Pre-AP English 9/4
December 6, 2012
Eugene Field ~ Close to the Heart “Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling. A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually-- that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too-- but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling.”--Muriel Rukeyser. No poet quite epitomizes this truth as exactly as Eugene Field. His poems call to the heart of a reader as sincerely as they came from his heart when he wrote them. His poems are all about very personal emotions and yet may be easily related to one's own. Eugene Field's love of his family, the loss of his small son, and his strong Christian religion contributed to the common themes of love of family, the pain of loss, and faith in God throughout his poetry. To begin, Eugene Field's love of his family greatly shows in his poetry. He and his wife Julia had a total of eight children. Two of these died as babies, and another died as a little boy. The remaining five, however, grew up and lived long lives. Throughout his life, Field was a wonderful father, and valued his family greatly. He loved his children very much, and wrote countless lullabies for them. One example is his most widely known poem, “Wynkin, Blynkin, and Nod”. In it he writes, “So shut your eyes while mother sings Of wonderful sights that be And you shall see all the beautiful things As you rock in that misty sea.”(41-44).
The lullaby is filled with imagery for dreaming and a gentle tone that invites sleep. After marriage Field arranged for all money that he ever earned to go directly to his wife and children for the rest of his life. He especially loved his beautiful wife, and wrote her a poem every year both on Valentine's Day and on their anniversary. One such poem is “A Valentine to my Wife”. He writes: “You are as fair and sweet and tender, Dear brown-eyed little sweetheart mine, As when, a callow youth and slender, I asked to be your Valentine.” (9-12)
Field was writing to his wife, telling her that she was as beautiful then as she was when they first met. He also pokes fun at himself, calling himself 'callow', which means inexperienced or immature. Throughout his poems, Eugene Field refers to his little boy that passed away and his pain and heartache are very clearly written. This boy was very special to Field, especially after loosing two children as babies before him. Having this boy live to be a toddler meant a great deal to him, and broke his heart all the more when he died. Many poems are dedicated solely to this son, while many others simply mention him. Field's poem “Little Boy Blue” is all about his little boy. An excerpt reads; “And as he was dreaming, an angel song / Awakened our Little Boy Blue,--” (13-14). This is a figurative way of writing about his son's death, as well as his belief in an afterlife. On the other hand, in the lovely poem “Lullaby”, his son is not mentioned until the end; “That does not hear his mother's song; / But angel watchers- as I weep- / Surround his grave the night-tide long.”(22-24). This is another way he refers to his son's death, as well as Christianity. There is, despite the loss of two other children besides his little boy, such a firm and faithful trust in God