriptions.
The two poems have links to God and his creation. In Storm on the Island it says the “wizened earth”, this shows that with time God’s design is growing and becoming more aware which allows it to combat or support us. A biblical reference can also be seen in Exposure and is shown through “God’s invincible spring”, this is fairly possessive and shows that God has conditioned his creation to become “invincible” and not be affected by us as people. The two poems show this idea that nature has been preparing to against us or with us, in this case they share the concept that God is allowing nature to fight back and claim a sense of revenge for not following the parable of the talents and giving back more to nature than what we take. By us not respecting his creation, his is punishing us with the elements.
The poet of Storm on the Island presents the power of nature firstly through the quotation “wizened earth”. The adjective “wizened” shows that the ground is barren. This means that mother is able to grow which furthermore portrays a sense of death and disaster due to the lack of care for the land. The effect of this phrase at the beginning of the poem was used to create an effect of uncertainty right from the start. The effect on the reader is to create the sense of danger before anything has even happened. Similarly, in Ozymandias the poet uses the phrase “shatter’d visage” to present violence and power. The reader can infer that although the statue is built up and strong, the power of time can overcome the statue and therefore has the ability to damage it.
In Storm on the Island, the word “pummels” is used to describe the wind. This was used to create a strong impression that the wind is harsh, although you can’t see it visibly. In comparison to this, the writer of Ozymandias presents the effects of the natural world by stating the damage which was created by nature. This is highlighted through the quotation “two vast trunkless legs of stone”. The word “vast” was used to emphasise the size of the statue, however the phrase “trunkless legs” illustrates that the artwork was either incomplete or had been damaged.
In addition to this, in Storm on the Island, the phrase “exploding comfortably” creates juxtaposition between fear and safety. The effect on the reader is to show how not even the poet knows what is happening due to the statement which creates contrast with itself.
In Ozymandias, the statue is shown to be damaged by the winds. The effect of this is for the reader to visualise how the artwork can sometimes overthrow human power, however the power of nature is strong enough to break it down. The quotation “king of kings” symbolises how, even though the man in which that statue was created for was very powerful, time still is able to demolish the remains and memories of the king. In comparison to this, the simile “spits like a tame cat turned savage” (from Storm on the Island) evokes the impression that even familiar and well known things can become unknown or turn bad when there is a fearful event such as a storm.
In both ‘Storm On The Island’ and ‘The Prelude’ both poets show that man is belittled by nature. This is portrayed through the use of structure where in The Prelude the poem begins with stealing a boat which is seen as “an act of stealth” the adverb “stealth” could imply to the readers that the act performed was secretive and is forbidden. However, on an alternative viewpoint the adverb “stealth” could be symbolic of how man is taking from nature for their advantage; it could imply to the readers that man is selfish and is arrogant in the way that they take from nature stealthily and secretively , this image of humans being selfish could be influenced by Wordsworth’s childhood as his relatives were mistreating him; this could allow Wordsworth to believe that all humans are like this and so portray them as being selfish in the poem. However as the poem progresses Wordsworth then describes seeing a mountain peak that is “huge black and huge” the deliberate repetition of the adjective “huge” is significant as this adjective is not complex is and is simple compared to the descriptions of nature at the beginning of the poem, this could give an imagery to the readers of how speechless Wordsworth was due to the shock of seeing nature in a mighty and bigger form than humans, therefore suggesting how nature is seen to belittle and intimidate humans suggesting its dominancy.
Similarly, the poet- Seamus Heaney-used structure to imply how the power of nature is more dominant than the power of man, However, this is implied by the use of half rhyme at the beginning “squat” and “slate” and at the end “air” and “fear” this use of half rhyme gives a misplaced rhythm to the poem as the half rhyme, when read out gives an awkward rhythm to the poem, this is done diliberatley as the use of half rhyme gives the sense of chaos and reflects the disruption of the Island from the nature (the storm) like how the half rhyme also disrupts the poem’s rhythm. The significance of the half rhyme being at the start and end of the poem could imply how the storm is inescapable and is trapping the islanders just as the half rhyme words trap the poem. This use of structure in both poems is to show to the readers how man is belittled by the power of nature and how man’s selfish ways is dominated by nature.
Both poets use personification in order to define the power of nature; this is suggested by the nature (in storm on the island) to “spit” and be “savage” similarly in The Prelude the nature (the mountain) is described to be ‘following’ the poet- “it strode after me”. The use of personification in both poems is to imply that the nature is also as intelligent or even more intelligent than humans; this personification therefore allows the readers to believe that nature is seen on the same level of power as humans are, therefore suggesting that nature is powerful and intimidating.
However, the poets use personification in different ways as in ‘The Storm on the Island’ Heaney represents the nature to be more violent and aggressive with the verb “pummels” suggesting to the readers that the nature is very violent. The verb “pummels” begins with a plosive “p” which could imply the emphasis of the storm being aggressive. However, alternatively the plosive “p” gives an onomatopoeic sound of a canon which could imply to the readers that the storm is being portrayed as having conflict with the island, this could be influenced by Heaney’s experience of living through the conflict between Britain and Ireland, therefore this could symbolise how Heaney believes that the storm is as violent and unforgettable as the conflict, which would again emphasise the powerful characteristics of nature.
Whereas, in The Prelude the nature is portrayed to have instincts and be more cunning in the way it intimidates which is suggested by the personified phrase “voluntary power instincts” this will allow the readers to believe that the nature is secretive and almost sly in the way it shows power against man due to the noun “instincts” suggesting that nature is more cunning in its use of power compared to nature in Storm on the Island which implies that nature is aggressive. This will allow the readers to believe that nature is also powerful in both poems.
