A man is working in a garden when he writes a letter to his wife. The wife reflects on their different lifestyles. She wonders whether life is more fulfilling because he’s closer to nature. They feel a world apart but write letters to each other to feel connected

Ideas and Themes:

  • Nature
  • Longing
  • Distance

Structure:

  • First 3 stanzas show the different lives they live and last 2 show the deep connection

Form:

  • Written in free verse giving a natural flow and a speech like presentation.
  • Enjambment allows stanzas to flow freely; continuous movement reflects how seasons are constantly changing.
  • 3 Line stanzas suggest disjointed relationships and shows how they are disconnected

Language:

  • Planting Potatoes” alliteration shows this is routine and normal for him
  • “His knuckles singing” Caesura shifts focus from ordinary actions to personification and shows the delight he feels when he writes to his wife
  • “You out there, in the cold”- Monosyllabic words reflect his simple way of life
  • “seasons, turning”- Enjambment shows difference between seasons
  • “Feeding words onto a black screen”feeding” shows forcefulness and commitment. Shows contrast with him feeding with potatoes. Her actions are artificial compared to his natural. “Black screen” sounds lifeless to his earlier knuckles “singing”
  • “Is your life more real because you dig snow?”- Rhetorical question in the middle of the stanza shows the central idea of the poem.
  • Breaking ice with your waterbutt, clearing a path” Mundane actions show that he sees his life as ordinary but he also connects with nature.
  • “snow. Still” Caesura shows an alternate perspective. He thinks its ordinary but she doesn’t
  • “Sends me word of the other world” The words sound similar and shows they are close but also signify their difference.
  • “Pouring air and light into an envelope”- More natural than the words she writes. An almost magical description showing she romanticises their letters they write
  • “our souls tap out messages across the icy miles” “Souls” show their spiritual connection and “icy miles” shows her dislike of them being so far apart even though communication brings them closer despite this.

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