Name Professor Course Date The Vanishing Memory of My father The poem,” Eating Alone” by Li-Young Lee is richly crafted in imagery that is used effectively to develop the theme of loneliness and memory. Lee utilized a myriad of literary devices in communicating his message such as imagery, flashbacks, and sarcasms. The interpretation of this poem is essential in unravelling the meanings of different literary devices that Lee employed in this text to develop his theme of memory and loneliness.
The major issue of contention in the interpretation of this poem is the effectiveness of the literary devices used in this poem in developing the theme of memory and loneliness. Lee in his poem of,” Eating Alone” is a practice that is viewed as greed by the society, in which sharing of meals is an accepted act. The picture created of loneliness by Lee is evidenced in the first outlook of the title of the poem, where Lee employees visual imagery on how life after losing his father is, and how he is constantly thinking and missing his deceased father. Moeser 117-119).
The first opening line of the poem clearly gets into the readers mind and eyes with the succinct visual images created,” Tam through with the last bit of last year’s onions. ” This represents the closing of an era and opening to a new era, where the finished onion marks the end of a harvest and ushers in a new era of gardening. Imagery is effectively utilized in the first stanza, shown by the images of the bare garden,”The garden is bare now” with the persona hands in the farewell to the bounty and warmth of the slowly growing season.
The act of gardening depicted in the first stanza symbolises the narrator’s recognition of a passage of time and ushers in the forthcoming warm season that is expected to be of bumper harvest. However, the narrator of the poem seems to be engulfed with sorrow and loss in bidding goodbye the ending season, where is fails to capture things around him with clarity and easily losses focus of them,” What is left of the day flames in the maples at the corner of my eye”.
I believe Lee effectively used the imagery in the construction of the sentence,” I turn, a cardinal vanishes” to depict how fast things had moved marked with the departure of the cardinal. The speedy vanishing of the cardinal is a show of how some aspect of life may seem fast moving that we fail to accept their departure (Moeser 117-119). The cardinal in this context is used symbolically to depict life in which the speaker in the poem looks up to as a sign of life.
Moreover the speaker, in regaining the reassurance of life around him, he scares the cardinal away as a way of acknowledging their presence. Additionally, Lee uses flashback in his poem to develop his theme of memory and loss, in which the speaker in the poem,” Eating Alone” drifts the readers’ attention to years back when he used to walk next to his father. However, imagery pops up again, where Lee draws a beautiful picture of the speaker in the poem wailking besides his father among the windfall pears.
This is an exceptional picture expressed in a beautiful crafted visual imagery, where the speaker and his father are at the centre of attention. The speaker cannot remember sharing a piece of thought with his father but vividly recalls his father leaning down to lift him,” to lift and hold to my eye a rotten pear (Moeser 117-119). The combination of imagery and flashback, effectively develop the theme of memory, in which it is evident that little things matter a lot to our memory and are retained with the loss of bigger things.
The scene is analogy of the how the poem ends, in which the speaker in the poem recalls the presentation of a hornet by his father that stuck in his head, in which in the end of the poem; the hornet can be seen eating alone. Moreover, the use of imagery and foreshadowing is effective in the third stanza in contributing further to the development of the theme of memory and loneliness. The speaker in the poem continues to be engulfed in memory of his father, where he gives an account of seeing his father that morning,” It was my father that I saw this morning waving to me from the trees” (Lee 55).
The speaker seemed unmoved by the incidence but was bold enough to remember having seen the ghost of his father that made him think that the ghost was real to a point of almost reaching out to him,” I almost called to him, until I came close enough to see the shovel , leaning where I had left it” (Lee 55). This incidence was a sign of how the effectiveness of use of imagery that the reader gets carried along the story in the memory of the speaker in the poem.
Nevertheless the combination of the two literary devices, imagery and flashbacking are effectively used together with symbolism of certain feature in the poem that collectively develops the theme of memory and loss. The speaker’s experience of seeing his father must have brought about by incidences that reminded him of his father, that perhaps made him fixated to the past memory of being together with his father. The speaker’s attempts of catching the cardinal in the first stanza of the poem that unfortunately slipped away can be taken as a symbol of his attempts of conjuring his father that was a remainder of the past season.
The cardinal symbolises the image of the speaker’s father that vanishes just in the memory of his ghost father (Bilyak & Lee 600-612). The shovel leaning next to where he had left it, symbolise the past time in which the speaker is fixated in his father’s memory thinking that he is still existing. There is a possibility that the ghost of the speaker’s father being a mirage, in the manner in which the speaker looks at the shovel and thinks that it his father. All these incidences of flashbacks by the speaker illustrate the depth of the speaker’s emotional attachment to his father.
The poem ends with the speaker relishing good moments of harvest out of his labour, but still wishes that his father was there to celebrate the good harvest with him. The speaker can be seen missing his father most during the harvestation period, in which he punctuates the poem by critiquing himself, “And my own loneliness. What more could I, a young man, want” (Lee 55). The poem ends with the speaker rediscovering much about him by learning to eat alone that does not necessarily imply that he is happy with the situation (Dalvean 12).
Moreover, the last two lines of the poem can be viewed as sarcastic remarks, in which the speakers emphasizes on his innocence and youthfulness, in which he wishes his father there to offer guidance and mentorship. However, he pities himself over his memories, in which he feels that he does not deserve the loneliness and the nostalgia feelings that he is enduring (Bilyak & Lee 600-612). What is left of him is food that he cultivates, especially the onions that causes him tears as symbol of heartache and emotions.
He cherishes the time he used to spend time together with his father next to the peat trees and seems that those memories will forever make him alone. Conclusively, the various literary devices employed in this poem, “Eating Alone” have been effective in developing the theme of memory and loneliness. The imagery use throughout the poem has been pivotal to enriching the reader’s attention on the poet’s thematic issues of concern. Additionally, flashbacks have been used in some incidences, for example in the second stanza where the speaker in the poem recalls the memory of his father.
The use of flashback is as well effective in realising the theme of memory and loneliness that Lee wanted to address in his poem, “Eating Alone. ” Moreover, symbolism has been used in some aspect to denote some things that can be used symbolically to refer to certain familiar things with the speaker and different distinctive things to the readers (Dalvean 12). For example the vanishing carnal symbolises the memory of the speaker’s father that he tries to conjure to no avail. All these literary devices, imagery, flashbacks and symbolism effectively develop the theme of loneliness and memory in the poem.