The Wisdom Of Shelley and Prelude are the two poems that I chose because of the structure of how the stories blend in together as well as showing how the two poems connect with one another. George Elliot Clarke started the first stanza by using the phrase “You come down after, five winters, X” (Clarke 1, 2) he explains his fathers five year long depressing absence. We learn more about his father later on the poem. The letter X, in mathematics is known as a unknown which in this poem represents a unknown individual. Even though this persons identity is known to the narrator, Clarke keeps it hidden to represent that this abusive person could be anyone, therefore any person can have the power to hurt you in the same way the X person who hurt Clarke and his mother did
Winter is described in this sentence as a symbol of coldness and despair. From my understanding, the cold years of winter represent a dark, emotional, detached, five years of the father’s absence, and once he returns he brings promise of “April” (Clarke, 8) which in context obviously becomes a metaphor for spring, new beginnings, joy and even happiness which is the opposite of the long winters they had to endure without him. Of course we see in the next stanza that these promises of spring and renewal that come from the father are lies, as he says near the end of the poem, “And words do lie” (Clarke, 21, 22). Clarke also talks about the abasement that he witnessed his mother go through, “I heard pa tell ma, how much and much he, loved loved loved her, and I saw his fist, fall so gracefully, against her cheek, she swooned” Those seven stanza’s explain the trickery his father is known for and how people in abusive relationships are able to take control over their partners minds. Clarke wants to make sure that his readers are aware of how victims are blinded by their partners. His father claimed how much he loved his mother even though he would use his abuse has a proclamation of love when it clearly isn’t but the irony in these stanzas are strong because Clarke describes the abuse in such a graceful sense.
Even though the second poem, Prelude, comes after the The Wisdom of Shelley in the collection, I believe that as its title indicates it is a precursor to the first poem. In the last stanza of Prelude, Clarke writes “My gate’s open, My fruits are pleasant, Come and taste” (Clarke, 11, 12 &13). which compared to the end of The Wisdom of Shelley is almost like a full 180, “I’ve seen love die” (Clarke, 25). If we were to consider Prelude as the first part of these two poems, then in Prelude the character, who is his mother, in the poem is full of youth, lacking experience, even hopeful because she knew that “Men lie, to lie on top of you” (Clarke, 4 &5) but she decided to give him a chance because at the time she considered his every essence to be magical. Clarke describes it in the fourth to eighth stanzas by writing “X, I know languages– Music or Silence, Touch or Absence- that need no words”, This para stanza is another clue that X is his father and also another way his mother was trapped into falling in love with his father.
Once his mother started realizing how her husband his treating her and beating her, the hope in The Wisdom of Shelly started to diminish, and even the narrator considers it extinguished in his eyes. Clarke describes his mother in Prelude before she has a victim and goes onto The Wisdom of Shelly, and talks the about the abuse he witnessed as a child happen to his mother, which makes his experience towards feelings emotions such as love , “I’ve seen love die”, (Clarke, 24, 25), and trust “And words do lie” (Clarke, 22,23) vague because he scared of the feeling of betrayal that his mother feels if he allows his gardens to open.