Analysis of the poem 'Lost Heritage', written by Heather Buck

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The poem ‘Lost Heritage’, written by Heather Buck is concerned with the forgotten past, our lost heritage. In this free verse poem the speaker preaches that in today’s generation we have lost our touch with the past. Today’s children are blind to the importance and significance of our past, our heritage because it is failed to be taught and provided. The speaker’s realization that children of the modern day world are deprived the knowledge of the intricate and colorful past is explored in this poem. The speakers sullen tone, dark imagery and the constant theme of lost Buck is able to emphasize the connection that has been lost between the present day and our heritage, and how he this disturbs him.

The first stanza brings in the in the main theme, what the speaker is preaching about, the importance and significance of our heritage. Bucks appreciation of the past is set-up through the extended metaphor of carpets in this first stanza, which continues throughout the poem.

This metaphor is established to represent our past our heritage, through this extended metaphor Buck attempts to emphasize the significance and importance of our heritage. The opening line "Coreopsis, saffron, madder, daily we tread kaleidoscopes of color, on Persian rugs we set our feet" indicates the speakers view on our past, a colorful and bright heritage. The importance of the past is also realized by the speaker, he/she believes that our heritage influences our lives significantly, “The intricate patterns that shape our lives”. The first stanza is mainly concerned with the beauty and importance of human heritage, however Buck already here introduces wrongdoings that we are doing beauty. This idea is casually hinted in the second stanza with the simple usage of ‘tread’. The disrespect that we have for this beautiful past, which we tread all over is continued to be developed as the poem continues. Blind to the woven threads and dyes’ (line 4). The word blind, referring to the metaphor of carpets, shows how in this generation we are blind to our heritage; we do not realize or appreciate its significance in our world.

The beauty and significance of the past described in stanza one is shown to be unappreciated as the poem continues, “We inherit more then we know from the dust and bones”. This message from the speaker is further stressed in the description of the dead ‘those lying under the Churchyard’s stones’, our past our hertiage. The speaker believes that our heritage is a colorful important part in our lives as described in the first stanza, however no such appreciation and admiration is depicted in the second and third stanza. The dead are portrayed with a dark gloomy aura, and the carpets portraying the image of the dead are similar, “An uneasy marriage, for the oak beams long ago bent to the flailings of heat, cold and rain”. The description the dead our heritage sharply contrasts what was seen in stanza one, and is used by Buck to show the actual way the past in appreciated in our modern day society.

The forgotten gloomy past as view by today’s generation is further depicted in stanza three. The very first line of this stanza is a hypothetical question “Was the child with hands outstretched to the blaze less constrained”. This hypothetical question is used, as it provides an answer, that today’s children would be less constrained if they were able to grasp their heritage, represented by the ‘blaze’ in line 22. Onwards from the ‘blaze’ used to describe our history, they should be colorful past is sharply contrasted with the memories of the past that are still present. The imagery of a young girl’s world contrasts greatly to the ‘blaze’ of the past, which is believed by the author that should be there. This stanza gives as sense that something is approaching, an event, this is aided by the personification in lines 26 and 27, “The air quickened and the windows gathered the sunlight in”. The repetition of negative diction is important, as it highlights the aura that the upcoming event is producing. This depressing tone associated with the approaching even aided by negative diction as ‘trampled earth’ and ‘cold bitter springs’ aids to the dark and gloomy tone Buck attempts to portray. The reader finally realizes the forthcoming event with the last words of the stanza, “Whitsun-tide fair”. All this gloomy build-up is revealed to be for a public holiday, a holiday associated with the festival of the Christian Church, a festival celebrating the past. This connection contrasts sharply with the depiction of the carpets in Stanza 1, and answers the question that the child outstretched searching for the past the heritage is really less constrained, as he is searching for that blaze that is so clearly described in stanza 1.

In stanza four Buck continues with the imagery of a young girl to show the failure of the past and present connection on today’s generation of children. The ‘Young child is lost in a forest of towering adults’. Instead of providing what they should be doing the “strangle of branches" and the "tongues unload fear at their feet". The vivid description of the past makes the modern day more sinister. It is tragic that the children are not inheriting the beauty as they had done in the past. This failure is a cycle, as was represented in line 31, "Whispers and laughter of serving-maids braiding their hair". It is a cycle that keeps on turning, and at each turn, the world and children of that cycle are deprived of their heritage.

Through the use of imagery aided by literary techniques, a constant theme that is preached throughout the poem, Buck is able to portray her desired message to the reader. In Today’s world Buck believes that children of the present are deprived of the knowledge of the intricate, colorful past, thus losing heritage. The failure of generations to pass down heritage to children causes them to lose something very important that only the past, their heritage can provide for them.