What do you find particularly memorable about the poets’ portrayal of night and moonlight in Amends (by Adrienne Rich)?


6 thoughts on “What do you find particularly memorable about the poets’ portrayal of night and moonlight in Amends (by Adrienne Rich)?

  1. Silvia Pavan & Oscar Ferraccioli
    What do you find particularly memorable about the poet’s portrayal of night and moonlight in Amends (by Adrienne Rich)?
    In the poem Amends, the poet Adrienne Rich portrays the moonlight like a travelling body, she personifies it making it act as a person. Immediately the repetition of “as it” captures the reader’s attention as it gives a sense of continuity, gives rhythm and fluency. Again the sense of continuity is given by the absence of full stops.
    In the first stanza the poet portrays the night in different ways. The phrase “Nights like this:” refers to Act 5 of the Merchant of Venice. The adjective “cold” refers to the surrounding atmosphere of that night, making it seem harsh and giving a negative connotation. “a white star” is used to make reference to blossoms and the moonlight. The next part of the phrase “then another” makes us understand that blossoms are continuously born so it shows the continuity of nature cycle. The word “exploding” suggests to the reader an idea of violence and loudness. In the last line of the stanza the poet introduces the moonlight by starting its personification that will continue throughout the whole poem. The mood that is created in the first stanza, starting off the whole poem is busy and confusing at first, but towards the end becomes calm and relaxing.
    “greater stones” leads to a zoom out creating an image of a big space and widening up the reader’s idea of the setting. “Rises with the surf” gives the sense of motion, of reaching the top with lightness giving importance and majesty. The first personification is found in line 6 “laying its cheek”, this links to female attitude, relaxing and gentle. The idea of the moon laying “for moments” gives the sense of a pause, of tranquility; the image of the moon as Mother Nature is conveyed by the phrase “licks the broken ledge” as it tries to makes amends in nature that is being destroyed by humanity. “flows up the cliffs” once again it is rising with elegance and majesty, the moon is over everything from the very deep bottom to the highest top. “across the tracks” tracks are commonly found near to beaches, the image of a beach links to nature and to a relaxing, calm and tranquil area. Throughout the whole second stanza, the verbs “picks”, “licks”, “flicks” give a sense of continuity, gives rhyme and establishes a relaxed and calm tone.
    Stanza three is conducted by a line of negative connotation: it is immediately said that the moonlight is too weak and achieving nothing by saying “unavailing” giving a negative connotation; the line of negative connotation is continued with “quarry” linking to the destruction of nature, being too weak when put under threat by humanity. The image of it “as it leans” gives the idea of not having balance and that it is in the point of falling into destruction. “the hangared fuselage” links to a sleeping plane, not working anymore, the end of its job has come linking to the end and death. “crop dusting” means that it spreads insecticides which are poisonous and damage nature, once again conveying a negative connotation.
    The poem ends with a fourth stanza where the moon “soaks through cracks”, this phrase connotes an intake of energy by the moon and the fact that it goes into the cracks shows it is unstoppable, able to go anywhere. The image that the moon comes out when people are sleeping “into trailers tremulous wit sleep” shows its silence, tranquility, calmness and elegance: it moves without making a sound but still its light shows its presence. “as it dwells” a gentle word, seems as though the moon is protecting the sleepers, acting as mother; “as if to make amends” the moon, acting as mother, tries to adjust what happens to nature by trying to adjust humans. They are destroying nature so they are the first ones who have a problem in themselves as they don’t realize the situation. The moon is trying to put things in order from the start; its actions are an attempt to adjust nature.
    What strikes the reader and remains in its memory is the way in which the moon loses its image of being an inanimate body and becomes like a person, gentle and elegant, protective and fair. The way it travels around from the deepest and nearest point to the highest and distant. This image conveyed by the poet’s personification is so true and realistic.

  2. Very well structured essay, with detailed but clear explanations. Effective the one of the various connotations words/situations can have, for example, when descibing the night, where even a simple word like: “cold”, is able to change the atmosphere the poem is set in. I really liked the idea of the stars blossoming in the sky, continuosly appearing, suggesting the continuation and repetition of the nature cycle. Overall, the essay is well written but, I would suggest using some synonyms to avoid as much as possible repetitions (eg. the frequent use of the words “negative connotation”)

  3. The essay is very well structured. You managed to give the reader clear and detailed explanations. I particularly liked how you introduced the essay: the fact that you noted how the poet uses anaphora “as it” gives a sense of continuity and makes it more evident the main message of the poem: the moon wishes to make amends because it sympathises with the lives of the sleepers.
    I would also suggest to try and avoid repetitions by using synonyms to make the poem more fluent and appreciating to read.
    Carolina Daneshfar

  4. I believe the essay is well build; the structure is effective as it analysis from one stanza to the other making a clear visual of the poem. I really liked the description of stanza 3 when they managed to explain and successfully convey how the poem’s atmosphere changes towards a negative state.
    The large use of quotes also helps in sustaining their argument. The deep analysis of each word is also very important and they managed to complete this task immaculately.
    The conclusion was also particularly valid as it summaries all of the points which the question was demanding.
    However, I suppose they should write more upon the effect that the words have on the writer and how the writer’s opinion and ideas change as the moon change. I also believe with Giulia’s point upon the repetition issue.

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