Descriptive Images in Two Hangovers by James Wright
Length: 565 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)
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As he slouches in bed, a description of the bare trees and an old woman gathering coal are given to convey to the reader an idea of the times and the author's situation. "All groves are bare," and "unmarried women (are) sorting slate from arthracite." This image operates to tell the reader that it is a time of poverty, or a "yellow-bearded winter of depression." No one in the town has much to live for during this time. "Cold trees" along with deadness, through the image of "graves," help illustrate the author's impression of winter. Wright seems to be hibernating from this hard time of winter, "dreaming of green butterflies searching for diamonds in coal seams." This conveys a more colorful and happy image showing what he wishes was happening; however he knows that diamonds are not in coal seams and is brought back to the reality of winter. He talks of "hills of fresh graves" while dreaming, relating back to the reality of what is "beyond the streaked trees of (his) window," a dreary, povern-strucken, and cold winter.
The end of Number one also reinforces the impression of winter. The image of a sparrow, generally a brown or dark bird, that "sings of the Hanna Coal
Co. and the dead moon," reinforces the description of winter once again, because there is no life during winter as opposed to a harvest moon in fall when it is warm, life is good, and food is plenty. "The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble," gives a very cold image and it is like music, but he can not listen to it.
This symbolizes he wants this coldness of winter to end, just like he wants the unpleasant sound to stop.
"(He) tries to waken and greet the world once again." In Number Two Wright begins with the description of a "brilliant blue jay" that "is springing up and down." This image is very happy. Blue is a bright color, along with the repetitive action of joy. This symbolizes spring, a time when the birds come out and new life grows. The author is happy to see the winter has gone, he laughs, and now he can actually go out into the world once again. He assures the reader of his confidence by what he states about the bird springing on the branch, "for he knows as well as I do that the branch will not break." There is no ice left, so the branch is not frozen. The trees are healthy, groves are coming to life, and now he can dream of happy things other than graves and coal.
Throughout each of the previous examples given, imagery and metaphors are used together. Imagery conveys a picture in the reader's mind in order to metaphorically describe a situation or time along with the changes of the seasons. Wright uses imagery of cold and dead objects to stand for winter. For him, winter is a bad time because it is very hard to endure coldness especially while being poor. He chose not to leave his bed, as if in a drunken state, hinting the use of the term "hangover." The second time he awakes his images show bright colors and happiness through laughter. Branches are strong, meaning things are growing like in spring. Altogether the poem is leading to his depiction of his life where he lives, where winters are harsh and spring and summer are the only times he chooses to go out into the world and be happy. He uses imagery to portray his life to readers in a form of art. This poem was very descriptive and draws the reader inside the house with the author through great visualization. Overall the poem represents a very good example of how imagery and metaphors work together to give an overall external and internal view of the authors story.