Home » Poetry » The poems “Decorated for a Kiss” by Ian McDonald and “Alone” by Walter de la Mare

The poems “Decorated for a Kiss” by Ian McDonald and “Alone” by Walter de la Mare

Love can exist in a broad diversity of forms and feelings. The poems “Decorated for a Kiss” by Ian McDonald and “Alone” by Walter de la Mare emphasise this. Whilst the poem “Decorated for a Kiss” is obviously the description of unspoiled love blossoming, in which a man is coming to his woman for love, bearing the gift of red petals. The poem “Alone” provides a sharp contrast in that the focus is a dejected person whom has lost a loved one through death. It demonstrates how abruptly happiness can die out – just as the persons’ lover passes away in the poem.

The theme of the poem “Decorated for a Kiss” is the newfound love and the ontrasting experiences between the men-friends and the man who comes to his woman for love. It appears to depict the men-friends experience as short, sharp and unsatisfying. The poem conveys this in the line ” Come, man, come fish shark, strong white shark,” and in the proceeding line “At midnight come fish golden snapper along the warm black rocks. ” These lines give the impression that the men-friends are the sharks and that they come out at night to ‘snap up’ women.

The fact that the lines do not appear to make much sense and do not fit the rest of the poem seems to suggest that the men’s experience makes no sense either. In comparison, the poem “Alone” conveys the theme of love surviving death because even though the person’s lover is dead, their love for them still burns brightly on. The poem is set in winter as can be told by the line “It is winter” but also by the lines “Flowered frost congeals in the gelid air” and in “The fox howls from his frozen lair” once again the only season bitter enough for ice and snow is winter.

Winter symbolises death and I am inclined to believe that this was the poet’s reason for choosing this season as a foundation for the poem. “Alone” is an intense poem with the prevailing atmosphere of death and loss. The stark and futuristic images created portray this. In the line “Come moth, come shadow, the world is dead” it seems to suggest that now the persons lover is gone that their life is not worth living either, and that they want to rejoin their lover.

However “Decorated for a Kiss” appears also to be a very intense poem but very romantic and sensual in comparison to the poem “Alone. ” The poem “Decorated for a Kiss” also implies that is a perhaps set not in Britain but abroad in a more romantic location. This can be told from the exotic items such as the palm wine, the green calabash, the scent of the sun-dried khus-khus grass and also by he animals like the green lizards and the colourful dragonflies- most of which can not commonly be found in places with similar positioning and climate to England.

The poem is extremely sensual and appeals to all the senses. For example, the line “The scent of sun-dried khus-khus grass” appeals extremely strongly to our sense of smell, whilst the line “Come fish golden snapper along the warm black rocks” appeals equally strongly to the senses of touch and sight. When in the first line it indicates that the man has bothered to come to the woman himself and to bring the gift of red rose petals ” I come to her ouse for love with a basket of red petals” shows that he has prepared for the evening.

Furthermore, throughout the poem it shows how well the woman has prepared, the line “She has washed her mouth with milk” and the line “The sweet fibres she has put between the linen since midday” show how much care and effort she has put into making sure the evening is perfect. In addition, the fact that she has put the linen in the bed obviously means that she expects something to happen later in the evening. “Decorated for a Kiss” is very well written. It is not a story yet it implies with subtlety the little things happening without becoming explicit.

The poem demonstrates a natural growth and progression. Reading between the lines you can discover that although they are first just eating the plums and drinking the palm wine that they do kiss and get extremely close because the man can taste the bay leaves on the woman’s lips and can smell the sweet fibres in the bed. This meaning that they must now be in the bedroom- most probably in bed together. The main feeling is passion though, and we can sense the passion through the plums, scarlet leather and the flickering, darting green lizards.

Returning to “Alone” by Walter de la Mare it is easily perceivable that here is no passion remaining here. Even the title of the poem “Alone” reflects the upset and hurt this person is going through. The star consolation Orion (the hunter) is mentioned in the third stanza. Because Orion is a hunter, I believe that this person thinks that Orion and the heavens hunted down their loved one and took them from them. When in the first line it states, “The abode of the nightingale is bare” it is comparing how empty the persons abode (home) is without their loved one but how full of happy memories it is.

This only serves to make the person even more depressed and upset as they have realised that there will be no more emories to add. The poem “Decorated for a Kiss” is told from the perspective of the man whom comes to his woman for love. In one section of the poem he also reveals his men-friends opinions “Men-friends tell me what a fool to go to the girl, Come, man, come fish shark, strong white shark” , in that they want him to come clubbing with them but the man, feeling the satisfaction of a meaningful relationship, refuses the invitation and does not accompany his friends to clubs to have short, sharp sexual experiences.

When it states, “At midnight come fish golden snapper along the warm black rocks” t is grammatically different to the rest of the poem which, in a sense proves the poet right. In the poem “Alone” it is much harder to distinguish whether it told by a man or a woman as there is no grammar in the poem which implies that it was told from the perspective of a women or a man – we cannot tell the gender of the person from whose perspective, the poem is told. Perhaps indicating that we all feel the same when we lose a loved one.

