Thursday, July 31, 2008

Content/Literary Analysis of A Poem- On Turning Ten

There are clear cut guidelines that help us composing an analysis (content/literary analysis) of certain poem like who is the speaker in the poem?; what are the observations about the poem’s form?; how does its form contribute to its meaning?; does the poem use any metaphor?; what does it suggest about the poem theme and what is the significant human experience does the poem wishes to illustrate?; sometimes the format as to the size of paper to be used; the spacing for typing,font and length of the analysis paper are prescribed.

“On Turning Ten” is a poem written by Billy Collins. My daughter Yannah (she is 15 years old and in her junior year in High School) enjoyed it not only because it is one of their materials for her English class but she indeed loves analyzing and reacting to things that gives her an object for her mental calisthenics. I noticed lately that she loves to write and she derives pleasure from communicating her thoughts through writing. Here is how she analyzed and interpreted the poem (unedited).

A Smooth Life or a Rough One

Do you still remember the day you turned ten? The very moment you stepped at 4th or 5th grade and started studying the regions of our country and expounded interpretations of nouns, pronouns and verbs? “On Turning Ten”, written in free verse by an award winning poet Billy Collins shares with us the persona’s struggle and unpreparedness with the various changes he is undergoing as he reaches his 10th year and starting anew.

The set of good words that he chose to be part of this poem gave uncommon wisdom and deep strike to the readers’ hearts. His way of expressing the persona’s sentiments by using cases to support the occurrences in his childhood paved way for the readers to visualize and feel his character. Sorted in 5 strophes, he showed his deep objection of leaving childhood’s greatness and entering the 1st year of difficulties.

Started the poem by comparing turning ten to “…something worse/than any stomach ache/or the headaches I get/from reading in bad light…” showed the persona’s heartbreaking perspective towards the whole idea of facing a new and more exploring-making chapter in his life. Using “flashback” as technique, it brought us to how good life was to him during his first years of vitality. But as he encounters the 10th year and the deeper side of his whole existence, he then said to himself “This/is/the beginning of sadness”. It evokes his dilemma and questioning of why we have to have our own share of ups and downs and not just happy-happy-joy-joy and are obliged to forget about the happy and silly life we have been get used to.

In the other way, come to think of it, haven’t we all dreamt of just being a kid forever? When we all just have to fool around and forget all the problems we are facing? When all we have to do is cry when we bleed and just wait for somebody to stand us up? It is like we are in between smooth and rough. If you were to choose, what do you prefer? A smooth life as a kid--that all you have to do is go with the flow and eat candies or a rough life as an adult— with piles of work, deadlines and creating your own destiny? We’ve got only one life. We must treasure every bit of it. Cause really, we can never turn back time.

I posted this because I’d like to give everyone the experience of going into deep thoughts, the experience of wanting to read something that you don’t know what --because reading is an ultimate prelude of your enthusiasm to discover something. I intentionally refrain from posting the poem for a reason that is to encourage everyone to give reading a try, look for your own material that interests you; and the feeling of longing and searching for something you want to read is a signal that you want to enrich your knowledge and discover something new today. The point I want to stress is that, for you to feel the need to read, internalize the necessity to look for something beneficial to venture into. I would be happy to know that after going through my daughter’s interpretation of this poem, many of you will try to look for this material or something else to read and ponder with.

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