The poem Before the Sun Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:27:48
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Category: Poem

Type of paper: Essay

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The poem Before the Sun tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who works as a lumberjack. However, he does not seem to hate this job. On the contrary, he finds the chopping of the wood a very pleasant activity, almost like a ritual. At the end of the days work, he offers his food to the Sun, somebody whom he admires and respects.

The title of the story can have several interpretations, all very suggestive about the poem. Literally, it might refer to the time of the day when the Sun has not risen yet, his time to work; alternatively, it might mean that the boy kneels down before the Sun, as in praise, which he sees as a kind of god or protector. On a metaphorical level, it may mean that a new day is about to begin, but also the fact that the kid is on the limit between childhood and adulthood, because he works as an adult but behaves like a child: One for the Sun, one for me.

The boys description of his routinary but apparently pleasant activity of chopping wood is very detailed indeed. He describes every moment of the process, from the moment he chops off the wood until the chips settle down in showers on the dewy grass, referring to the noises, smells and sights. It is clear that the kid follows this activity almost like a ritual, and enjoys every moment of it. This is exemplified when he describes the chips falling off from the wood as if it took eternities.

The authors choice of writing the word arc in a single line is very effective in the sense that it creates a feeling of pause and climax, which is exactly what the boy seems to feel when he chops off the wood. It appears as if the boy enjoys the moment when the bright chips fly from the sharp axe, because it is a symbol that the kid is strong enough to kill a tree. The proximity of the words arc and eternities give the sensation of a slow motion, giving the reader a pause to watch this process isolated from the rest.

Another way in which the boy feels about his work seems to be like a challenge for him. This can be noticed when he says when you are fourteen, big logs are what you want. This phrase gives the idea that the boy is prepared to do tough work for his own sake. Apparently he wants to show that chopping wood is no hard work for him; it may be so, but he prefers to consider it a challenge rather than a problem.

He then proceeds to appreciate the sweet nose-cleansing odour of the wood. This is evidence that the boy really finds his job enjoyable, and takes time to value these little, apparently insignificant, details.

On the following stanza the boy describes the smoke coming up to the sky as a signal of some sort, or a sacrificial prayer. This refers to the fact that the boy sees the chopping of the wood as a ritual that means everything to him. Probably, he may be trying to express the passion he puts in his work. One thing that is clear is the fact that the boy really believes that what he is doing is a sacrifice, and in the following stanzas we realize who it is for.

The moment the Sun shows up in the East, the boy seems to get excited, as he describes the Sun as a latecomer to a feast. In this case, the feast refers to the fact that the kid has been able to do his work. The relationship he establishes with the Sun is a really strange one; for moments it is described as superior, the Sun just winks like a grown-up, but then he seems to consider it a friend and a partner: I tell the Sun to come share with me the roasted maize. Nevertheless, at all times he expresses his respect for the Sun, like thanking him for all he has got.

The boys moment in life when he is neither a child nor an adult is very well written in this poem. The contrast between what he does and what he feels creates the line that divides these stages. While the kid works as a lumberjack, just like any adult, he behaves like a child, thinking of the Sun as a god to praise and respect. The fact that he appreciates every step of his work also suggests that he is still somehow a child.

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