Life is a truly miraculous occurrence. At conception, two cells join, and a human life emerges. Each begins in this way, whether in utero or in vitro. Although the beginning is the same, each life progresses differently with many factors affecting the outcome. Fate plays a role in determining exactly what those factors may be. Most people will have a wide array of experiences throughout life, ranging from positive to negative. At different points in life, one may experience joy or heartache, abundance or need, love or loss. Hayden Carruth and Kay Ryan, authors of “In the Long Hall” and “Turtle” respectively, use symbolism in their poetic verse to paint a picture of life and some of the ways in which it is experienced. Most anyone can relate positive events that have helped fill their lives but can also tell of the negative events that have accompanied the positive during the journey. In the end, however, the most important aspect of each unique, miraculous life-story may not lie in the hand that one is dealt but rather in the spirit or attitude with which that hand is played.
The comparison of “In the Long Hall” and “Turtle” puts one in mind of a “tortoise and hare” scenario. The symbolism utilized by Carruth reminds one of the hare, while Ryan captures the character of the tortoise with her theme. The hare is boastful, fast, and focused on winning, where the tortoise is humble, slow, and focused on the race. Although the hare is quite capable of winning with his speed and agility, his energy is soon expended, and the tenacity of the tortoise is victorious in the end.
Both Carruth and Ryan use symbolism to illustrate the point that life is not always an easy endeavor. At best, life is still difficult. Carruth chooses the symbolism of a weaver weaving a tapestry and the difficulties that are faced in such a task, while Ryan describes the pitfalls and dangers that a turtle must confront in life. Carruth’s weaver deals with “loose ends, broken threads, and a pattern which he [cannot] control” (4-5). The obstacles faced by Ryan’s turtle are much the same. Her life is described as “graceless, like dragging a packing-crate places, and almost any slope defeats her modest hopes” (4-6). In this, both authors perfectly portray the hardships that fate may interject in life that are beyond one’s ability to control. Although this portrayal is quite similar, marked differences are present in these representations as well.
Perhaps due to her choice of the turtle, Ryan seems to depict a slower-paced life more like that of past eras. Life back then also seemed to move at a slower pace. People were required to do more things manually, and gratification was...