Fathma Abdulkhader

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Anthony Hecht was born in New York City in 1923. He attended Bard College, but soon during his years in college he was drafted to serve in World War II. After returning to the states, he continued and finished college at Kenyon College. There he studied with other poets and authors and ended up writing books and books of poems. His works are well known for the linguistics and allusions to literature in other countries, such as Greek mythology, English poetry, and French literature.


We have set out from here for the sublime
Pastures of summer shade and mountain stream;
I have no doubt we shall arrive on time.

Is all the green of that enameled prime
A snapshot recollection or a dream?
We have set out from here for the sublime

Without provisions, without one thin dime,
And yet, for all our clumsiness, I deem
It certain that we shall arrive on time.

No guidebook tells you if you'll have to climb
Or swim. However foolish we may seem,
We have set out from here for the sublime

And must get past the scene of an old crime
Before we falter and run out of steam,
Riddled by doubt that we'll arrive on time.

Yet even in winter a pale paradigm
Of birdsong utters its obsessive theme.
We have set out from here for the sublime;
I have no doubt we shall arrive on time.

This is a very inquisitive poem by Anthony Hecht, where he dives into the typical human task of wondering when we will reach our destinations. Hecht makes use of different formal elements throughout the poem to convey a certain theme. There’s a regular meter within the poem with an “ABA” rhyme scheme. This pattern allows for the poem to sound melodic when it is read, which suggests a positive tone for the theme of this poem. Certain diction used, like “sublime” and “we shall arrive on time” also attribute to the tone with positive connotations. When one thinks of “sublime,” they think of majestic and grandeur thoughts. Arriving to a place, or even a state of mind, in a timely manner brings a serene mindset to any human. Hecht is portraying to the reader through the poem that everything will be alright in the end and the right factors will come into play. Repeating those positive phrases and the ends of the stanzas brings a calm to the reader through the whole poem. He’s saying that despite the small bump in the road, which he characterizes in many ways such as “for all our clumsiness” or “birdsong utters its obsessive theme,” one will always make it peacefully to the end if they keep good faith and their heads up. This poem promotes a general well-being and to be worry-free, which is an idea that many people overlook in our busy day to day life. People pile so many things onto their plate in our modern times, whether it be school, work, sports, community service, being a perfect parent, or being a perfect friend. Reading this poem emphasizes that fact that it’s okay for all of us to slow down and just take the time to remember to not get extremely stressed out because things will work out just fine in the end.

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Lizards and Snakes

On the summer road that ran by our front porch
Lizards and snakes came out to sun.
It was hot as a stove out there, enough to scorch
A buzzard's foot. Still, it was fun
To lie in the dust and spy on them. Near but remote,
They snoozed in the carriage ruts, a smile
In the set of the jaw, a fierce pulse in the throat
Working away like Jack Doyle's after he'd run the mile.

Aunt Martha had an unfair prejudice
Against them (as well as being cold
Toward bats.) She was pretty inflexible in this,
Being a spinster and all, and old.
So we used to slip them into her knitting box.
In the evening she'd bring in things to mend
And a nice surprise would slide out from under the socks.
It broadened her life, as Joe said. Joe was my friend.

But we never did it again after the day
Of the big wind when you could hear the trees
Creak like rocking chairs. She was looking away
Off, and kept saying, "Sweet Jesus, please
Don't let him near me. He's as like as twins.
He can crack us like lice with his fingernail.
I can see him plain as a pikestaff. Look how he grins
And swings the scaly horror of his folded tail."

In this poem, Anthony Hecht describes in detail of a vivid memory from his childhood. This poem is all about the simple, as he goes on to write about a specific summer day that he recalls. The “ABAB” rhyme scheme found in the work adds a melodic touch, which further expands upon the simplicity of the poem. The end turns a bit dark when the aunt speaks of her dislike towards the creatures of summertime, but how the poem is read with the regular meter keeps the mood light. Instead of painting big ideas and themes into the reader’s mind, Hecht invites readers to look at the most basic of elements. There is a whole stanza dedicated to portraying the hot summer day and the lizard or snake hiding nearby. An attention to detail is important in allowing Hecht to really bring the reader into his own memory as if the reader was experiencing it themselves. Reading this poem one will imagine being young and mischievous once again. The main character and his friend, Joe, would always sneak lizards and snakes into their aunt’s belongings. Hecht writes this and mainly the entire poem almost prose-like. He is telling us this story of his and he wants readers to feel those emotions he is remembering. Making the poem similar to a casual story achieves just this effect. The very last stanza is the young author’s realization that what he’s been doing to his aunt wasn’t the nicest thing ever. The aunt’s quote at the very end is almost like she is describing something she saw in a horror film. Yet the melodious rhyme scheme continues through the very end and still manages to carry on the light mood from beginning to end. So all in all, this work places emphasis and importance on how we should always look to recalling the simplest moments in our lives.

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A Letter

I have been wondering
What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
It is certainly not me.
But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
Blood knows what it knows.
It talks to itself all night, like a sliding moonlit sea.

Of course, it is talking of you.
At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights
The sun plants one lithe foot
On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
Its warm Arabian nights,
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heart-root.