There are no other voices but the howl of the fox is mentioned- perhaps implying that everything the person sees seems to be in distress or cold like themselves and their heart. The structures of the two poems “Decorated for a Kiss” and “Alone” are evidently diverse from one another. “Decorated for a Kiss” is written in one stanza with lines of unequal length. It is written in free verse and it conveys no regular rhyme or rhythm as these would hasten the poem and make it jerky. This would ruin the poet’s intentions as the poem is supposed to be soft and flowing – like love itself.

However, the poem “Alone” does have a regular rhyming pattern. “Alone” is written in rhyming triplets for the first three lines and repeats the last three lines on every stanza. Alas, my loved one is gone, I am alone: It is winter. ” Similarly, “Alone” also carries no regular rhythmic pattern; this would upset the atmosphere and make it sound joyful when in reality, the poems’ affairs are bitterness and hurt. Both poems contain many examples of symbols and imagery. Throughout the poem “Decorated for a Kiss,” there is imagery and special meanings for the usage of colour.

When it mentions “Green Lizards run in her eyes” she does not obviously, actually have lizards in her eyes, but it is symbol of oriental beauty, of nature and the quick darting movements of the lizard symbolise unpredictability. The one other insect mentioned in this poem is a dragonfly “Her dress is patterned with blue dragon flies” symbolises that not only is she different, but that she is exotic and colourful and that everything about her is perfect. Dragonflies are fascinating creatures, they can dart quickly or stay perfectly still and hover, and once again, this is symbolic of the womans movements.

The “sun-dried khus-khus grass” is also symbolism. Here, the poet is comparing the naturally sun dried khus-khus grass to the natural scents and ingredients such as bay leaves the woman has used on herself. It could also be a signal that the fruit is ipe- the fruit being symbolic of the romance. In comparison, far from being exotic and exultant the poem “Alone” uses symbolism to concentrate on the loss and the unhappiness of the person involved.

The repeated phrase “I am alone, it is winter. is symbolically speaking of the death as the winter (death is often associated with winter. ) Also the line “Starry Orion hunts o’erhead” is symbolism because it is describing how starry Orion hunted down and killed their loved one, even though this could not have happened since Orion is not real- merely a consolation of stars. Last of all the following three phrases “Once the ink cast a winy smell”, “The wild bee hung in the hyacinth bell” and “Light in effulgence of beauty fell” are all symbolically describing what was once there, that is not there anymore.

It is saying that the pretty flowers have wilted away and died, the wild bee has disappeared along with the hyacinth bell and the beautiful light does not cascade down anymore- the person’s life is filled with darkness. Whether this is because it is winter or because the person is too depressed to notice the happy things in life, I am unable to tell. . When used effectively colour can become very meaningful. In “Alone” the oet does not use colour as much as in “Decorated for a Kiss” where the poet continually uses colour to symbolise details.

The basket of red petals symbolises love, as that is traditionally for what red is known. In one line it ends with “warm black rocks” – this makes this part of the poem seem shadowy, shark and futuristic (like in “Alone”) as it also compares the man to a white shark – very black and white and blank. The blue dragonflies in “Decorated for a Kiss” emphasise mystery, subtlety and sophistication. The blue could also either be cold or calm meaning that there is more to her than what is on the surface. The scarlet items in the poem, the gourd and the plums represent passion.

When in the last line he is offered plums and palm wine I feel that she is also offering herself because the skin and flesh of a plum is much like that of a human. The green calabash and the green lizards are also symbolic. These are supposed to describe the lady as natural, not heavily made-up, ripe and wholesome. They also seem exotic, thus setting the scene in an exotic location. The line “She has washed her mouth with milk” which is white and white has over time, been established as representing peace, purity and newborn (perhaps in this instance a baby. There is some use of colour in “Alone” however.

It refers to the line “Come moth, come shadow, the world is dead” as the persons darkness over losing their loved one- the darkness and the night is the suppressed emotion that the person is feeling. Finally, “Once the pink cast a winy smell” meaning the pink flowers which have wilted and died. The pink is reflecting on the beauty of those flowers and comparing it to how beautiful the persons loved one was. There are very few metaphors and no similes in either poem. However, in “Decorated for a Kiss” there is just one extremely important metaphor in line three.

Here it says, “Come, man, come fish shark, strong white shark” this is metaphorically comparing the men-friends to power hungry sharks who devour little fishes. The men are the sharks and their food is the short, sharp sexual experiences that they gain with the fishes- the women. In comparison “Alone” also has one metaphor. It is situated in the third stanza where it states “Starry Orion hunts o’erhead” this is saying that the consolation of Orion is the disease or illness that hunted down the persons loved one and killed them, although obviously this cannot be as Orion is formed only from the positions of stars in the sky.

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