Summary Of The Great Enigma By Thomas Transtromer

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Throughout the collection “The Great Enigma”, Thomas Transtromer explores many aspects of the human psyche including that of fear. Through the use of dark and frightening imagery in the poems Alone, Kyrie, and Under Pressure Transtromer examines and explores the human fears of death, night and old age. Straight away we are introduced to the human fear of death in the poem Alone with the line “One evening in February I almost died here” which suggests he is revisiting a place that he associates with a dark event in the past. Throughout the next few lines Transtromer describes this near death experiences of driving in winter on icy roads to explore our fear of our imminent demise. He concludes stanza one by saying “the approaching cars – their…show more content…
The poem begins with the line “Sometimes my life opened its eyes in the dark” which sets the theme for the poem with the use of light and dark imagery to depict the dark as the unknown. The use of personification helps our contextual understanding of this line by relating this moment of realization to something we do often, open our eyes. In this case the dark is referred to the “blindness and anxiety” of living life in search of a miracle. When they open their eyes in this darkness they see their quest “towards a miracle” is futile and meaningless, which is seen as very dreary or dark. They “invisibly remain standing” isolated from everyone else who is in the dark. Both the images of isolation and blindness and anxiety in the fear of the unknown are dark and frightening images as they are human fears in themselves. In stanza two we see another scenario that describes another human fear using similar images to stanza one. In this case we are given the image of a “child [falling] asleep in terror”. This child is isolated in the dark, terrified in blindness “listening to the heart’s heavy tread” with anxiety of trying to find what lurks beneath the darkness. This image relates to the crowds of people drawing through the streets in stanza one, they are in the dark and so is this child. Transtromer’s use of repetition in “Slowly, slowly until morning puts its rays in the locks”…show more content…
We’re living on a shuddering worksite” which presents this poem with dreary and cheerless images. The use of personification in the fourth line “shells and telephones hiss” creates this image of discontent, as we can correlate hissing with something a snake or animal does when they are unhappy. Transtromer’s use of words with generally dark undertones, sets the theme for the rest of the poem. The second stanza begins by saying “You can see beauty only from the side, hastily” which refers to how beauty is a brief point of view, suggesting that as we get older our point of view changes. However through the use dark language throughout this stanza, Transtromer suggests that this change in view may not be for the better. An example of this is in line 3 with the phrase “The restless shadows in my head” which Transtromer uses as a metaphor for his ageing thoughts. By using the words “restless” and “shadows” to refer to these thoughts he is giving them a dark and unwanted aura. In the final stanza there is strong sense of loneliness throughout the final lines. The use of first person in the line “At midnight I go to bed” suggests that he may be alone. Also the time, midnight, implies that he may have been alone for a while as it is unusual for people as they age to stay up later.

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