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Two of the poems from Songs of Ourselves (University of Cambridge International Examination) are Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" and Frances Cornford's "Childhood." The themes of the poems differ (although they are similar in the idea that both exist as a memory of an event and include images of death) and will be discussed individually.
"Because I could not stop for Death"
This poem, by Emily Dickinson, proves that one should not fear death given that death eventually comes for everyone. In this sense, one theme is unmistakable about death. The poem also speaks to both mortality and immortality. Given that the speaker was once mortal (given death came for her), the only way she could speak about her own death is if she was "now" immortal. Given that the speaker is a ghost, spirituality exists as a somewhat hidden theme in the poem. One final theme of the poem can be love. While not a blatant love poem, Death seems to covertly romance the speaker.
Frances Cornford's "Childhood" exists as a poem which illustrates a child's epiphany regarding the act of aging. Within ten short lines, Cornford's speaker offers the simplistic reality of growing old through the eyes of a child. The theme of this poem can be defined as helplessness (defined by its use in the poem). In regards to both the speaker and a friend of the speaker's great-aunt, both are helpless. The speaker is "helplessly young," and friend is "helplessly old." In a sense, while this seems to be negative given the typical denotative nature of helplessness, the poem speaks to the reality of helplessness. What this means is that we, as a mortal race, cannot control time or the effects of time on our own deaths. Therefore, helplessness is changed to be something that just is what it is given we cannot change certain things in life. Trying to change these things would be helpless.
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