William Blake and Denis Levertov created splendid literary works with a very deep sense folding their parts of the souls into every line of the poems. “Wedding-Ring” by Denise Levertov and “The Sick Rose” by William Blake attract a curious reader from the very beginning drawing his attention to the titles that keep a great secret of the past. Both authors represented “sadness” as the central theme of their poems, but in a totally different way.
The past has gone leaving only memories and pipe dreams. In the poem “Wedding-Ring” by Denise Levertov, the poet is a narrator who probably describes the familiar events that happened many years ago. The lines “My wedding-ring lies in a basket/ as if at the bottom of a well” (Levertov, n.p.) reveal the feeling of sadness and pain as the wedding ring reminds a woman about her wedding with a sad end. “The wedding-ring” can be a symbol of commitment that can be difficult to bear if love does not exist between partners, and this precious thing makes a person hate it as a burden. Moreover, the author uses a simile comparing “the basket” with “the bottom of a well”, linking the thoughts by the word “as”.
On the other hand, “the wedding-ring” is an exact example of the interest loss about the matter of great importance for somebody else, but not for the narrator. The words “Nothing will come to fish it back up/ and onto my finger again” (Levertov, n.p.) confirm that there are just ordinary memories of the old past events. Surely, the author feels sad, but she does not express a deep feeling of regret about such important item as a “wedding-ring”. In addition, the stanza “It lies among keys to abandoned houses,/ nails waiting to be needed and hammered/ into some wall” (Levertov, n.p.) shows that nobody used that precious item, because it means nothing special for a woman who had ever received such a desirable thing. Therefore, it can symbolize the end of the relationships if “it is nailed into some wall” (Levertov, n.p.). However, “the wedding-ring” represents sincere feelings of trust and hope for the eternal life for two persons who swear to connect their fates spending together the whole life in joy and sorrow. In other words, all these expectations exist in a happy marriage. The line “It can’t be given away/ for fear of bringing ill-luck/ It can’t be sold/ for the marriage was good in its own” (Levertov, n.p.) proves that it was not a needed thing; thus, “marriage” is an irrevocable item for the main character, and the ring has something similar with a bad luck.
The tone of sadness that the author describes in the notion “marriage” goes through the whole poem. There are no accurate facts, but it is possible to assume that the protagonist’s story in the poem can be based on the poet’s bibliography. According to some data, it is known that Denise Levertov divorced in1974 and wrote a poem in 1978. However, this information cannot reflect what exactly happened in her private life.
The poem uses some particular literary devices. Levertov created the poem in a free way without any rhymes, but she used some simile, allusion, and trimeter to reinforce the meaning of the poem and focus on what it definitely symbolizes.
William Blake wrote a fascinating, impressive poem “The Sick Rose” that belongs to “The Songs of Innocence” describing the same theme as Levertov, but he put the question of love into the plot of the poem. Love has no boundaries and sometimes can destroy many lives on the Earth. In the poem by Levertov, a woman refused her love, but in Blake’s poem, the main character desires to love. The lines “O Rose thou art sick/ The invisible worm,/ That flies in the night/ In the howling storm” (Blake, n.p.) describe the relations between a beautiful woman and a man comparing a man to “invisible worm” according to some existent theories. The question is why Blake decided to compare a man to “the worm”, and it is more surprisingly that he made it “invisible”. Besides, the sound “O” refers to onomatopoeia that is not inherent to the poem by Levertov.
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The point is that there is no exact answer, but “the rose is sick” probably because of love which destroys the rose’s life. On the other hand, men are very cruel creatures, who do not realize that God presents them this incredible great feeling only one time during their miserable life, but they do not appreciate this gift often changing their thoughts and being not responsible for their deeds and affairs.
The beauty of the rose constantly reflects the beautiful appearance of a woman and her sufferings because of love. Therefore, using the word “sick”, the author shows the reader how much he loves and adores this flower making the audience feel endless sympathy with the rose’s fate. “The worm” infected the rose existence; thus, its love is infectious as well. Of course, the rose does not know that it is sick, but it definitely suffers; it seems there is no way to save its small young life. Besides, “the howling storm” is an obvious evidence of the poor condition of the rose, and “the night” contributes to that sad state, because night always connects with darkness covering the worst happening during this time. In the stanza “Has found out thy bed/ Of crimson joy:/ And his dark secret love/ Does thy love destroy” (Blake, n.p.), the poet reveals horrible intentions of a living creature described as “the invisible worm” that tries to penetrate into the innocent life of the beautiful, proud rose. The last words show the audience the way this creature destroys rose’s life being “invisible” for the flower’s sight and vision. In this case, another character destroyed somebody’s life; on the contrary, in the poem by Levertov, the protagonist gives up her own happiness herself.