Max Kumin’s , “Woodchucks” provides an interesting and creative perspective Into the mind state of those influenced by Nazi warfare. What begins as a seemingly Humorous cat and mouse hunt, soon develops into an insatiable lust for blood. However, “ Traveling through the Dark” by William Stafford, presents an innocent soul lost by the unawareness of man and the death of an unborn innocent.
Both Kumin’s and Stafford’s descriptive language and overall theme provides the reader with the insight necessary to understand to the speaker’s psychology as they are driven beyond the boundaries of pacifism and genocide. The poem “Woodchucks” indeed has a rhyme scheme, yet doesn’t conform to conventional forms of rhyme , each stanza seems to follow the order of A, B, C, A, C, B, which may not be apparent to the reader at first, but doesn’t hinder the poem’s effectiveness. The first stanza begins with the speaker describing their failed attempt at eliminating the pests.
The first attempt was described as merciful: “The Knockout bomb bone”. However, the following lines offer a bit of humor to the chase as it seems the woodchuck has outsmarted the speaker as a result of their overconfidence: “and the case we had against them was airtight, both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone, but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range”. This first stanza sets the stage for what would appear to be a humorous battle of wit’s between the speaker and the woodchucks.
While in “ Traveling through the Dark” consist of no rhyme scheme, and follows a contemplative tone, that comes from the decision of life and death, which sets the moods of the poem include: sadness, despair. The following stanza continues in this vein with the cynical statement, “Next morning they turned up again, no worse for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch”. However, those that follow are slowly indicative of the speaker’s mental deterioration.
The statements of the food being eaten by the woodchucks are filled with bitterness as the language begins to resemble that of a killer. “They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course and then took over the vegetable patch nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots”. This is especially evident in the reference to the carrots being “beheaded” which provides an appropriate transition into the next stanza. On the other hand Stafford’s poem uses the use of figurative language, like alliteration, and imagery in order to convey the disheartening emotions that come with being forced to make a life threatening decision.
The poem by Stafford, “Traveling through the Dark” presents readers with an uncomfortable and rather grim instance of the intersection of the natural world and that of man. Technology, in this case cars and the man-made road, are seen as something invasive and harmful in this poem. In order to convey the meaning of the poem “Traveling through the Dark” by William Stafford uses a conversational style to communicate the theme in the poem of the role of technology in modern life and , more importantly, the theme of man versus nature becomes apparent.
Then again Kumin presents a sense of human behavior vs. animal behavior in a way that allows the symbolism of World War II to come through. Through out the poems, both poets not only convey an everyday scene into an underlying theme, by the use of figurative language and the selection of words and phrases. Common themes of the poems are life, death, and conflicting forces lie in each poem. Both poets allow for an underlying theme to be portrayed in a way that reflects on the original scene of the poem.
“Traveling through the Dark” by William E. Stanford and “Woodchucks” by Maxine Kumin a man must make the choice of nature and its ways. Both poems have their similarities and differences. Traveling through the dark and woodchucks share various ways of similarities, Man vs Nature Death situations are involved in both poems. Through the use of narrations both poems have different attitudes.
Traveling through the dark starts off dark and progress towards a more serious tone and, the reader sympathizes with the main action in getting the dead deer off the road. So he can prevent future deaths. Both poems use strong verbs to communicate the point effectively as possible. Traveling through the dark has no rhyme scheme and follows contemplative tone, that comes from the decision of life and death which sets the mood of the poem: sadness and despair. Kumin uses “ beheaded” and “hooked” to illustrate the images to she wants to communicate.
In Woodchuck, Maxine talks about the violence in killing the woodchuck and actually shows the reader the killing and violence whereas the Traveling through the dark illustrates a human reaction to the less-violent act. The poem however does have a rhyme scheme but does not conform to conventional forms of rhyme. The first stanza happens when the speaker describing their failed attempt to eliminate the pest. Following through the poem a sense of humor becomes between the writer and the woodchucks.
Each poem has a violent, grim, painful and guilty tone to it, maybe some or less in others. while reading “traveling through the dark” the doe’s death and the inescapable fate of the baby fawn brings on a feeling of guilt, more so that the poem of the “woodchucks”, also in the contrast the “woodchucks poem emphasizes on violence more than its partner. Throughout the story the narrator is blood thirsty and cares only about the death of woodchucks but does not relate to what is actually happening around the time or what was happening around him the nazi period. The death of each animal leaves the reader feeling sad and hopeless. In comparison, Kumin only focuses on the man’s reaction to the the woodchucks “beheading the carrots”, traveling through the dark is more objective as compared to the woodchucks which is more emotional although they are both almost equal effective.