War Vs. Art: The Significance Of Fighting Before Fiddling In Creating The Peace

897 words - 4 pages

In the poem "First fight. Then fiddle." Gwendolyn Brooks argues for the necessity of brutal war in order to create a space for the pursuit of beautiful art. She uses Petrarchan sonnet structure and a conflicting, controversial turn to keep reader's close attention, create lyrical quality and influence the reader through her message. It is a wonderful example of a sonnet that follows the traditional rules, while adding a bit of a modern twist to it. Her message is simple but it is conveyed in a very original way that it stands out and grabs your attention. Throughout the sonnet the author uses alliteration, assonance and consonance making a sonnet itself a metaphor for artistic creation.
In the poem, the author uses structure of the sonnet as well as patterns and rhyme to join the external form of the Petrarchan sonnet with the theme and tone. Brook's poem does not exactly follow the pattern we are used to which makes the reader follow every line closely for examination. Using a structured rhyme pattern to describe such a serious tone gives the sonnet a punchy feeling, simulating violence or pinch of strings in violin. Words like string, sing, hate, late, note, wrote, space, grace and many others all rhyme only using the last syllable, making them masculine. Also it draws attention to the ends of the lines which (the first four) she all ends with words related to music, furthering the theme of the poem. She also uses Petrarchan sonnet scheme to give the poem a lyrical quality emphasizing one of the themes of musical instruments in it. Finally, the poem is full of symbolism and imagery creating a strong connection between the way it is written and the message it carries.
In her poem, Brooks seems to paradoxically argue two different themes to create an artwork that by its very recognition of art's costs would prove itself. Her message seems very simple and clear and is stated in the first lines of the sonnet, yet easily misunderstood. Initially it seems to show the necessity of war to create a safe space for artistic creation. She suggests that playing the violin would be a foolish distraction if an enemy were threatening one's safety and fighting the war first would prepare a safe and prosperous place where one could reasonably pursue the pleasure of art, or in her words one has to "civilise a space wherein to play your violin with grace." Yet the poem is more complex than just that because it also implies both that war cannot protect art and that art should not justify war. The author seems to divide sonnet into two distinct parts....

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