In the poem, "The Haunted Oak", the poet uses descriptions that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing and touch. Give three examples of such desciptions used(one for each of the senses). How do these descriptions make you feel? Support your answer with references from the poem.
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Although it is never mentioned in the poem, this poem is thought to have been about the hanging of a black man. The story was told to Dunbar by an old Negro who nephew had been falsely accused of rape. This was in Alabama. The mob hanged him from a tree, and the tree withered and died. The people in the area, therefore, called it the Haunted Oak. The poem is written from the point of view of the tree.
The author appeals to senses. For sight, he says,
"But I saw in the moonlight dim and weird/A guiltless victim's pains." (Stanza two)
The tree could visualize the fact that the man was terrified. He didn't want to be hung. The reader can see the man resisting.
For hearing, the poem reads,
"I bent me down to hear his sigh; I shook with his gurgling moan" (Stanza three)
The man knew it was inevitable. He was going to be hanged. It is said that when a man is hanged, he gurgles at the end. This sound gives the reader a feeling of horror, it is something you don't want to hear.
Another sound is
"Oh why does the dog howl all night long,/ And why does the night wind wail?" (Stanza four)
These are natural references about crying. It gives the reader a feeling of sorrow and of injustice.
Finally, for the sense of touch,
"I feel the rope against my bark/And the weight of him in my grain/ I feel the throe of his final woe/ The touch of my own last pain." (Stanza 13)
It is as if the oak died with him. The tree feels his weight against him, his final kicks, his death and identifies with it to the point that the tree died also. The reader feels the empathy the tree has for the man.
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