Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog Post 2: Poems and Service

The poems, “The Flea”, “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”, “Fox Trot Fridays”, and “Memorandum”, all depict poems with unique styles of motifs, rhythmic patterns, mood, and tone. The four poems have a distinct narrator, each with their own perspectives on life and choices people make. Love and relationships are constantly portrayed in the media, both in positive and negative lights. Through service, I have learned to develop relationships with people, as well as learn about the relationships the people have with God, their family, and their peers.

In “The Flea”, the title refers to the state of dependency and care for another person. Similar to a flea, this person can only live fully with reciprocated love. In “The Flea”, John Donne presents his style with a unique spacing technique. The 3 lines after each stanza are indented. These indented stanzas are the “main points” of his poem, portraying each stage in a person’s life. The first stage is that of infatuation, dating, and marriage. The second stage is that of betrayal, lies, and divorce. The third stage of this life is acceptance and moving on. The other three poems also depict stages, perspectives, and aspects of relationships and love. In “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”, by John Donne, the theme of separation and anxiety, similar to that in “The Flea”, is also portrayed in this poem, but in a different way. While “The Flea” portrays separation in a way of heartbreak and betrayal, Donne portrays separation as a sad goodbye. As stated in the critical thinking questions after the poem, Donne wrote this poem as a goodbye to his wife as she left for France. Although the two were separated, they were still married, together, and happy. The separation is only temporary. Donne realizes that although separation is natural, if a relationship is filled with love and is pure, time will ultimately bring the two back together. Compared to Donne’s other poem, which depicts love as a source of connection and dependency, this poem portrays love in a more positive light. Another poem, “Fox Trot Fridays” by Rita Dove, compares love to a dance, specifically, the fox trot. To Dove, love and a healthy relationship is in tune with music, rhythm, and a strong partnership. “Fox Trot Fridays” has a unique rhythm and structure, with each stanza pertaining of two lines each. In addition to this, there are references to music and dancing, such as Nat King Cole, as well as certain words known to dancers and movements, such as “heel-ball-toe” (Dove 6). These references make the connection of love and a ballroom dance stronger. The narrator’s perspective on love is entirely different than the narrator’s of the other two poems. This uplifting and positive portrayal of love and relationships provides the contrast needed to make accurate comparisons between the four poems. The fourth and final poem, “Memorandum” by Billie Bolton, is similar to “Fox Trot Fridays” in that the narrator’s perspective and tone is on the far end of the spectrum. While “Fox Trot Fridays” depicts love in a positive light, “Memorandum” focuses on a break-up and betrayal while emphasizing the man’s flaws, thus portraying love in a negative way. Bolton describes love, and falling out of love, solely through their partner’s obnoxious and annoying qualities. While insightful, its harsh and blunt tone causes readers to wonder what caused this perspective on love in the first place. Also unique amongst the four poems, its structure is similar to an e-mail containing a numbered list, followed by full-length sentences. This gives the poem a less-structured feel, which helps emphasize the informality of tone and sentence structure. This poem is the most raw, and sometimes, relatable.

Relationships are something that each person will experience and can relate to throughout their lives. Through service, I have been able to develop relationships with certain people that I would never have met before. In the first semester, I chose to be involved with the Community Service Council, which allows students to participate in one-time service opportunities. I also participated in the pre-orientation program, S.O.S. In particular, through my service that I did at S.O.S., I can draw connections with the relationships that I have made or been told about with the four different perspectives of love and relationships that were depicted in the four poems we had to read for this week. On the second day of S.O.S., we did Care-A-Van, both making the sandwiches and delivering them downtown. When we were downtown, I met a man named Jeff. Jeff was very quiet, and at first, hard to communicate with. He told us about his relationship with his family, which is strained because of his homelessness. He believes in the end, he will be reunited with his family. This is similar to the perspective on love and relationships that is portrayed in “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”. Like in the poem, Jeff believed that if his love for his family was strong enough, they would love him under any circumstance and he would find his way home in the end. Jeff also told me about his strong connection with God. He said what helped him survive the day and believe in his family was praying. Similar to the perspective portrayed in “Fox Trot Fridays”, Jeff’s faith and love was unconditional. However, Jeff also depended on his faith for his survival. This dependency on looking forward to a reunion with his family, as well as his love for God, is similar to the perspective of relationships being a source of dependency in “The Flea”.

On Sunday, my suitemate and I went to Beans and Bread for The Last Sunday. Throughout the meal service, I interacted with a variety of different people. I listened to many different stories. At least two different men told me about their family and their strained relationships with them. Unlike Jeff, their relationships were so strained with their parents and children, that there was a sense of resent and hatred. They talked about how disgusted they were with their parents and that they didn’t want to see them again. This sense of hatred is similar to the perspective of love that was portrayed in “Memorandum”.

Love and relationships is something universal that everyone can relate to. Reading these four poems allows me to see each way a relationship can be looked at. By looking at how a person views love and their relationships, it also gives a lot of insight to the person and how they think. In the end, relationships are a part of human nature. I really find it interesting when I talk with the people I am serving and hear about their lives. It’s always a great thing to see where a person comes from and how they were raised, as well as their current hopes and dreams for the future. I believe that service is the best way to do this because I meet so many people from different lifestyles and backgrounds that I really get to learn about the lives of many different people.

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