The Minstrel Boy Poem Analysis

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Cadence and rhythm. This is poetry at its mechanical essence. It was once thought that those who could not hear the flow and intonation of language could not possibly compose one of the most complex and labyrinthine forms of expression (33). Yet, they did, and they did well. By referencing some early poetic works, The Minstrel Boy by James Nack, and The Mute’s Lament by John Carlin, the absolute ability of deaf individuals is realized, as well as a sample of some of the intimate topics they dealt with. The symbolism and reception of early deaf poetry contributed to themes of progress, isolation, and internalized inferiority observed in the deaf community at this time.
In the budding days of deaf education in America, it was not uncommon to
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By first analyzing the word choice in both the aforementioned works by Nack and Carlin, the theme of isolation becomes more readily identifiable. In The Minstrel Boy, a poem which grimly describes his deafness and detachment, Nack writes, “Vacant unconsciousness must me enthral!” (35). This “vacant unconsciousness” was not exclusive to Nack, in fact, many deaf writers, authors, and poets brought up this idea of being desolate and remote from the hearing community. However, Nack chose to employ an emphasized “me” rather than “The Deaf and Dumb”. This shows not only a sequestration from society as a whole, but also from the very community in which he should find acceptance. By choosing a singular pronoun, an emphasized one at that, he makes this experience entirely personal, which only helps to escalate the idea of isolation in early America. This syntactic method was also seen in Carlin’s work. In The Mute’s Lament, Carlin writes, “The limpid streamlets as they onward flow… I hear them not,” (92). While Carlin references a simple woodland scene, he echoes similar ideas of isolation through using emphasized singular pronouns. Again, most deaf individuals can relate to this sentiment of not being able to hear simple exchanges like the one mentioned above, but Carlin doesn’t associate himself with …show more content…
As mentioned earlier, it was not uncommon to hear both hearing and deaf individuals to refer to the deaf as “heathens” or “brutes” and this tendency was unambiguously apparent in Nack’s early work. He writes in The Minstrel Boy, “Behold the Deaf and Dumb! What heathens need // More eloquently for your aid can plead?” (37). The first thing that is noticeable is that Nack does not include himself in this group explicitly, but throughout the poem it is made clear that he shares the same grief and sorrow that he assumes the deaf community feels. At this time, heathens were thought to be those who did not or could not acknowledge god or the bible and were uncultured and uncivilized. It is obvious through Nack’s written work, that he was able to make a living and disprove stereotypes in his lifetime through poetry and clerk work (33). It was obvious that he had this “eloquence” that he also allocated to the Deaf and Dumb in the previous excerpt. But despite his success and the growth of deaf education in this time period he still thought of himself at one point a godless individual that was brutish and unlike his hearing brethren. This proves more certainly than anything the inherent deficiency many deaf individuals felt, both Nack and Carlin used powerful language and imagery to convey this

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