Dialectic Journal of the poems “Beowulf”, “Grendel”, “Tyger”, “The Snowman”, and “Dreamers” focusing mainly on literary techniques.
“Sea against sand; they stowed away In the hold of the ship their shining armor… Will the seamen that sailed her sighted the land Shining cliffs and coastwise hills,” (p14, ln 74-83) The use of consonance here repeats the sound of the wind. Beowulf and his men are going to go save the Danes. They must cross the sea and the wind acts very favorable and leads them to the way. The “s” sound imitates the sound of a swift and light wind, not a treacherous gust. “Foam on her breast, like a bird she flew;” (p 14, ln79) This quote uses personification and smile.
The author personifies the ship calling it a she. One refers to ships often as female, but it also gives the ship qualities of tender and nurture. The ship guides them the right way to the Danes just as a mother guides her baby to walk. A mother would not let anything bad happen to her child just as the ship will not bring danger to Beowulf. Comparing the ship to a bird giving the voyage a feeling of being swift and smooth like a bird glides in the air. This depicts the image of them getting there safely. “Hail, King Hrothgar: Hygelac’s thane And kinsman am I. Known is the record
Of deeds of renown I have done in my youth… I pray thee therefore, prince of the Scyldings, Not to refuse the favor I ask, Having come so far, O friend of the Shield- Danes, That I alone with my loyal comrades, My hardy companions, may Heorot purge. ” (p85, ln90-115) “Beowulf” illustrates how Beowulf is a hero. A hero is the central admirable figure in the novel. He is admirable to the reader and the town’s people. He is admirable because of the tasks he has done. He also offers to help them, and not only does he offer but also he carries out his task. He saves the town from the horrible beast.
The reader admires Beowulf because they only know one side of the story, which is Beowulf’s. The author spun the story to make Beowulf a hero. “Now Grendel found, who in former days So many a warrior had wantonly slain, In brutish lust, abandoned of God, That the frame of his body was breaking at last… A huge split opened under his shoulder; Crunched the socket, cracked the sinews, Glory great was given to Beowulf. ” (p18, ln237-247) Beowulf is an epic. An epic celebrates a heroic tradition. It is traditional for the hero to defeat the great monster, in this case Grendel.
The poem builds up anticipation by describing the battle in detail. By describing how no other man before could defeat Grendel makes Beowulf seem even more heroic. Beowulf defeated Grendel with his bare hands, as a strong and powerful hero should. Grendel “She whimpered one sound: Dool-dool! Dool-dool! , scratching at her bosom, a ghastly attempt to climb back up to speech. ” (p56) diction here compares Grendel’s high language and his mother’s low language. Neither can understand each other. The sharp contrast in their language shows how alone Grendel is.
He says his mother is the only one who actually sees him but she cannot even understand him. Even the people who speak at the same level of language he does do not understand him. “My advice to you, my violent friend, is to seek out gold and sit on it. ” (p74) The dragon is an existentialist. He believes that nothing in the world has meaning. Love, hate, chaos, order, are all things that humans have put value on that do not really matter. The Dragon counts his coins and tells Grendel to seek out gold and sit on it. Gold, unlike an emotion is concrete and tangible.
He is telling Grendel to find what is concrete in the world and to hold on to it. In addition, the existentialist attitude that the individual is alone reflects in Grendel. Before the dragon, no one could understand Grendel, not even his own mother. Humans who spoke the same language as him could not understand him. Grendel is alone. “Nothing was changed, everything was changed, by my having seen the dragon. I discovered that the dragon had put a charm on me: no weapon could cut me…. Now, invulnerable, I was as solitary as one live tree in a vast of coal. (p75-76) Grendel has an epiphany after the encounter with the Dragon. He realizes that no one can hurt him. Now that he knows that, he kills more often simply for sport. This turns him from misunderstood to a monster. This also isolates him even further. Not only can he not communicate with anyone, but also now that no one can hurt him, he nothing affects him. He is isolated. “The room goes suddenly white, as if struck by lightening. I stare down, amazed. He has torn off my arm at the shoulder! Blood pours down where the limb was. ” (p172)
Grendel’s tragic downfall of his death by Beowulf is cause by his self-belief. He believes no one can hurt him so he approaches Beowulf instead of running away. If he was aware of Beowulf, and realized that he was not like the other men, and instead of thinking, nothing can hurt him, he might have survived. The Snow Man “And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter”(ln 4-6) Enjambment in the poem sets the mood. The mood is that as of a snowfall, quiet cold, settled and slow.
