Poems ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph and ‘Lore’ by R.S Thomas

‘Lore’ is a verse in which an old man is convincing us that old age will not drag him down.

Within each stanza ‘Job’ speaks about his life and tries to persuade us that he is not affected by old age. – “It will take more than the rain’s hearse, wind-drawn to pull me off the great perch of my laugh.” In the first stanza it is though someone else is talking, they introduce “Job Davies, eighty-five” and tell us how he has survived the “slow poison and the treachery of the seasons.” This portrays Job in a positive way, as a survivor of the winter months. However, it doesn’t comment on his happiness or his state of mind, which is conveyed in the following stanzas in which Job himself speaks.

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The language in the second stanza changes tone fairly abruptly. It goes from a quite flowing, informative introduction to abrupt and argumentative: “Miserable? Kick my ass!” This line has quite large impact on the reader and gives the poem a bit of humour. Throughout the poem R.S Thomas uses lovely, yet unfamiliar words such as “hearse” and “paunch” In some places these have been used to keep the rhyme, which takes place in pairs of lines. The word “paunch” meaning ‘fat stomach’ is used to create alliteration: Paunch full of hot Porridge. This makes the line roll off the tongue really nicely. The last verse in this poem is my favourite, however it is quite difficult to determine its meaning “Stay green, never mind the machine” perhaps this commenting on the evolution of modern day technology, perhaps he is telling himself to “stay green” – stay natural. But this line could also apply to old age – stay young, keep going. The poem ends with a lovely line “Live large, man, and dream small”

I feel that this poem is a reflection on life and old age which is revolving around the theme of reluctance to grow old. I think that perhaps R.S Thomas has based this on someone he knew such as a friend or maybe even a father.

Another poem, which follows a similar theme but formed with a different style, is “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. This is a monologue about a woman who is describing how she wants to be when she grows old. She incorporates many stereotypical factors of old age mixed with wishes to be eccentric and escape societies expectations.

The language throughout the verse is colloquial, non formal and humorous. We continually get a sense that Jenny Joseph wants to escape the expectations of her adult life and all the familiar clich�s such as “set a good example” and “read the papers” Instead, she wants act almost childlike – “I shall pick flowers from other peoples gardens and learn to spit.” These sort of rebellious acts are the opposite to the expectations of a typical old aged person. “Warning” suggests the paradox that old age is like childhood – you become dependent again. One line within the poem merges both a stereotypical factor of old age with a childlike mannerism – “Run my stick along the public railings”. Another example of this is when she talks about collecting pens and pencils – this is something that both children and the elderly do.

I feel that Warning is a very humorous, warming poem, which reflects on old age in a very positive way. However I feel that beneath the colloquial exterior, Jenny Joseph hints at a slight bitterness towards her present role as a responsible adult and the serious “sobriety of her youth”. Perhaps she feels she needs to make up for this “sobriety” by enjoying her old age.

In comparison to ‘Lore’ I think that ‘Warning’ is generally a more humorous and original poem. However there is some lovely use of language in ‘Lore’ and the poem produces very nice imagery. I think that the man in which ‘Lore’ features has a different approach to old age as Jenny Joseph in warning. I feel that the man in ‘Lore’ wants to stay the same, he doesn’t want anything to change just because he is old; he speaks about cutting the grass, “Rhythm of the long scythe kept this tall frame lithe” Whereas in ‘Warning’ you can see that she wants everything to be different as soon as she becomes old – “When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple”.

The use of Rhyme in ‘Lore’ makes the verse a lot more poetic in comparison to ‘Warning’, which incorporates no rhyme. Although the two poems have many differences I feel that both follow the same theme – that old age will not stand in their way. Both poems reflect on past life, however I feel that Warning is mostly about looking to the future and has a more positive outlook. ‘Lore’ speaks about the present and there is a sense of unhappiness and loneliness. My favourite of the two poems is ‘Warning’ this is because its very humorous and I find it easier to relate to.

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