Illiad Argue Whether the Poetry/Text Presents the Essay
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Argue whether the poetry/text presents the author as pilgrim or as tourist on a wartime journey
The distinction between the tourist and the pilgrim is one that invariably arises when analyzing texts that address war. While it is common for the hero (or author) to discuss war as a theme, a distinction must be made with regard to the way in which the author relates to the war and to the soldiers. In poems where the hero embarks on a journey, his journey can take the shape of either a pilgrimage or a simple tourist trip. Drawing from Donnelly's categorization involving the tourist vs. The pilgrim, this paper analyzes a series of war poems and texts that assume the form of either a pilgrimage or a tourist journey. The pilgrimage refers to an internal journey that is invested in the pilgrimage of war. The hero is profoundly affected by the pilgrimage, and the journey itself is given equal emphasis as the arrival. Finally, the pilgrim achieves a sense of community. Alternately, the tourist journey involves the inverse, with a more individualistic (but less introspective) experience. For the tourist, the arrival is important while the journey is not, and there is little emphasis on the pilgrimage of war. The tourist is not directly affected by the pilgrimage and he achieves no community. This paper does not argue that one form is superior to the other, and instead classifies the World War One and World War Two poems into one of the two forms.
Wallace Stevens's World War Two poem "Examination of the Hero in a Tim of War" stands as a strong example of the journey of the pilgrim. In the poem, the narrator struggles with the attempt to write poetry about an event as horrific as World War Two. It is clear that he has been profoundly affected by his journey and he has a deep respect for the soldiers. His internal journey and the extent to which he has been affected are demonstrated in his statement that "It is not an image. It is a feeling. There is no image of the hero. There is a feeling as
...248). The speaker recognizes that he does not have descriptors capable of capturing the horrors of war, and his reverence toward the soldiers is reflected in his view that they are all heroes. Additionally, he is invested in the pilgrimage of war and the power of the war site, which is reflected in his disregard for the monuments, which are located away from the battlefield.
T.S. Eliot's "Little Gidding" is another example of a pilgrimage. The hero also expresses an internal journey, with an emphasis on the journey as well as the arrival, and he is also greatly affected by the pilgrimage. The extent to which he has been affected is demonstrated by his statements that "This is the death of earth," and that "the communication/Of the dead is tongued beyond the language of the living" (Eliot, p. 32). The speaker is emotionally moved and reflects an understanding that the horrors of war are beyond representation through language.
Another example of a pilgrimage is Elie Wiesel's Night (2006), which offers an autobiographical account of the horrors of war. The pilgrimage takes multiple forms; first, there is the heroes first-hand experience journeying to the Holocaust site, and there is also the journey back in time as the author attempts to come to term with the past. The book exemplifies the pilgrimage form on a number of different levels. First, his journey is internal; when Wiesel records that "There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystic truth," it is clear that he is invested in the psychological horrors of war. Wiesel gains a sense of community through his interaction with Moishe, who impresses upon him the value of mystical thought. He is also interested in the pilgrimage of war as it represents the impetus for his writing the book. The…
Sources Used in Documents:
Brazeau, Peter. (1985). Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered. New York: North Point Press.
Eliot, T.S. (1971). Four Quartets. Orlando: Harcourt Press.
Silkin, Jon. (1996). Penguin Book of First World War Poetry: Revised Edition. London: Penguin Group.
Wiesel, Elie. (2006). Night. New York: Hill and Wang.
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