Description: The Key to Connection

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Part of Elizabeth Bishop's unique strength as a poet is her ability to compose pieces that are simple and yet draw the audience into the experience she is trying to describe. In "Armadillo," the audience can both see what she is describing and feel it. In the line "the paper chambers flush and fill with light/ that comes and goes, like hearts" we can see what is happening in our mind's eye and feel the excitement as if we were really there. She employs the same simple yet effective description in "Filling Station." Her words and stanzas are simple, but when the audience reads or hears the final lines "ESSO - SO - SO- SO/ to high-strung automobiles./ Somebody loves us all" they can hear the sounds, feel the emotions, and picture the gas station clearly in their minds eye. Robert Lowell enables his audience to relate to his poetry in much the same way. He uses strong descriptive phrases that enable the reader to connect on a basic sensory level with his poem. Interestingly, Lowell struggled with alcoholism throughout his adulthood like many other poets during that time, yet "The Drinker" is a reflection of the destructive nature of alcohol. The phrase "killing time" is repeated at the beginning and the end. He also references time and its effects on metal such as "The barbed hooks fester." and "even corroded metal somehow functions." Robert Lowell, battling alcoholism, is comparing the destruction of metal by time to the slow destructive of the body and soul by alcohol. It is sad that though he obviously knows it is destroying him, Lowell is addicted.



Alicia Campbell said:

I'm glad you chose to take a look at "The Drinker". I knew I liked this poem, but even after reading it several times, I did not really know what to make of it, but your interpretation makes sense. The comparison to corroding metal is genius because the destruction is slow and requires continual contact. And that is the sad thing about addiction: you want to stop, but cannot, and you continue to use despite your knowledge of the effects. Lowell even speaks of beseeching freedom" in this poem. So Lowell is both killing time and himself...or really he is killing himself and time because the former is a slow process.

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