Analysis of Abbey Tomb, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and To Autumn

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Analysis of Abbey Tomb, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and To Autumn

‘By using the first or second person – a poet creates a sense of direct dialogue with the reader.’ What is your response to this view?

By the use of the first or second person a poet can establish a connection between the character and the reader because the poet can address the reader directly. The poems I have chosen to study are
‘Abbey Tomb’ by Patricia Beer, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Elliot and ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats.

Beer’s use of the first person in ‘Abbey Tomb’ creates the sense that the monk is confiding in the reader. In addition the link between reader and the Beer’s character is enhanced because the monk is
talking
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Using the first person allows the Beer to develop the character in the poem. In ‘Abbey Tomb,’ the slaughter is described in a light-hearted manner; ‘Father Abbot…caught napping in the act of praise,’ could suggest the clergyman died while praying or the Vikings found him asleep when they attacked the abbey. Another death is described with a pun, ‘Brother John lay unresponsive,’ which could be linked to the responsorial psalm or it could be the fact that the monk has been killed and not able to respond; and it is also ironic that the monk lies ‘in the warming room,’ because after a person dies their body cools. This humorous description of the slaughter is ironic because it is not a Christian reaction to these violent deaths, yet it is a monk who is describing it.

The use of the first person to develop the character is shown in
Elliot’s poem. J. Prufrock reveals his innermost feeling of insignificance to the reader. ‘I am no prophet.’ And in the next stanza he says ‘I am not Prince Hamlet…Am an attendant lord’ which is a person of little importance in the play, reflecting the feeling of unimportance. He feels ‘almost ridiculous – almost, at times, the
Fool.’ Like in ‘Abbey Tomb,’ Elliot creates the sense that the character is confiding in the reader.

Elliot creates a heightened link with the reader by making the character confide his innermost worries of uncertainty. This is shown by his frequent use of direct questions.

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