In The Eyes Of The Beholder

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In The Eyes of The Beholder The poems, "The Rose" by Antonio Vallone and "Song" by Edmund Waller are both symbolic poems, and they employ the rose as a poetic device to represent love and beauty. Poems that employ symbolism often need the reader to interpret the symbols in relation to the author's life and work. No doubt, one needn't do so, as poems are often meant to elicit a response from a reader, who projects his or her experiences and expectations on to the author's work. Therefore, a strict interpretation of a poem that employs extensive symbolism is not necessary. Nevertheless, when comparing the works of two poets, it is important to compare their work and look for common recurring themes. These themes give us clues regarding the meaning of certain symbols that a poet uses in his poems. The bulk of Waller's work reflects how worldly concerns had dominated his long career as a Poet.

"Song" and "A Panegyric to My Lord Protector" are merely the most well known of his many poems praising beautiful women or powerful men. Towards the end of his career, Waller began to write sacred poetry, but over all his poems talk more about beauty and earthly love than about spirituality, etc. Vallone, like Waller, writes about topics that about a century ago were taboo. Vallone's poem "John Dillinger's Penis" is an example of such poetry. Other poems like "Mexican Switchblades" and "Why Poets Want to be Rock Stars" show the importance Vallone places on everyday experiences.

"Song" and "The Rose" are based on direct sensory experiences where the poet either describes his feelings (as in "Song") or the beauty he sees in front of him (as in "The Rose). The poem "Song" is dedicated to the poet's lover, wherein the poet tries to tell his object of affection/desire, that beauty is worthless without anyone to admire it. Furthermore, he adds that beauty like the rose is transitory and will perish soon. In other words, the poet wants the woman of his dreams to accept his advances and live life to the fullest while she is still alive. "The Rose" on the other hand, is a poem that is completely symbolic in nature, in the sense that, it talks about a rose plant and how the rose bud blooms and radiates its beauty. The rose plant, that was once full of thorns, begins to bask in the radiant beauty of the rose flower. Vallone describes the birth of the rose bud as a miracle, one that can only be understood by bumblebees and hummingbirds. Again, the poet uses symbolism to say that beauty and innocence are abstract ideas till one experiences them.

The themes of the two above-mentioned poems are a bit different, but the poetic devices employed by the poets to deliver their messages are similar. While the poem "Song" concentrates on delivering a message of love, the poem "The Rose" symbolizes the birth of love. However, in both cases the poets ascribe a perishable quality to love. For example, Waller exclaims, "Then die!" in the last stanza of the poem. He says this with reference to the ultimate fate of the rose and everything that is alive and beautiful. What is alive today will perish tomorrow. It is with this appeal for urgency, that Waller asks his object of affections to make up her mind about their future. Vallone, on the other hand, understands this perishable quality of love, as a blessing, for what can die today, can be reborn tomorrow. Since Vallone's poem is purely symbolic, the reader reads meaning into the poem. In his poem, Vallone talks about how the rose bud leaves its past behind and blooms. This is the equivalent of a young girl entering womanhood, for it's a miracle to see the child of yesterday become the responsible, beautiful, desirable woman of today.

Both poets agree that beauty needs to be appreciated, for what is the worth of beauty if there is no one to appreciate it? For example Waller says, "Small is the worth, of beauty from the light retired. Bid her to come forth, suffer herself to be desired…" When talking about the miracle of the rose coming into full bloom, Vallone states that, "Only bumblebees, And hummingbirds, Can explain." Here hummingbirds and bumblebees stand for lovers who can truly understand the beauty of a rose in full bloom i.e. a woman. To understand beauty, one must love it.

Waller wants to admire and love the woman he is interested in. Vallone on the other hand, presents the woman to us as a girl who steps through adolescence and into womanhood - as someone who is to be admired. Vallone's way of loving a woman is different from that of Waller's. While both admire the woman they love, Vallone wants to see a wedding ring on his love's fingers - a ring that is proof of their mutual love ("On a wedding ring…"). However, Waller sees his love like the rose, which will cease to exist after a while. Waller feels that time is short, which is why lovers must make most of the time that they have ("How small a part of time they share That are so wondrous sweet and fair!"). Both poets see love as a way of expressing their appreciation of beauty but they have different ways of doing so.

The rose is a symbol representing love in both the poems, but it is utilized differently. In Waller's poem, the rose is a message of love to his beloved. Vallone uses the rose to represent a woman that is worth loving. While Waller uses the rose to express a feeling, Vallone uses it as a symbol for the very thing that evokes a feeling of love and admiration in him i.e. a woman. This difference is important, because it shows the different approaches that the two poets adopt when dealing with a topic like love. Vallone marvels at the beauty of love while Waller wants to experience that beauty. This difference aside, both the poets agree on the beauty of love and the happiness it brings. Vallone describes this happiness as "a sweet miracle," and Waller as something that's "wondrous, sweet and fair." "The Rose" and "Song," are poems that are based on immediate sensory experiences. "The Rose" describes the flowering of a rose bud while "Song" describes the feeling of passion that a lover experiences. Furthermore, these two poems stress on the importance of appreciating beauty. Both the poems talk about lovers who understand the meaning of beauty. However, the poem "The Rose," dwells on the miracle of beauty and how this miracle unfolds in the story of life. The other poem, "The Song" announces the lovers desire to experience this beauty. Moreover, this desire is expressed overtly. Vallone uses symbolism to express his feelings regarding beauty, and he uses the rose as a symbol for his idea of love. The above-mentioned pieces of poetry may not be the best in literature but they succeed in evoking a response from the reader. The poems make the reader think about what beauty really, and what it means to experience beauty.