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The three poems

Apr 2, 2017 | 0 comments

Apr 2, 2017 | Essays | 0 comments

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The three poems discussed in this article. “When You Are Old” by Yeats, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Dickson and “Ex-Basketball Player” by Updike brings out overlapping themes. The theme of representation of regret is clearly seen in all the three poems. The authors are regretting their past time.

In the first poem of “When You Are Old,” the sleep symbolizing the impending death becomes the source of weariness of the individual “nodding by the fire.” The notion of the sleep which comes out packed into the moment where one is described as nodding by the fire is an indication promising deeper levels of understanding (Yeats, 12). Brought in the poem once, the content also is appealing the emotionally. This implies the journey to the old age from the youth is traced briefly in few phrases tightly packed, suggesting the sorrow reality, and time waste, and the regret of forsaking the love opportunity. The theme of regret is clearly shown  at this point in the poem as the narrator is brought out as regretting time he wasted, the sorrow he is undergoing and the opportunity for the love he forsake (Yeats, 14).

To further bring out the theme of regret in Dickinson poem of “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” the author uses personification and symbolism.  Dickinson begins creates personification of death as gentlemen to mean that death is something to respect and welcome. She states that they are all alone with death and immortality and staring out of the carriage window the three of them just to watch the memoirs and remains of her life (Dickinson, 21). The theme of regret further comes out in the following lines. “The school where the children played, their lesson done scarcely” This symbolizes the things she did not do or even tried to bring out the elements of regret. The “setting sun” also symbolizes the things she let slip by and let go to further show she was regretful (Dickinson, 16).

In the poem of “Ex-Basketball Player” by Updike (18), a lot of information comes out that American of the modern society is not aware. The people who were in those ages often have nostalgia and regret of the past. “juju beads” luncheonette and “Bubble Heads” pumps for gases are things of the past. The Esso station is also mentioned and it was common at the east coast. Furthermore, the gray greasy appearance of the employees’ uniforms of the service station was fairly dirty (Updike, 20). The theme of regret comes out when Flick would then get a scholarship, get out of college, and may be make it as a professional athlete or fail to do so. After going through rehab, he could later open his personal station if he had saved some cash (Updike, 21).

In conclusion the theme of representing regret has been vividly discussed and the thesis proved. The authors regret of their past deeds as they embrace their nostalgia. Yeats, Dickinson and Updike are all authors who are regretting all their past just because of the chances they never had, but also what they did not do when they had the opportunities.


Work cited

Yeats, W B, and Frederic Prokosch. When You Are Old. Grasse: Prometheus Press, 1982. Print.

Dickinson, Emily, and Susan Howe. Because I Could Not Stop for Death. Cambridge: ProQuest Information and Learning, 2004. Internet resource.

Updike, John. Collected Poems, 1953-1993. New York: Knopf, 1993. Print.


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