Essay about Traveling Through the Dark

613 Words Mar 12th, 2013 3 Pages
When reading a poem for the first time, it is fairly easy to view it on a literal level.

Nonetheless, after analyzing the purpose, tone, word choice, and figures of speech and how they

simultaneously work together, the reader is hit with a whole new perception of the poem.

William Stafford's "Traveling through the Dark" holds this characteristic. The poem is about a

man driving on a narrow road at night and his internal conflict triggered by an encounter with a

dead deer along the road. He immediately leaves his car and walks toward the deer with the

intention of rolling it "into the canyon." However, when he discovers that this deer has an unborn

fawn, the man is struck with an instant conflict. Does he push
…show more content…
The first three lines of the

fourth stanza make the idling car into a mechanized beast that kills nature. Some details about

this mechanized beast are on lines thirteen to fifteen where the car "aimed ahead" (13) its lights,

"purred" (14) its steady, idling engine, and emitting "warm exhaust turning red" (15). The third

and final symbol is revealed only in the last stanza. On line seventeen, "I thought hard for us all"

exhibits the fact that the speaker is representative of all mankind. The speaker represents

mankind coming around the curve in the dark. He symbolizes mankind being caught in the

struggle between nature and technology.

Nature in the form of a dead doe is portrayed as an object worthy of pity while the mechanical beast is a ruthless image. Among the various descriptions relating to the dead doe, the most conspicuous is of her being "large in the belly" (8). "The heap, a doe" (6) describes the speaker’s first impression of the recent killing. Aside from those two images, the other description of the doe correlates to the sense of touch; the speaker notices that that the doe’s "side was warm" (10) after brushing finger against her fur. Stafford describes the car with regards to three of the body’s five senses. The car is described as having its lights "lowered" (13) or dimmed, casting the scene in shadows. The steady purring emitted from the engine appeals to the speaker’s sense of hearing. "Warm

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