Who shall, of course, be nameless
Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
As I'm sure you have, too.
Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver. My dearest, the clear unquaried blue

Of those depths is all but blinding.
You may remember that once you brought my boys
Two little woolly birds.
Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

There is not much else to tell.
One tries one's best to continue as before,
Doing some little good.
But I would have you know that all is not well
With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

Anthony Hecht’s poem, “A Letter,” is set on describing how one feels after losing someone they once loved. The author starts the poem by making it obvious that the speaker is thinking about someone that they believe is not thinking about them at all. This is a very common feeling in all humans when separating from people they deeply cared for. The way the poem is read is most helpful in deciphering these meanings. The poem contains a regular rhyme scheme of ABCABC, which allows the words to flow melodiously when read, almost like a sad song. It’s also written in iambic meters that helps the normal flow of the entire poem, but there are also a few trochaic trimeters that are thrown in. The short trochaic meters aid in adding emphasis on certain lines within the stanzas, such as when the author says “As I’m sure you have, too” and “Blood knows what it knows.” Both lines here is the author trying to get across the idea that whatever happens is what is meant to happen. Hecht is placing emphasis on the fact that although he is hurt, the world will continue to turn and he must face this pain until he is able to move on. There are also different stylistic techniques used in the poem to bring about the mood of the work. One example is the prominent use of personifications that is primarily used in the first and second stanzas. Phrases such as “the ocean has netted its catch of lights” and “The sun plants one lithe foot” have very positive connotations and give off a warming feeling. This is appropriate because these are the stanzas where the author speaks of the one they loved. After these two stanzas, there is more about how the author feels now that he or she is alone, which is signaled by stopping the use of personification and the happier tone to a more somber one. Despite the shifts, the poem still flows lightly through the tone changes due to the regular meter and rhyme.

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Late Afternoon: The Onslaught Of Love

At this time of dayOne could hear the caulking irons soundAgainst the hulls in the dockyard.Tar smoke rose between treesAnd large oily patches floated on the water,Undulating unevenlyIn the purple sunlightLike the surfaces of Florentine bronze.
At this time of daySounds carried clearlyThrough hot silences of fading daylight.The weedy fields lay drownedIn odors of creosote and salt.Richer than double-colored taffetaOil floated in the harbor,Amoeboid, iridescent, limp.It called to mind the slender limbsOf Donatello's David.
It was lovely and she was in love.They had taken a covered boat to one of the islands.The city sounds were faint in the distance:Rattling of carriages, tumult of voices,Yelping of dogs on the decks of barges.
At this time of daySunlight empurpled the world.The poplars darkened in ranksLike imperial servants.Water lapped and lispedIn its native and quiet tongue.Oakum was in the air and the scent of grasses.There would be fried smelts and cherries and cream.Nothing designed by Italian artisansWould match this evening's perfection.The puddled oil was a miracle of colors.

This particular poem by Anthony Hecht has a main goal of capturing one fleeting moment from the eyes of an observer. The poem goes on for four good length stanzas, yet it all describes a few seconds in the afternoon time. Nature and the surroundings has great emphasis throughout the poem. In fact, only two lines in the entire poem actually describe two lovers, which may seem odd since the title contains the phrase “Onslaught of Love.” A reader of this poem may believe from reading the title that the poem will have very obvious references on the topic of love since “Onslaught of Love” basically means being bombarded with love. However, by only having two lines with an obvious reference, the author brings more importance to those two lines and the theme of love than if he had made the entire poem about the two lovers. Hecht describes nature in a way that I have not seen before. He describes pollution. He talk about how the “tar smoke rose between the trees” and the “puddled oil” in the water. In most scenarios, this would make a reader cringe or feel a negative tone, but it seems to be the opposite within this poem. One can easily tell it’s industrial surroundings, yet it’s described how someone would describe an untouched field of flowers. Hecht brings out the beauty of nature regardless of the environment, and this corresponds to his message about love. The same way that a person can see beauty in any setting during any time of day, two people can find love amidst hectic lifestyles or seemingly impossible situations. Hecht saying “city sounds were faint in the distance” reveals the idea that once one is able to focus on the smaller, more important details, it’s easy to find love and beauty in unlikely places.
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Works Cited

"30 Graceful Pictures of Geckos - Digital Photography Magazine." Digital Photography Magazine. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2016."A Couple Stand on a Rooftop Overlooking the City with the Eiffel..." Getty Images. Web. 13 Feb. 2016."A Peaceful Mind Can Think Better than a Worked up Mind." AV MEDIA. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.Anthony Evan Hecht - Poem Hunter. "A Letter Poem." Poemhunter.com. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.Anthony Evan Hecht - Poem Hunter. "Late Afternoon: The Onslaught Of Love Poem." Poemhunter.com. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.Anthony Evan Hecht - Poem Hunter. "Lizards And Snakes Poem." Poemhunter.com. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.Anthony Evan Hecht - Poem Hunter. "Prospects Poem." Poemhunter.com. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.
"Anthony Hecht." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.
"The Currencies of Love." Tumblr. Web. 13 Feb. 2016."University of Rochester." Rochester Review ::. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.