In both poems the use of structure and personification gives an idea to the readers that nature is powerful and undermines man which could imply that both Heaney and Wordsworth believe nature to be having denomination over mankind and human greed.
The power of the natural word can be presented in both ‘Storm on the Island’ and in ‘Ozymandias’ in different ways, though.
In Storm on the Island, the power of nature is presented as quite fierce towards the character. For example it says ‘we are bombarded with the empty air’, this shows that nature can be quite fierce as the verb ‘bombarded’ is often used to describe war, as though you may be ‘bombarded’ by the opposing side, this then shows that they might be in some sort of battle with the environment, which they are trying to survive, but nature is winning.
On the other hand, in Ozymandias, the power of nature is represented as powerful, but no fierce as seen in ‘Storm on the Island’. In Ozymandias it refers to Ozymandias himself as ‘king of kings’, which shows that he is very powerful and that he once ruled everyone, it seems that nature might have taken its toll on the powerful stature as it is described as it has fallen down or decayed, which could show that nature is powerful as it can take down a statue of the ‘king of kings’. The noun ‘king’ shows that Ozymandias was a very powerful person, and it also relates to the times on Ancient Egypt and ancient times, where an emperor used to rule over all the land, so to have a statue fallen down, it shows a loss of power, which has been taken over by the power of nature.
Another way in which the power of the natural world is presented in Storm on the Island would be when it says ‘strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear’, this quote shows that the power of the natural world is both powerful and powerless at the same time. It is powerful enough for us to be scared of it and to have ‘fear’ although it is powerless enough to be represented using the noun ‘nothing’, which shows it is powerless as if it doesn’t exist, and therefore has no power. In contrast, the fact that it is also represented with the adjective ‘huge’, when it is put together with ‘nothing’ to make ‘huge nothing’ as seen in the poem, it could show us that it is in fact powerful as ‘huge’ is used to describe something that is very big, so ‘huge nothing’ is an oxymoron and therefore it means that they go against each other and so they juxtapose each other, something that is very big which should indicate a lot of power, but also something that doesn’t exist at the same time. So the power of the natural world is shown to be juxtaposing against itself, which could show that we do not choose to be afraid of it ourselves, it is something that is natural with us.
So overall, the power of the natural world is represented as being very powerful in both of the poems, although it can also be seen as powerless, in ‘Storm on the Island’ where in Ozymandias it is shown to have the ability to overthrow a powerful being.
In ‘Storm on the Island’ Seamus Heaney presents the power of the natural world as controlling and aggressive. Similarly the poem ‘The Prelude’ also presents the power of the natural world as being controlling and aggressive.
The line ‘Forgetting that it pummels your house too’ presents the power of the natural world as it uses aggressive language that can represent the power it has. The use of the verb ‘pummels’ is harsh and can be interpreted by the reader as nature destroying man-made objects such as the ‘house’ which highlights the power the natural world has over mankind. This can relate to the line in the Prelude that quotes, ‘A little boat tied to a willow tree,’ this suggests how mankind are anchored to nature which suggests the power that nature has over us, which could be viewed by the reader as how we rely on the natural world, due to the strong influence it plays in our lives.
This can be contradicted in ‘Storm on the Island’ as it is more about the aggressive power the natural world has. For example ‘But there are no trees, no natural shelter’ and ‘You might think that the sea is company, Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs.’ Both of these use very negative, aggressive words such as ‘no’ and ‘exploding’ these suggest how we shouldn’t rely on the natural world as it also brings destruction along with creation. However on there isn’t much vegetation or any signs of nature, most of the structures on the island are man-made, implying that the only nature the island is greeted by is destructive. ‘Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs’ could be interpreted by the reader as it being easy for the natural world to ruin their home as it has no reconciled emotions to its actions. Also the verb and adverb ‘Exploding Comfortably’ is a use of an oxymoron, signalling to the reader that the two words should not be paired together as explosions generally bring destruction, fear and noise making it almost impossible for someone to feel relaxed when exposed to it. Symbolising how the writer presents the natural world and controlling and aggressive as it has no regrets towards its actions and persists in attacking the inhabitants homes.
In the Prelude the use of ‘straight I unloosened her chains’ implies how the boat drifting from the shoreline away from the tree is mankind taking steps on its own two feet and is starting to stop relying on nature. However the reader may also interpret it as the writer releasing nature by untying the shackles it had around it and taking their own steps towards becoming more independent while also releasing the burden of keeping it chained up. This can relate to the line in Storm on the Island, ‘You might think that the sea is company’ as in the Prelude mankind is drifting off into the sea away from the willow tree although mankind is unaware that ‘the sea is not company’ as we are made to believe it is as we still rely on things. This highlight the power of the natural world as we always rely on it.
At the end of Storm on the island Seamus Heaney states ‘strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.’ This may make the reader feel confused as he talks about the dangers and problems it causes for us but then refers to it as ‘a huge nothing’. The use of the oxymoron within this phrase is significant as it resembles that the power they are competing against has no real power or control over them it is all metaphoric. Also making the natural world appear to be something that should not be feared contradicting the rest of his poem as it all surrounds the overwhelming impact the weather has on the island and how the inhabitants live in fear of it.
Overall these poems relate because in the end they both show that the power the natural world has is what we rely on too much. It can ‘pummel houses’ and ‘explode comfortably’ yet we still rely on it to support us. This makes the natural world seem powerful as it has so much control over us.
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