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 Post subject: What does it mean?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:54 pm 
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I found this rather obscure poem by William Golding (author of Lord of the Flies) and feel that it hides a great deal of meaning and symbolism. After all, Golding was known for being one of the most symbolic writers of all time.

This one makes you think, but they're always better that way. I wonder what the two names about halfway down symbolize? What is he trying to say about life and man's nature?

The Light Bulb Man

In a little-known town,
On a little-known street,
A man continued to frown,
Unable to reach that unreachable feat.

You see, this man manufactured light.
Yet as a light bulb maker never should,
He had only illuminated his plight;
Not one photon had his eyes withstood.

Thus it was his timeless quest--
Without end, without mend.
His vision, while he passed inevitably from East to West,
Became of a mountain, on the ground condemned.

Then one day came Withrow,
And Derrick shortly after.
In no time at all their bulbs came aglow;
But in light’s shadow there is no mirthful laughter.

Yet with a shrug of his shoulders,
And in his eyes a new glimmer,
He turned, his passion not colder,
Back to his work, his dream slightly dimmer.

Perhaps he was making no progress,
Or perhaps he was getting the knack--
He simply couldn't guess.
Yet day after day, he kept coming back.



If you catch the contradictions (like glimmer rhyming with dimmer, and others) it seems to create a bit of confusion. Ultimately I think the poem leaves you wondering, why? In fact, this poem simply poses a question about why we do the things we do in life; what keeps us motivated. In a way it answers this question, and in a way it doesn't. The last stanza clearly leaves you wondering.

What do you think?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:21 pm 
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Though I do not know who those names are, to me this poem seems to be about the technological evolution of man. And to me it seems to question if the so called advancements that have been made are truly progress and an improvment in the state of how many lives and views the worlds. Or if it was better when man was closer to the land.

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 Post subject: Evidence?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:48 pm 
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That's an interesting opinion. What specific evidence did you find in the poem for that assertion?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:01 pm 
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The way in which in the first half of the poem, it talks about nature, and elements of nature, and has a more primitive feel to it, as it mentions

Quote:
His vision, while he passed inevitably from East to West,


Which made me think of the sun which formally would have been the only source of light, next to the use of fire.

And then the way it said:

Quote:
You see, this man manufactured light.
Yet as a light bulb maker never should,
He had only illuminated his plight;
Not one photon had his eyes withstood.


This almost makes me think of the so called age of enlightment, when new discoveries were being made and people were starting to gain a new understanding of the world.

Then in the secound half of the poem, it feels more civizlied in a way and yet expresses feeling of doubtfullness.

Quote:
Then one day came Withrow,
And Derrick shortly after.
In no time at all their bulbs came aglow;
But in light’s shadow there is no mirthful laughter.


To me this seems to indcidate the true birth of technology and the mondern age in which more convinveces for daily living should be born.

But then at the end it says

Quote:
Back to his work, his dream slightly dimmer.


Quote:
Perhaps he was making no progress,


This seems to suggest that perhaps newer, is not always better, but it has reached at a point of no return as it says.

Quote:
Yet day after day, he kept coming back.

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Every man carries a circle of hell around his head like a halo. Every man, every man has to go through hell to reach his paradise.
Robert De Niro, Cape Fear


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 Post subject: Nice
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:46 am 
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Nice--I can't be sure if that's what he intended, but it would certainly make sense.

My own analysis, though, concerns something more innate and confined within a single man. To me, Golding is trying to portray the struggle that a man goes through during the course of life. Every person aspires in his youth to be the best--the most prolific writer, the fastest runner, the best baseball player, etc. However, it soon becomes evident to this person that their goal is clearly not achievable. This is clear in the line that goes: "His vision, while he passed inevitably from East to West, Became a mountain, on the ground condemned." At first he sees the way to the top of his business/undertaking, but as he grows older his passion (represented by the brightness of the sun) inevitably wanes as the sun sets in the West, and this person concedes that his goal canot be reached ("his vision becomes a daunting mountain, which can never be climbed").

Then you've got these two characters, Withrow and Derrick (notice how Golding takes two otherwise useless lines simply to introduce their names) who have names, whereas the poem's main character is nameless. The purpose of this is to portray how nearly all of mankind will remain in obscurity forever (with the exceptions, of course, of Derrick and Withrow, who represent the few geniuses among us that rise to prominence).

So now this guy is defeated and hopeless, "his dream slightly dimmer". Despite the bleak circumstances, though, he willingly returns to his work and continues his struggle with "a new glimmer" in his eyes. And this is where I am mystified--what does he mean by "new"? And the last stanza only emphasizes this ambiguity; it just leaves you wondering, why does he keep coming back? Perhaps Golding is leaving it up to us--why we do the things we do, even if we are "condemned" to live in the "shadows" of our famous and distant peers.


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 Post subject: Eh?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:34 pm 
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Does anyone other than me see that? Or am I totally off?


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