I am going to write about three poems, which I think, go into great detail in describing the place or places where the poem is being set. The reason why I picked these poems is that these poems all are very touching to many peoples feelings as they all give the reader great description of what the places may look or feel like. The poems are “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” by William Wordsworth, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, “The Barn” by Seamus Heaney. The first poem that I am going to examine is “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge”.
William Wordsworth was a Romantic poet. The poem is set in the early morning where there is no hustle, bustle and noise. In this poem Wordsworth has written about London in the nineteenth century. He makes it clear that the sleeping city viewed in the early morning sunlight is as beautiful as that of a natural landscape. He tries to make it clear to us that nothing could compare to this scene and anyone who thinks otherwise is a dull person. At that time London was the centre of Europe, if not the world. In his poetry, he is a poet of primary and natural things.
In lines nine and ten “Never did sun more beautifully steep in his first splendour, valley, rock or hill”. He tries to tell us that the sun never shone more beautifully over the rocks of the country-side than in London and that the city is as beautiful or if not even more beautiful than the country side. He makes it clear that this is a very positive experience of his. In the last few lines, we see the poet’s emotions. “Glittering in the smokeless air” suggests that he can see the whole city clearly and I think this is why he was able to see the beauty of the architecture and be able to write about it in this poem.
As Wordsworth’s poem holds a great deal of atmosphere so does the poem written by Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. This poem is set in woods covered in snow. The character’s location during the poem is between a farmhouse and a frozen lake. The poem is consists of four quatrains. The man in the poem is accompanied by his little horse; apart from the horse, he is totally alone. He makes it clear in line three that he doesn’t want to be seen; this is because he is trespassing on another person’s land. The poem was written around the 21st of December. We get this evidence from line eight; “The darkest evening of the year”.
The woods are dark and deep almost death-like. The poet momentarily toys with the idea of death; he almost has to convince himself that life must go on. I think he may have been considering suicide. Many the elements in the poem point towards death for example the woods would only seem attractive to someone who wants to die because there is no warmth in the woods on a snowy evening. He decides to go on with his busy life and fulfil his human duties. In the last three lines “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep/ and miles to go before I sleep” it seems that he snaps out of his daydream and prepares to go on home.
This is a pretty complex poem as he may not have been in the woods at all. The poet’s descriptions of things in the poem are exceptional. “Of easy wind and downy flake” gives us a clear image of the bitter coldness with flakes of snow falling. This poem has a much more pleasant atmosphere than the last poem. Which seems to hold a lot of bad memories for the author. “The Barn” was written by Seamus Heaney. Heaney’s first collections of poems are about things that have happened to him and around him as a child growing up on a farm. This poem is written in five quatrains.
A barn is a farm building used for a multitude of purposes. The poem is about a fearful childhood experience of his. This fearful experience has stayed with him for some time as he was in his middle twenties when he wrote about it. The atmosphere in this poem is a threatening one. Heaney’s descriptive language of writing in this poem is delightful. He describes the bags of corn as “solid as cement”. “Threshed corn lay piled like grit of ivory or solid as cement in two lugged sacks”. He explains that the corn lies like the grit of ivory meaning that he thinks the corn is lose as grit and the colour of ivory.
The corn either lay loose or in sacks. The sacks are usually made of very tough material. The sacks have two hoops like ears on either side of the sacks and described by Heaney as “lugged”. The place was not pleasant: “chilly concrete”. All the stanzas sum into one other, which is known as enjambment. In line three he mentioned “hoarded” and “armoury”. Hoarded means to store and armoury gives us a sense of war or threat. He makes it clear that inside the barn is very dark, dusty, and clausterfobic. By the end of the third stanza we realise that the barn frightened him as a child.
He refers to the clogging of cobwebs blocking up your lungs and the staring of bats at him as their bright eyes stared into his nightmare. He sees himself being “chaffed”/packed up by the birds mentioned as predators. The fear of the unknown can play on the mind and lead to a nightmare. In this case Seamus Heaney is the victim. A lot of these things that he has had nightmares over are in fact just lifeless objects within the barn. To conclude I personally feel that William Wordsworth has created an atmosphere and has communicated it to us the reader the best. However Frost and Heaney have made very good attempts.