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I personally really enjoyed this poem. As I was reading other people's impromptu's, I noticed that most people said that the poem reflected the speakers navigation through death. I am wondering if anyone had any other interpretations or if anyone would like to expand a little bit more upon what they wrote in the impromptu!
I saw the poem as mirroring the stages of grief that psychologists lay out. Each visit is a psychological progression in which the speaker is wrestling with the concept of death. There are four visits to the dead groundhog which could represent the stages of hypothetical grief that humans experience: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The language in each stage changes indicating that the speaker has moved onto a new level of reaction to death.
I really enjoyed this poem as well. At first, I did not like the conflicting word choices used when describing the groundhog- it was gross and then a positive attitude and then troubled all too fast. But, after finishing it and reading through again, I realize that that was the beauty in it. It showed all the ups and downs and stages of grief even though the narrator and the groundhog had never crossed paths until its death. It showed the power of death when it is more of a loss to the earth than it ever would be to the narrator.
Also, time seemed to be very warped through this poem which I thought was interesting. In the first half of the poem, the narrator described the groundhog, the summer, what he was thinking, and back again. This made the poem flow faster, because then it jumps to August, then to the next season, then the next year, then three years. Time exponentially travelled slower and slower, so I think there needs to be a reason for this. Like I stated in my previous post, this poem likely represents grief. So, if the beginning's contradictory words represent the emotions of grief, perhaps the representation of time in this work shows how these emotions get better and less confusing, because time heals?
I also found that I really enjoyed this poem. Towards the beginning, I didn't really see how a poem about a groundhog would have such a meaningful view on mortality and the cycle of life. The title also seemed strange to me. Reading on, though, I realized that by using something as simple as a groundhog, it really helped push the theme of mortality onto the reader. I also really enjoyed the chronology of the poem and how it structured both the time and the theme as well, taking the reader on the journey with the speaker.
I also really enjoyed this poem a lot. It wasn't too hard to follow, but it was also very complex in meaning at the same time, which is just the kind of poem I like. I felt that the story was executed very well in a manner that kept me want to read what happens next, and I also liked how his emotion changed every visit, which made the poem more intriguing.
@username27, this is a really interesting interpretation that I've never thought of. I interpreted as the speaker being fearful originally of the idea of death, and then slowly growing and realizing that death is inevitable. But I really like your interpretation of it. I think it's super interesting because it connects to a real life concept pretty spot on. Especially with the four visits that he had and how they connect with the four stages of grief.
@username27 Your interpretation is much deeper than mine was, but I'm glad I found this thread because you make a great point! After going back and reading it again and correlation it with the information from chapter four this makes total sense. Though I only saw three cases of the narrator going back to the groundhog I could see how you found four. I myself wrote about his struggle with death and how coming back to the corpse created a sense of well-being when it came to his own mortality. Though I could've gone deeper with my thesis if I looked at it the way you did I could've expanded a lot more.
After I read through the poem completely I noticed the stages of grief the same way @username27 did. Once I realized that it had made a lot more sense to me why Chisnell chose this poem in particular. I also was thinking about who Eberhart had lost. I think he was going through said stages, or recently had gone through them, and then decided to write about them.
Afraid of his own mortality the speaker in The Groundhog by Richard Eberhart witnesses the metamorphosis of a dead groundhog, as we observe his emotional changes related to death and decay. Not many breaks in the poem itself we have to decipher the change in thought through the words and phrases used. Observing the groundhog for three years we see the speaker's stance on death change. Toward the beginning we have a sense that he is afraid of death as a whole. As we move forward, the diction used shows us that he realizes that death is not something one can simply run away from.
Introduced to the groundhog in June we see the speaker reference his “naked frailty”, thus reminding him of his own mortality. Frailty, a reference to a sort of weakness, how can it be naked? This is a reference to show us how sincere he is about his fear of death. Though his sense becomes “dim” while observing how nature shows no remorse towards the groundhog, he becomes overwhelmed. He believes nature to be “ferocious”. This can be seen as he references the “maggots might” on the groundhog while the sun shines with “Vigour”. Most readers will notice that vigour in line 14 is capitalized. This is a strategy to emphasize that nature is cruel to those who die. Praying on his knees to find “joy in the sight of decay.” He leaves the groundhog. Allowing the reader to comprehend that merciless and cruel are the only way to describe the speaker's current view on decay and nature.
Everything the speaker felt in his previous visit has changed. He may see nature as “ferocious” but he does not despise nature for being that way. He has become “Mured up in the wall of wisdom.” The speaker, in a way has lost his disapproving views on nature and decay, as he becomes more emotionally mature.
The last visit, there is nothing but a bit of hair and bones left yet we still see how he has changed. He does not feel any sort of anguish or despair, rather he starts to see the beauty behind the decay. Watching what is left of the groundhog we see him describe his observations just as one would describe some architecture. Thinking back to Ancient Greece, Alexander the Great and Saint Theresa he realizes that death is inevitable.
This poem is one of varying emotions towards death, we see this range portrayed within the speaker. The groundhog only brought up thoughts of the speaker's mortality in the beginning. Throughout this piece we see the speaker grow or in a sense mature emotionally and his views on decay change dramatically. He is fully able to comprehend the inevitability of decay. In the end, realizes that everything one lives for will eventually die and decay. We see this variation in emotion through the specific diction Eberhart uses in this piece. Each word or phrase used takes us seamlessly through the speakers various thoughts, ideas and emotions towards this idea of decay, depicted through the groundhog.
@bunkymoo I agree with you! This poem was actually really easy to follow. It seems like it would be confusing because its just a bunch of words with no breaks, but it was a nice follow. They way the author sort of coded this meaning was very interesting, using the groundhog and specific word choice, we really got to pick out that meaning. The way that everything was described really allowed it to flow and keep the reader interested. This poem was packed with emotion, every visit we saw a new side to our speaker. Various emotional changes were seen though our speaker. The word choices and many other devices allowed us to better understand the underlying meaning the speaker portrayed.
The speaker in "The Groundhog" is a man who experiences remarkable change. He could only think about his mortality as he initially observed the rotting groundhog. Yet as time goes by, he develops emotionally and his perspectives on death and decay change significantly. He is prepared to comprehend the certainty that he and everything he comes to know will someday die.
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