'After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent' by Mary Oliver
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Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind --
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward...
I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark--
"Made it again!" Oh how I love this climb!
-- the whispering to the stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
"Made it again! Made it again!"
Editor 1 Interpretation
After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent by Mary Oliver: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Are you tired of reading literature that seems to revel in the misery and suffering of the human experience? Do you believe that art must come from a place of pain and anguish in order to be considered great? Mary Oliver, in her poem "After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," challenges this notion, arguing instead that art can and should come from a place of joy and wonder.
At its core, Oliver's poem is a celebration of the beauty and wonder of the natural world. She begins by describing a morning walk in the woods, where she is surrounded by "blazing leaves, / red and gold" and the "laughter of the earth." This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is full of vivid descriptions of the natural world and the joy that it brings.
One of the most striking aspects of Oliver's poem is her use of imagery. Throughout the poem, she uses vivid, sensory language to describe the world around her. For example, she describes the sun as "pouring over / the stones and into the deep / narrow gorge," conjuring up an image of light streaming through the trees and illuminating the rocks below. Similarly, she describes the leaves as "blazing," evoking a sense of intense, vibrant color.
But Oliver's use of imagery is not just aesthetically pleasing; it serves a deeper purpose as well. By immersing the reader in the natural world, she invites us to share in her sense of wonder and awe. Through her descriptions of the sun, the leaves, and the laughter of the earth, she reminds us of the beauty and magic that surrounds us every day, if only we take the time to notice it.
Another key theme in Oliver's poem is the idea of happiness and contentment. Throughout the poem, she emphasizes the importance of finding joy in the present moment and being grateful for what we have. For example, she writes:
"And I thought what if I should come to the end of my life and find I have lived just the length of it and not have tasted the wild sweet grasses or reached my hands out to the sky or lain in the rain—what if I had loved only the what-ifs?"
In this passage, Oliver reminds us that life is short, and we should not waste it by focusing on the things we don't have or the things we wish we could do. Instead, we should focus on the present moment and find joy in the simple things around us.
Oliver's emphasis on happiness and contentment is particularly powerful in the context of the larger literary tradition. For centuries, writers and artists have celebrated suffering and pain as the source of great art. From the Romantic poets to the tortured artists of the 20th century, there has been a pervasive belief that one must suffer in order to create something truly great. Oliver challenges this notion, arguing that joy and wonder can be just as powerful sources of inspiration.
At the same time, however, Oliver's poem is not entirely devoid of pain and struggle. In the final stanza, she writes:
"and I think of each of us as a cell of abalone slick with grief and radiant with hope"
Here, Oliver reminds us that even in the midst of joy and wonder, there is always a hint of sadness and struggle. We are all "slick with grief," but we are also "radiant with hope." This juxtaposition of darkness and light, pain and joy, is a central theme in Oliver's work, and it gives her poetry a sense of depth and complexity that is often lacking in more simplistic portrayals of happiness and contentment.
In conclusion, Mary Oliver's "After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent" is a powerful celebration of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, as well as a reminder of the importance of finding joy and contentment in the present moment. Through her vivid imagery and her emphasis on happiness and wonder, Oliver challenges the traditional literary tradition, which has often celebrated pain and suffering as the source of great art. In doing so, she offers us a new way of seeing the world, one that is full of light, hope, and wonder.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent: A Masterpiece by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, has left an indelible mark on the world of literature with her profound and thought-provoking works. Her poem, "After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," is a masterpiece that challenges the conventional notion that art can only be created from a place of pain and suffering. In this analysis, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and language to understand its significance and impact.
The poem's central theme is the idea that art can be created from a place of joy and contentment, rather than just from a place of pain and suffering. Oliver argues that art can be a celebration of life, a reflection of the beauty and wonder that surrounds us. She believes that art can be a way to connect with the world and to express our deepest emotions and experiences.
Oliver's poem also touches on the theme of creativity and the creative process. She suggests that creativity is not just about suffering and struggle, but also about joy and inspiration. She believes that creativity can be a way to explore and express our innermost thoughts and feelings, and that it can be a source of healing and transformation.
The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, with Oliver stating her disagreement with the idea that art must come from discontent. The second stanza explores the idea that art can be a celebration of life and beauty. The third stanza delves into the creative process and the role of inspiration in art. The final stanza concludes the poem with a powerful statement about the transformative power of art.
Oliver's language in this poem is simple yet powerful. She uses vivid imagery and metaphors to convey her message. For example, in the second stanza, she describes the world as "a gift given to a wandering soul," suggesting that life is a precious and beautiful thing that we should cherish and celebrate. In the third stanza, she compares inspiration to a "bright and sudden flower," suggesting that creativity can be a spontaneous and joyful experience.
Oliver's use of repetition is also notable in this poem. She repeats the phrase "I don't believe" several times throughout the poem, emphasizing her disagreement with the conventional idea that art must come from discontent. This repetition gives the poem a sense of urgency and conviction, making it clear that Oliver feels strongly about her message.
Oliver's poem has had a significant impact on the world of literature and art. It challenges the conventional notion that art can only be created from a place of pain and suffering, and instead suggests that art can be a celebration of life and beauty. This message has resonated with many artists and writers, who have found inspiration in Oliver's words.
Furthermore, Oliver's poem has helped to shift the conversation around creativity and the creative process. It has encouraged artists to explore new ways of expressing themselves and to embrace joy and inspiration as a source of creativity. This has led to a more diverse and inclusive art world, where artists from all backgrounds and experiences can find a place to express themselves.
Mary Oliver's poem, "After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," is a masterpiece that challenges the conventional notion that art can only be created from a place of pain and suffering. Through her vivid imagery and powerful language, Oliver suggests that art can be a celebration of life and beauty, and that creativity can be a source of joy and inspiration. Her message has had a significant impact on the world of literature and art, encouraging artists to explore new ways of expressing themselves and to embrace joy and inspiration as a source of creativity.
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