The poem does not need to rush its thoughts into a sentence or a stanza. By separating the thoughts into different lines and stanzas forces the reader to read slowly as that of a snowfall. The reader reads the poem peacefully, which depicts the images of a peaceful snow, covered forest. “Of any misery in the sound of the wind In the sound of a few leaves, which is the sound of the land Full of the same wind What is blowing in the same bare place” (ln8-12) Consonance in the letter “s” mimics the sound of the wind. The wind is blowing over the snowy land creating the tone of coldness again.
In addition, the word repetition of “sound” and “same” depicts the image of how when it snows everything looks the same. Snow covers everything taking away from the individuality of the land. Everything is white and cold. Refer to the entire structure of the poem. The poem structure is very consistent and uses parallelism. There are five stanzas with three lines in each. Each stanza delineates an aspect of the winter scene. The consistency in structure again shows how everything in the winter is the same and how it is hard to tell one thing from the other because the snow covers it.
The pines trees crusted in snow and the junipers crusted in ice begin to look the same and reflect each other. “Nothing that is not there, and nothing that is. ” (ln 15) Nothing that is not there refers to that something is there but the line also states that nothing that is as well. This is an example of deconstruction. The poem cannot express reality, it cannot tell you that life is full of something or nothing because these words are arbitrary, so its uses both creating a sort of paradox. This also reflects in the misery in the sound of the wind.
The winter scene welcomes the wind because it keeps the cold, however when the wind howls it sounds miserable and dead. Dreamers “Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land, Drawing no dividend form time’s tomorrows. In the great hour of destiny they stand, Each with his feuds, jealousies, and sorrows. ” (ln1-4) There is a rhyming pattern of ABAB. The pattern is to reflect the army. The soldiers march the same tune of the poem. ABAB goes into left right left right. This also reflect how everything around them has gone into a pattern, and how not even death and action excites them anymore.
Instead, they dream of simple things that are not habit anymore like baseball and the train. “Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats, And mocked by hopeless longing to regain Bank Holidays, and picture shows, and spats” (ln 11-13) The consonance and rhyme of “balls and bats” and “shows and spats” imitates how these things can be mundane and regular occurrence for people who are not soldiers. It is somewhat ironic how they can be regular things for ordinary people but not for the soldiers.
Most people long for action and things out of sync with their lives when all the soldier wants is to return to normal life. “Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,” (ln1) The poem uses satire and irony to critic the World War. Stating that soldiers are born from dead land is ironic. By writing that the soldiers are for the war even though he believes the opposite is somewhat sardonic. He is trying to say that soldiers are people just like us and that it is unrealistic to put them through the world war, just how it is unrealistic to be a member of dead land. Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats, And mocked by hopeless longing to regain Bank Holidays, and picture shows, and spats And going to the office in train. ” (ln9-14) Dreamers is an elegy because it ponders on the soldiers’ outlook on life. Ordinary things the common person takes for granted like baseball and movies, the soldiers long for. Stuck in a world of misery the simple things are what would make them happy. One does not know what he has until it is gone. The soldiers do not have these things anymore and now they miss it.
The Tyger “Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright” (ln 1) A meter of stressing the second syllable in this poem represents the sound of a hammer. The hammer refers to a blacksmith who is creating something. A blacksmith works a steady pace and the beat of the poem reflects that. “Did he who made the Lamb make thee? ” (ln20) This is an allusion to God. God created the Tyger along with lamb even though they are opposite. This is why he asks it in question form, almost as if cannot believe God would create something so ferocious compared to a soft lamb. What the hammer? What the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What the dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors claps? ” (ln13-16) There is a metaphor between a blacksmith and God. Clearly, God created the tiger yet the author refers that a hammer furnace and other blacksmith tools made the tyger. The blacksmith is also a creator like God. They both work in the same way, taking great care in everything they make. In addition, while something may not seem perfect, like the tyger, it is, because God made it.