“A Brief for the Defense”
In Defense of Atheism
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“A Brief for the Defense” is a very emotionally charged piece with a great deal of intense imagery contained within it. The poem is written in such a way that draws in readers, because the word “we” is used throughout. We, as readers then are made to feel as if we are part of the same world as the author. The world that the author writes of is one of sorrow and struggle. Words like “slaughter”, “suffering”, and “starving” are used to gain the reader’s attention and to evoke a response of horror in the environment in which the author is in, phrases later reveal this place to be India. The words “God” “Lord” and “Devil” are used to make the reader understand that this poem is about the irony of accepting religion while also accepting suffering. It would be fair to say that this is an anti-religious or pro-atheist poem.
The piece begins with the lines;
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
This poem does not build momentum as it goes on, but starts of in a shocking way. The words and phrases used remain strong throughout and the tone of the work does not soften at all as it unravels. Instead the reader becomes woven into the piece as the intention of the words and phrases become more clear. As the opening lines suggest, even as children are starving, we must all be happy because our God commands it.
More than halfway through the poem, another set of sentences reveal that if we complain about the problems of the world that we are letting the Devil win and that no mater how much we suffer, we must all focus on how magnificent heaven is. The poem ends with the same type of point of view, that we all must think that our years of suffering are worth what the end of our life will offer us.
I believe that this author has a very negative view of religion, as many people do. Even though the setting of the piece is in India, this type of thinking displayed by the author can be found everywhere, though the writer is very extreme in the words used and the thoughts presented. This poem makes me think that just as there are people, who are extremist in their views on believing in religion to a dangerous point, there are also people, who are extreme in despising religion too. Either one of the two opposites are unhealthy in the world. Instead, when a person tries to stay in the middle of these two extremes, they will not see and speak of so much misery.
Hyung Jun Ko
March 10th 2009
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII:
The Power of Passion
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII is a short poem about the value of a person following their dreams and their passions. Lively words are used to describe the feeling that comes with following pursuits that are possibly looked at as dreams and not normal careers.
The poem is very inspirational and seems to be directed to more artistic readers. It may be, though, that all people can relate to having a desire to do exciting work in their life to not be bored and stuck in a mundane life. It is possible too that this poem is stating that everyone should find joy in what they do with their lives and that it feels great to finish what is started.
The poem not only seeks to be an inspiration to people in their lives and the choices that a person makes with what to do in their time on earth, but also it warns of what it is like to be bored and unfulfilled. In the middle of the poem comes the lines;
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Not only do these phrases talk about how gray and numbing a mediocre life is, but also how a person can become hardened by the world if they do not enjoy their life. Lives like this can be shattered easily because there is no passion and no happiness. The only way to be truly happy is to be like the wind and to not be afraid of the changes of our lives. Also, we should not be scared like little children, but be excited to be daring in our choices.
I like this poem very much and think that it is true that people become bored when they try to live a simple life. Although this poem may make more sense to artistic people, there are exciting things for everyone to do and the alternative to not finding happiness is a hardened life that can be easily shattered. Everyone has dreams and no one should be afraid of trying to achieve them and with every dream we have and achieve, we should strive to find more to do with our time. Being in school is an example of something that many people I know take for granted and do not enjoy. The part in the poem where it says that knowledge is important to have does make sense to me as I am learning. I do enjoy it and look forward to the end of my education, as it will be the beginning of my life.