I have been trying to post a question of my own but I guess this is the only way to do that. All I want is some advice on how I can better this essay and some techniques. This is a poetry analysis essay. Please give me your thoughts but don't be mean.
On Moonlit Heath and Lonesome Bank AP Lit Essay
By using the death of innocence as the central theme for the poem, AE Housman was able to illustrate how the impurity of the gallows can taint even the most peaceful of fields. In addition, the biblical allusions, resentful tone, and shift in stanzas help convey a deeper meaning about innocence, impurity, and death.
The first of many biblical references begins in the first stanza, line 4 at the mention of the “four cross ways”. As the speaker with his sheep stare on to the once violent field, it transcends from a mere field and becomes Calvary Hill. The four cross ways is no longer a road but a kind of cross that was used to crucify every prisoner in the jail, whether they were innocent or guilty. The allusion present in the first stanza allows the speaker to give the poem some religious depth and demonstrate that these hangings were as unjust as the crucifixion in Christian culture. In addition, the four cross ways along with the harsh “clank” in line 3 serves to foreshadow the extent of the torture most of those prisoners had to endure only to meet their demise in the end.
The second stanza begins with a playful euphemism about a shepherd that keeps his flock of sheep in a certain area seemingly protected, which gives the poem a kind of innocence. Perhaps the speaker not wanting to accept the reality of the situation invented the euphemism to bring light into a dark situation. What brings the poem back to its impurity is the mention of a dead man standing on air in line 8. In addition, lines 10-12 personify the train in order to give a final goodbye to the various prisoners awaiting their fate. Thus, begins the death of innocence in a story setting rather than in a poetic setting.
The third stanza, while brief, mentions an innocent man wrongly accused of a crime and sentenced to hanging. However, both the fourth and fifth stanzas portray the entire hanging process and death of an innocent man. In detail, the poem goes on to explain how a man, who could’ve been something more, ended up dead and his life cut short. The resentful tone present in this stanza proves that the speaker may have been close to this man. Aside from that, the diction gives the poem that personal touch needed for sympathy. With the death of this innocent man, the poem’s theme comes to a climax on how unjust the hanging became and the result.
The death of innocence can also be tied back to the biblical allusions present in this poem. The speaker’s friend could be seen as a religious figure, because among the many men that did deserve to die by hanging, he was less deserving of that fate and comparably better than most of the men that slept outside (lines 15 and 16). This biblical figure that the poem perceives demonstrates how high the speaker held his friend, and that the entire poem could be an extended metaphor. The metaphor would mean that even the good can get mistaken for the bad.
It could be that the biblical allusions and the death of innocence do make the poem more somber. However, he gains sympathy by holding his friend to the height of a religious figure. Therefore, he makes slight shifts between the stanzas, uses relatively archaic diction, and a regretful tone to express his sorrow for his friend and the horrid death he faced.