2/11/2019

"The Easter Wings" Summary and Critical Appreciation.

Summary:
This poem celebrates. Christ's Resurrection: That is, his coming back to life on the third day after his martyrdom. At the same time the poem expresses the writer's fervent aspiration to fly upwards like a
lark in order to achieve a spiritual elevation. Man was created by God in the midst of plenty but man lost his
plentiful wealth through his own folly and became (spiritually) poor. The poet is now in that poor condition but he seeks Christ's favour to rise, like a lark, to a higher state. On this Easter Sunday the poet would like to sing a song celebrating Christ's victory symbolised by his Resurrection.
The poet refers to the sorrows of his early life and to his sickness and humiliation afterwards. But his sufferings only increased his devotion to Christ. He would, on this Easter Sunday, like to become one with Christ and share Christ's victory over death. If Christ were to  engraft new feathers in the poet's damaged wings, the poet would regain his strength and would be able to rise upwards, like a lark. In other words, with Christ's help the poet would feel spiritually uplifted.
Critical Appreciation:
The first fact to be noted about this poem is the manner in which it is
written and printed. The first line of the poem is the longest, the
second line is shorter than the first; the third line is shorter than the
third; the fourth line is shorter than the third; the fifth and the ,
sixth lines are shorter than the fourth, each consisting of only two
words. Then, the seventh line becomes longer than the fifth and the
sixth; the eighth line is longer than the seventh; the ninth line is
longer than the eighth; and the tenth line is longer than the ninth. In
other words, the lines become shorter and shorter till we are left with only two words in each of the two lines in the exact middle of the
and then the lines again become longer and longer till we reach the tenth line which is almost as long as the first. The same pattern has exactly been followed in the second stanza. Not only that; there is another remarkable fact about the poem. Its shape (with the
length of the lines first decreasing and then increasing) resembles the
wings of a bird. As we look at the printed poem, we are reminded of
the wings of an eagle or a lark. A poem of this kind belongs to the
class of poetry known as "pattern poetry" Another poem belonging
to this category is “The Altar”, the shape of which reminds us of a
of worship and suggests the “Eucharist”. These two poems by Herber are also known as "hieroglyphic poems". The word "hieroglyph” means a figure, or a device, or a sign having a hidden meaning.

The significance of the title of the poem is also noteworthy “Wings” are relevant because the poet wishes to fly upwards like a lark or an eagle. He wants to fly upwards just as Christ ascended to heaven on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter is the festival celebrating Christ's ascension. On the occasion of Easter, the poet would also like to fly upwards. In his case, the flight is, of course, not a literal one but metaphorical in the sense of a spiritual elevation or regeneration.
The basic idea of the poem is that Paradise was lost by man through
original sin and that it was regained by christ’s martyrdom. But the poem also implies that a human being can achieve the regeneration of his spiritual personality through a realisation of his sinfulness through his consequent remorse. In the case of the poet, this spiritual regeneration coincides with the commemoration of Christ's ascension to Heaven on Easter-Sunday. There is also the explicit idea that the fall of man is the essential basis of his rise or his flight; in other words spiritual regeneration or rejuvenation is possible without sinfulness which is inherent in man's nature. The thinning down and the
lengthening of the lines convey the rhythmic movement of the larks
wings, and are intended also to convey the impoverishment and
enrichment respectively of the human soul. Thus the pictorial device of the poem fits its meaning exactly. The poem serves, in its own structure and detail, as a conceit or image for what is under discussion.

In “Easter Wings”, says a critic, the two stanzas are in the shape of wings and the sense expands and contracts as the lines lengthen and shorten; the shape of the wings on the printed page may have nothing but ingenuity to recommend it, but the diminuendo and crescendo that bring it about are expressive of both the rise and fall of the lark's song and of the lark's flight, and also expressive of the fall of man and his resurrection in Christ. However, there are critics who, because of such picture-poems, think of Herbert as a poet who liked to perform poetie stunts or toy with oddities. Such critics take an uncharitable view of the matter. The poet's sincerity is unquestionable, and his devotion to God and Christ undoubtedly genuine.

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