Comparing and Contrasting three poems by Willa Cather

Though thematically similar, Cather’s three selected poems vary widely in voice. “Grandmither, Think not I Forget” uses a careful meter of nineteen syllables per line, with the exclusion of the last in conjunction with an almost Shakespearean feeling use of language. I cannot place the time frame she is affecting, but it sharply contrasts the more modern poem “The Namesake”. “The Namesake” is firmly modern in its voice, its brief lines, stanzas and plainspoken style adding to cause. The poem’s direct references to the American states, especially during the time of war and settlement, counter the previous poem’s nostalgia.

Though both poems use natural imagery, thyme and rose and clay in “Grandmither, Think not I Forget,” and stones and earth and various types of trees in “the Namesake,” along with the third selected poem “Evening Song”, but I will get to that one in a moment. Both use natural imagery and both speak from the point of roughly the same persona. In both, the speaker is young (?) woman alone, speaking to a departed relative about a lover from whom she has been separated.

In “Evening Song,” the speaker is apparently not physically separated from her “Love” but seems to feel some emotional separation. She is justifying her expressions of the sentiment by noting the brevity of life. She uses natural imagery again, but these are not the intimate things listed in the previous two poems, not thyme or rue or trees, but instead are stars and day and night and the “deep and dark” sea. Again, the theme of isolation plays itself out, just not so literally in this piece as in the previous two.

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