An Analysis of “Spring in the Classroom” by Mary Oliver

In her poem “Spring in the Classroom,” Mary Oliver utilizes a variety of imagery to juxtapose nature with the dry academic environment. The mention of “pulsing initials” being carved into the desks is an example of organic imagery. The idea of one’s initials going through the pains of being carved exaggerates the pain of wasting away in a classroom in which the students feel they have been carved into. This kinesthetic image of the classroom, being presented as the final destination for “pulsing” beings, is further supported by Oliver’s description of the aging teacher. Oliver allows one to place themselves in the position of an elderly woman who has been wasting away while sitting on a chair for so long that her legs swell up- perhaps because her “pulsing” has slowed down. The idea of being suffocated by the oppressive atmosphere of the academic environment is further emphasized using olfactory imagery when Oliver speaks of the “chalky air” the students are forced to breath. 

The poem speaks of the mundane nature of the academic environment that robs children of their patience. Over the course of the poem, the tone of the narrator- a former child- changes from longing “to catch glimpses…of the greening…” to restlessness as the children “carve their pulsing initials  into the desks” to downright vengefulness as they “[plotted] mutiny” against their teacher, who they perceived to be their insentient oppressor. Mary Oliver used exaggeration to emphasize the detrimental effects of captivity on the mind of an individual. The restrictive academic environment had similar corrosive effects on the well-being of the teacher. This is emphasized by the juxtaposition of her having “stony” eyes while she is inside the classroom and “blooming…in the art teacher’s arms” once the limitations of the school day cease to apply to her.  

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An Analysis of Accounting by Natasha Trethewey

Through her poem “Accounting,” Natasha Trethewey  teaches one to appreciate the mundane tasks that one has the opportunity to do with their loved one. The act of accounting was glorified in the poem using the actions of the female companion of the poet. The poet described her simple actions of “crowding the card table with coin banks…” with carefully analysed detail, making the reader consider it to as a significant action. 

The poem also teaches one that the way one perceives a situation can affect the reality of that situation. One can see accounting as a tedious, time consuming  necessity or as a tranquil pastime on a hot summer night.  The poet describes the minute elements of spending time with someone during the  process of accounting to portray it as a proper activity to be doing on a “[night] too warm for TV”.

The concluding line states that the “foundation” of their house is “packed solid” with jars of coins collected during their accounting sessions. This implies that the time the two spend accounting is intimate to them as it acts as a foundation for their relationship. This may also subliminally imply that the foundation of a home is on money.

All rights reserved © 2019 Josephine Joyil