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The Lonely Land

The poem “The Lonely Land” by A. J. M Smith can be compared with the poem by Marilyn Dumont called “Not Just a Platform for My Dance”. Smith’s poem, “The Lonely Land”, describes the land in detail. He says that even though the land is not perfect, it has its own beauty. “Not Just a Platform for My Dance” states that the land is not just considered as a place, but as something to learn from. Dumont also explains how the land teaches us everything we know. Even though both of the poems are about the land, one poem gives the land a human characteristic.

To both writers, the land is considered as something special. The two poems can be seen as being different but they also share some similar things. When looking at “The Lonely Land”, it forms a visual object. This object could be identified as the letter ‘i’. The letter ‘i’ stands alone, which could mean isolation. “The Lonely Land” has very lengthy stanzas to represent that the land is lonely for a long period. “Not Just a Platform for My Dance” also has its own visual effect to the poem. The poem looks something like a platform because of its wide look formed by the long lines.

The short stanzas in this poem could represent steps to get on to the platform. “The Lonely Land” uses punctuation to help the readers get a clearer view. “Cedar and jagged fir/uplift sharp barbs/against the gray/and cloud-piled sky;” (1-4) helps visualize a tree with short, sharp needles. In Dumont’s poem, she uses no punctuation to keep the poem flowing smoothly as if it were a dance with no interruptions. When she states “this land is/my tongue my eyes my mouth” (6) it can be seen as a beat for steps while dancing.

Even though these two poems contrast greatly, they share similar features. In both of the poems, they start out with short and choppy sentences. “this land is not” (1) and “Cedar and jagged fir” (1) are examples from the first stanza in each poem. Both poems use repetition, which gives similar form. In “Not Just a Platform for My Dance”, Dumont repeats “this land is” four times throughout the poem. A. J. M Smith says a similar line twice in “The Lonely Land”. “This is a beauty” (23) and “This is the beauty” (35) gives the poem the same form as Dumont’s poem.

Both poems have differences and some similarities when looking at the form. After reading “The Lonely Land” and “Not Just a Platform for My Dance”, there are similarities but also differences pointed out. In “The Lonely Land”, A. J. M Smith says “This is a beauty/of dissonance,/this resonance” (23-25). By this quote, he means that even though the land is not perfect, there is something to be found under imperfection such as something beautiful. Dumont repeats, “this land is not” three times throughout the poem to make sure the readers understand that the land is not to be taken advantage of.

In both of the poems, the land is more than just a place to live. “Not Just a Platform for My Dance” compares the land to a teacher. “this land is not/just a platform for my dance” (13-14) is a good quote to explain that the land is not just there for everyone’s wants, but for everyone’s needs. Dancers do not necessarily need a platform to perform but students need teachers to learn from. “The Lonely Land” simply explains the land in precise facts. A quote that describes the land is “When the wind/bends the tops of the pines/and curdles the sky/from the north. (31-34). When Smith says this, he helps the readers get a better understanding of the land. The main sight device in Dumont’s poem is personification because of the way the land teaches us to not be greedy. “this land is/my tongue my eyes my mouth” (6) is an excellent example of personification because the land is given characteristics of a human face. A metaphor is used when Dumont says “are my prayer/they are my medicine/and they become my song” (10-12). The land is compared to these three things because in order to survive, people need these. The Lonely Land” uses personification to make the poem more interesting. “lean one way” (11) is referring to a tree but it actually means that even when humans struggle, they do not fall down. When referring to the duck call “and stagger and fall,” (18), Smith also means that when humans fall, they still have confidence to move on. Although the two poems studied have similarities and differences, both poems are looked upon as more similar because of the way the land is more than just a place.

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