“Catch” by Robert Francis and “Easter Wings” by George Herbert

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Topic: Literature
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Two poems written by Robert Francis and George Herbert are separated by more than three centuries of the literature process. These aspects influenced the style of writing and the peculiarities of the poetic language. Nevertheless, it is still possible to determine the main differences and similarities in Francis’s “Catch” and Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” which depend on the poems’ themes and the poets’ styles.

After examining “Catch” and “Easter Wings,” some readers can conclude that these two poems contain a lot of differences, and it is rather difficult to focus on their definite similarities. Thus, the main peculiarity of George Herbert’s poem, which draws the reader’s attention even before starting its study, is the shape of the stanzas, which reminds wings. The title of the poem is “Easter Wings,” and the author gives the visual effect of wings with the help of specific shaping the verse, which reflects not only the title of the poem but also its main idea. In his poem, George Herbert concentrates on depicting the different stages of relations between a man and God. The most significant concepts of his poem are ‘fall’ and ‘flight’ which are presented in the second and fourth stanzas of the verse. Moreover, the author gives his vision of the way to God in the last stanza of his poem, “If I imp my wing on Thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me” (Roberts 939). The notion of ‘affliction’ is considered as the chance for the soul to fly and not to fall down.

The theme of “Catch” by Robert Francis can be analyzed as the process of writing poems. The author uses an unordinary approach to the depiction of the process, which is presented as the game in which children can toss and catch a ball. Thus, while writing poems, two boys depicted in the first line of the verse play with their poem as with a ball. “Two boys uncoached are tossing a poem together” (Roberts, 654). The author’s irony can be noticed in the image of the boys, which is developed in the next part of the verse. We can play with words as we play with a ball. Tossing and catching words, we can choose the right word or give it a new meaning. Moreover, the image of ‘catch,’ which is also presented as the title of the poem, accentuates that the author only tosses the meaning of the words, and the reader’s task is to catch them. However, it can be rather difficult when it is just a game with words and not inspiration.

There are many similarities in these two poems, which are associated with the great imagery, visual effects, and the unusual rhythmic structure, which provides sound effects. Thus, the imagery of the poems is developed with effective word choice and the peculiarities of the authors’ styles. George Herbert concentrates on depicting wings as the main way for people to reach God in their hearts. Moreover, the word ‘wing’ is presented only in the fourth stanza of the poem when the whole image is created with the help of visual effects when the stanzas form the wings. In his turn, Robert Francis uses the image of a game with a ball to reproduce the peculiarities of the writing process. The boys play with words as with a ball, “High, make him fly off the ground for it, low, make him stoop, / Make him scoop it up, make him as-almost-as possible miss it” (Roberts 654).

The visual effects of “Catch” and “Easter Wings” can also be discussed as a result of organizing the images in these poems. Thus, George Herbert organizes his poem with the help of four short stanzas which form the wings when Robert Francis uses only one stanza, but the words in the lines are organized in a special way in order to create the effect of strokes, “Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes” or “Anything, everything tricky, risky, nonchalant” (Roberts 654). Visual effects are also created with the help of the rhythmic organizations of the words used in the lines.

The rhythmic structure of the poems is influenced by the frequent usage of alliteration in them. George Herbert uses alliteration in the last lines of the second and fourth stanzas with focusing on the main concepts presented in his poem, “And sing this day Thy victories: / Then shall the fall further the flight in me” and “For if I imp my wing on Thine, / Affliction shall advance the flight in me” (Roberts 939). Thus, as it was stated, the author accentuates the places in the verse where the words ‘fall’ and ‘flight’ are used. The usage of alliteration at the end of the first and third stanzas gives the sound effect of the wings’ beating, “Till he became / Most poore: / With Thee / O let me rise” (Roberts 939). The rhythmic organization of Robert Francis’s “Catch” is also based on the examples of alliteration in the verse, “Overhand, underhand, backhand, sleight of hand, every hand, / Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes” (Roberts 654).

Robert Francis’s “Catch” and George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” are poems that were written in different centuries and in which different themes were discussed. Nevertheless, in spite of their differences, these poems have definite similarities which depend on the peculiarities of the poets’ styles.

Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. USA: Pearson/Longman, 2012. Print.