What would be points of analysis in the two poems "The White Tiger" by R. S. Thomas and "The Gift" by Chris Banks?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one area to analyze in each poem is how each focuses on "the moment."  In both poems, there is an eternal present which defines the contours of each.  Both poems can be compared to one another in how they recognize the specific moment as one that is a part of time, but also seems to transcend it.  For example, Thomas does not lose sight of the moment when he is awed by the creature that stands before him.  The recognition of this particular instant can be seen in lines such as "lifting, as it turned, the crumpled flower of its own face to look into my own."  Thomas recognizes the moment in which both glances meet, an instant that defines one's place in the world.  It is an instant that both is part of the present, yet has a feel that moves beyond it.  This same experiences can be seen in Banks's "The Gift." The description of an accident and the recuperation which takes place as a result of it gives way to a construction of a type of present tense that is eternal: "And if I am a fool to give thanks for the pain as well as the tenderness and even if, as some would say, there are no accidents..." The speaker invokes an understanding that the present moment, one where the past of the accident collides with the tenderness her son displays in the present, has collapsed time.  It is both of this moment and outside of it.  In both poems, comparable treatment of the present tense can be seen.

The role of emotional perception is another area where both poems can be compared to one another.  Emotions are differently articulated in both works. In Thomas's rendering, emotions are internally reflective.  They occupy a central place in the way the speaker understands the reality he experiences.  The opening moment being described as "beautiful" shows how the speaker understands the immensity of the moment.  Emotions are not used to distance himself from this instant.  They help merge him within it.  Emotions help to enhance the speaker's ability to communicate the imagination of the moment, an instant where moral and ethical vision is enhanced.  This same type of emotional connection in which a moment in time is seen as something more can be seen in "The Gift," where the parent understands how her child has emerged to be a caretaker himself: "My tall, cool son of sixteen/ kissed the top of my head/ and over the curve of my shoulder/ laid his arm."  There is an emotional acknowledgement of the moment, similar to Thomas's construction, in which the instant acquires greater meaning because of the emotions connected to it.  In this regard, another layer of comparison between both poems is evident.

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