Wasps Nest Commentary
————————————————- The Wasp’s Nest The Wasp’s Nest by James L Rosenberg describes the struggle of power between the poet and the two birds that are building their nest. The poet uses the wasps and their nest as a symbol to show reality of the humans. Finally, at the end the poet realizes that his life too is like that of the wasps and thus starts to sympathize with them. The poet structures the poem in such a way to show the struggle of power between the wasps and the humans and ends with a climax.
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The choice of words and literary techniques such as onomatopoeia, imagery and metaphors are used to portray the power struggle between the two creatures. The poet uses some rhythmic tones such as “stranger” “danger”, “hum” “come” in order to give a smooth flow to the poem. However the use of punctuations is very limited. They are mostly used when there is a change in ideas or to emphasize on a certain point. For instance, when describing the birds he says, they “resonantly, savagely a-hum, have lately come”. Here one notices the stress that the punctuations are creating on the strength of the birds.
At the commencement of the poem, the poet highlights the strength of the wasps. Using a metaphor he describes them as “two aerial tigers”, by comparing them to a tiger one gets the impression that they are strong and ferocious. Moreover using imagery he says that they are “stripped in ebony and gold”. This makes the reader feel the importance that the poet has made upon the wasps. By using color like gold and ebony instead of black and yellow, we see that the poet gives them a sort of richness. Just as how one would treasure those metals, the same way the poet treasures the wasps because he can connect his life to theirs.
He then uses onomatopoeia to describe the sound that the wasps make “resonantly” and “savagely”. This stress on their strength that they are trying to lay upon in the world. However in the next few lines the poet tries to show his struggle of power against that of the wasps who are trying to build their nest in the poet’s mailbox. Though in the first few lines of the poem the poet shows the strength of the wasps, this power however in not recognized by the world. The word “thought” indicates the uncertainty of the wasps. Moreover their nest is described as “insubstantial” that is built on the poets “mailbox’s mental hold” (alliteration).
This shows the reality of human, even a strong and powerful animal such as the wasps are demeaned to a very insignificant creature in the world. This arouses pity in the mind of the readers. Then again in the next few lines the wasps are shown to have more power than that of the poet. He says the wasps are neither scared of the “sore displeasure of the U. S mail” nor by “threats and warnings” of the poet. Unlike humans the wasps aren’t afraid of the position that the authorities hold. Moreover the poet irritation can be shown when he realizes that nothing can “turn” them from what they are doing.
This sense of annoyance and irritation of the poet can be contrasted to the calmness of the wasps, which continue to do their work with “hummed devotions”. The use of onomatopoeia to describe the action of the wasps creates a calm and smoothing effect on the reader. Moreover this highlights the contrast in mood between the poet and the wasps. This further emphasizes human reality of anxiety and worry. Unlike the birds, humans get worried very quickly and easily at the smallest possible occurrence such as the building of a nest.
In the next few lines the struggle of power goes back to the poet. He states that he has the strength to destroy the home of the wasps, but the sudden hesitance foreshadows his feeling towards the wasps, which he only reveals at the end of the poem. The poet uses very strong and powerful diction in order to show his superiority – “strength”, “danger”, “crush” and “blow”. However the poets show his lack of confidence and uncertainty when he says, “I think they know my strength” and “One blow could crush them and their nest”.
This contradicts what he says earlier, where he said that there was nothing that could turn the wasps away. This emphasizes the confusion and uncertainty that the humans have unlike the birds who are indifferent to everything around them. Finally the poet suggests two possible reasons for the indifference that the wasps show towards the poet and the world. Either they are “too” engrossed in their own work and can’t be bothered about what is happening outside or probably they know that the poet will understand them and let them live. There is a sudden shift of tone that is seen here.
Unlike the lines before where there was a constant struggle between the two. At the end the tone shifts where the poet empathized and understood the wasps better. In order to show his empathy he says, “I am not in nor of them”. The poet at this point shows the wasp shares with the humans. Both are living “in an alien and gigantic universe, a stranger”. Just like the wasps we too are living in a huge universe, however all of us are still a stranger as insignificant and alone the wasps feel in the world where their strength is diminished to a great extent.
At this point, the reader is made to feel sympathetic for these creatures. To further show the similarities that the two share, the poet uses an oxymoron to describe them building the fragile citadels of love”. He compares their home to the citadels of love. Citadels are usually forts that are strong and sturdy. However its occurrence with the word fragile, underlines the fact that just like humans they may seem to be strong and courageous but within themselves they too are weak and delicate.
The poet finally ends by saying that they live in this world filled with “danger”. This further emphasizes the resemblance between the birds and the humans. Both live in the world filled with danger around it. The poet ends in a positive note, by saying that two completely different creatures, the wasps and the humans, share the same experiences and go though the same struggles as each other. The poet finally ends the struggle of power continued throughout the poem and ends with the wasps and humans being equal.