by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
You choose the poem, and I annotate!
This is the first in a series of posts I'm planning in which fans of the site send me a poem that they'd like to see visually annotated. This first one is Longfellow's "The Cross of Snow," a suggestion made by @CarrieSnowRice, and strangely enough a poem I was unfamiliar with. The reason that's a bit strange is that one of my favourite books in the Graphic Poetry series is of Longfellow's wonderful poem, Paul Revere, illustrated by the incomparable, Mike Rooth.
Despite being unfamiliar with the poem, the brainstorming yielded some very cool results. I think the beauty of the poem has to do with a single letter and that's the liquid "l" sounds that are strong throughout the first part of the poem. They just soften everything, it seems. Compare this to the rise of the "s" sounds later in the poem, where you almost can feel the scars that Longfellow endured in attempting to save his wife from the accidental fire that consumed her (her dress came into contact with an ember and she caught on fire, dying later from her injuries). The sonnet form is crucial as well: it's Miltonic, but the sestet doesn't seem to resolve what is raised in the octave, except if Longfellow is seeing his suffering as akin to Christ's. Then he must realize, of course, that bearing the scars and enduring the loss, and keeping vigil over his wife's memory are all that he has.
Next up, I think we're going to lighten the mood with some Sylvia Plath. Look for "Morning Song" in an upcoming post!
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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