Death in Young Gal’s Blues, One Day I Wrote Her Name, and Song on The End of the World
Death is inevitable. It can inspire, it can cause sadness, and it can cause grief. The poets Langston Hughes, Edmund Spenser and Czelsaw Milosz are able to describe death so beautifully that the reader is consumed by each poem and almost forgets the dark nature of each poem, which is death. The poems by these three poets explore different aspects of death and how it makes one feel. Hughes’ “Young Gal’s Blues” (910) is about a young girl contemplating death, and the fact that she would rather die young than grow old, therefore, the idea of death is explored from the perspective of a young girl. This concept may seem odd, but the way it is presented makes the reader feel at peace with the thought. Spenser’s poem, “One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand” (985), depicts the way a man feels after losing his loved one and the fact that his love for her is still strong even after her death. In Milosz’s poem, “A Song on The End of the World” (1124-1125), he discusses the end of the world. This concept is also about death, except it deals with the demise of all things through the end of the world. Although all of the poems explore the idea of death, it is easy to see that the three poets come from different cultural backgrounds which make the poems unique and effective in their ability to convey their perspectives and their individual motives for writing each piece of poetry.
First, in Hughes’ poem, “Young Gal’s Blues,” he strikes out on a note that immediately makes the reader think about death, “I’m gonna walk to the graveyard,” (line 1). This beginning for the poem lets the reader know the subject matter, death. Hughes’ poem is in the perspective of a young girl who is telling the story of going to visit a grave where her “dear friend Cora Lee” (4) is buried. She then goes “to the po’ house/To see ma old Aunt Chew” (7-8). She describes her Aunt Chew as being old and the young girl would prefer dying to being old and decrepit like her Aunt Chew. In the last stanza, it seems that the young girl is questioning her own father’s love. She seems to feel that her friend Cora Lee’s death is due to a lack of love and her Aunt Chew has grown old and ugly because she is no longer loved. So, she feels that as long as she is loved she will never have to experience the pain in life or death, “Keep on a-lovin’ me, daddy/Cause I don’t want to be blue” (23-24).
The way that Hughes writes allows the reader to feel at ease because he uses a great deal of slang in his poetry, such as, “po’ house,” (13). The reader is also able to get the feeling that the girl is extremely immature because she places vanity over her life. She would rather die than live a life as an elderly, unattractive woman “[. . .] I’d rather be dead than/To be ugly an’ old,” (17-18). It is clear that music and rhythm have had a profound influence on Hughes’ writing. In fact,...