In Response To:
Journal#8 Carol Lin
Page 1 No.59
Poetry (3)-Neutral Tone
After reading the whole poem, we know that the word "tone" here is a pun, which means "an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings." In this poem, two different "tones" indicate "voice showing feeling" and "types of a particular color." More than coincidence, the title word "neutral" is also meaningful to both tones. "Neutral tone" in voice shows the speaker's calm attitude toward his failed love. He doesn't express strong opinion or feeling. He just describes many visual memories. "Neutral tone" in color is the use of "gray" to build up the deadly atmosphere.
I think the biggest success of this poem is the good use of imagery. Instead of telling details of this "dead-end" love, the speaker describes more about the surroundings where his lover and he used to be. The season-"winter" gives us an "end" feeling for it's the last season of a year and everything seems to turn dead. Then, the "sun" is chidden by God. What a bad sigh! And there are leaves fallen from an ash, "eaten" by the starving sod. Usually even in winter, leaves won't be "gray." So, from all those bleak, deadly, and unusual scenery, we are strongly hinted that actually it's the reflection of the speaker's hopeless mood. It's much more touching to serve nature as a foil to his feeling. Through the personified scenery, it's like the whole world feels the same sad with him.
In the last stanza, "imagery" plays an important part, too. The combination of all his vivid memory-"Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree, and a pound edged with grayish leaves." comes together like a conclusion of the whole poem and also of his failed love. The continuous visual images show how human's memory works. Now, when the speaker tries to recall his past love, all he has is only those flashing scenes.
I like this poem not only for its well-arranged scenery and atmosphere but also for the powerless sadness when love's died. "The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing alive enough to have strength to die¡K" The contrast in this line really shows how obvious the lie his lover tells. But it seems that the speaker has a hard time struggling if he should face the truth. After all, it's hurt to give away your love. At last, he still has to give up for they aren't meant to each other. This poem truly reflects when love ends, how everything turns away to lovers and how lovers grow through failed love experience.