Monday, December 16, 2013

Death as Metaphor 6

As was previously mentioned on the October 21, 2013 post Death as Metaphor 5, Charles Darwin had a theory for evolution. In his studies, we see how writing is finding new meaning just like the learning of different species and as humans evolved, so has the mode of communication.

Music, language, art, writing, and poetry are some of these ways. They are symbolic of ideas we want communicated. Most of the time, the changes are useful and influence other forms. For example, poetry has changed in its form throughout time. We are changing ways to represent meaning as Denise Levertov wrote in “Some Notes on Organic Forms” (1965) (

Everything has an organic form that the poet tries to reveal and discover, whether it be emotional experiences or sensory forms. These differences are seen in poems that reveal how we deal with death. Death may be represented as an actual event or a symbol for a loss of something important. Death’s meaning changes as it is used for many purposes in a poet’s writing.

Charles Darwin’s great-great granddaughter, Ruth Padel, wrote a poetic biography about Darwin’s life and thoughts in “A Childhood Remembered.” She says that “poetry is fierce, precise, and exact. It is not vague or loose or witty.” This explanation plays an important role in what Padel was trying to accomplish with writing Darwin’s life in the form of poetry. Poetry has a way to get the reader to react emotionally. Her explanation also answers the need for poets to write about death. It is the emotional expression that evokes a reaction from the reader that allows for such writing. As time moves on, so does the multiple meanings attached to death.

Padel reads some of her Darwin poems at http//

Everything is evolving around us- even Death is an inevitable change. Darwin’s curiosity about life evolving and adapting over time influenced his theory of evolution. His theory also helps us understand the changes we go through in our lives or how we adapt to someone’s death. Similarly, Adrienne Rich wrote in 1971 in her poem, “Planetarium” line 26 and 27 ( “What we see, we see [line break] and seeing is changing.”

As such, Death means many things and it goes through changes as it is used for many purposes in a poet’s writing.

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