Comparative Essay: Baca vs. Bradstreet
In Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem entitled I,” and Anne Bradstreet’s “Verses Upon the Burning of Her House,” both poets write about their dreadful experience of the burning of their homes. However, the way in which each poet expresses this occurrence, with the use of different styles of imagery and diction, can change the way the reader interprets the poem. The tone used by each poet is critical because it indicates to the reader their emotions.
Therefore, by comparing these poems by Baca and Bradstreet, it will be evident that the elements of writing – tone, diction, and imagery – are crucial factors that affect the way a reader perceives a poem. By analyzing the tones of these poems, one can see that they are virtually opposite. In Baca’s poem, it is evident from the very beginning that he is setting a tone of utter disbelief and vulnerability. In the first stanza, Baca states how he was numbed” as he turned the corner to his home and braced his body to prepare for the “shock” he would feel. The very second Baca saw his flaming home, he was filled with horror and disbelief. Near the end, when he walks into his room, he falls to his hands and knees and looks through the pile of ashes that once used to be his poems.
This part of the poem symbolizes his falling apart. When he falls to his hands and knees, it shows the extent of his sorrow. While Baca is torn apart, Bradstreet’s tone is ultimately one of acceptance. At first, Bradstreet’s tone is one of grievance and lamenting, but in the middle of the poem, it changes. She states that she shouldn’t grieve over the loss of a home that didn’t belong to her; a home that belonged to the almighty man “that gave and took”. In this quote, she’s referring to God as being all-powerful and that the house has always belonged to him; and that he can give and take as he pleases. Therefore, she’s willing to accept the burning of her home if it’s God’s will.
The imagery in both poems is descriptive and vivid. In the second stanza, Baca describes the busy scene, including the crowd of neighbors and firefighters gathered around the charred husk of our house.” Throughout the chaos, Baca realizes that ten years worth of his poems were lost in the fire. Later in the poem, Baca’s vulnerability is evident as he is alone with his burned home. He provides haunting imagery of the black, charred rooms in his house “brooding in its own black rebellion.” In contrast, Bradstreet is not as materialistic about the objects she lost in her home.
Throughout the poem, Bradstreet writes about the things that went up in flames and that she will no longer have. However, towards the end of the poem, she prevents her heart from breaking. She feels that the only home she needs is the house on high erect, which is built by a person she calls the mighty Architect. Here, she visualizes heaven as the only home she needs. If she keeps her faith and composure, she will one day be able to reach the Treasure that lies above. Bradstreet focuses more on providing images of God, the man who will help her, while Baca focuses more on the burning of his home for his source of imagery. The use of diction and the form of each poem is very different. By reading Baca’s poem, it is obvious that his poem is much more modern than Bradstreet’s.
His reference to a fire engine” and “crackling walkie-talkies” is clear evidence that Baca wrote his poem in a modern era. Additionally, the structure of his poem does not follow a rhyme scheme and does not have a certain amount of lines per stanza, once again showing Baca’s contemporary style. On the other hand, Bradstreet’s “archaic” language and rigid structure show that she wrote her poem in an earlier era. By using words like “lye” or “thee,” she gives the poem an archaic look.
Unlike Baca’s poem, Bradstreet’s poem is structured with rhymed couplets, with six lines in every stanza, and every two lines having rhyming endings. By comparing and contrasting the poems of both authors, it is obvious that their experiences and reactions to the burning of their homes were completely opposite. Baca’s poem was full of sorrow and dejection, while Bradstreet’s emotions showed faith and determination. The main reason for this change could be that these authors lived in different time periods. Bradstreet lived during a Puritanical era in which religion was the central part of life, while Baca lived in a more modern era where materialistic things are of more importance.
Which is why their diction and imagery.