Monday, February 24, 2014

Death as Metaphor 8

Poets have tried to address and respond to death through time.  

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (1995), Death is defined as:

  • the end of the life of a person or animal
  • a symbol for a creature that looks like a skeleton that may be the sign of death and destruction
  • a word used to heighten feelings of fright, boredom, sadness, sickness, or worry
  • or to not want to do something: “I’d rather die than eat a worm!” 
These definitions are malleable and lend themselves to varied metaphors associated with death. For example, “you can catch your death of cold” or “I am scared to death” or “the rabbit is gone” all play up to the word death.

This has made it easy for writers, artists, and poets alike to utilize death as a metaphor. Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Daddy,”(  presents death as anger toward the parent.

By contrast, Carolyn Forché’s poem, “The Colonel,” ( takes a different look at death as something sanctioned by those in power, turning death to a man-made inevitability in which one must fight.


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