Absence by Elizabeth Jennings (1958) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Absence by Elizabeth Jennings (1958) Deck (8)
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Time changes everything. Poet is reminiscing on a happy memory and thinking about how much his life has changed since he was last at the place. The place represents a loss in the speaker's life. It once held warm and happy memories but now is cold and empty.


Form and Structure

The poem has 3 stanzas each with five lines. They follow the standard ABAB rhyme scheme with 10 to 11 syllables in each line.


' I visited the place where we last met.'

The 'we' refers to a loss of a person/relationship. It may be due to a death or a relationship breakdown.


'Gardens were well-tended'

This means that life goes on and causes her to question how that can be.


'The thoughtless birds that shook out of the trees'

This reveals the speaker's sense of anger at the loss she has experienced. She wonders how the birds could go on singing in ecstasy when such a tragic loss has taken place.


'Pleasures there could not be a pain to bear'

She suddenly wondered how there could possibly be such a pain in the world when there was also such pleasure.


'It was because the place was just the same'

She was in a place that brought back sweeter memories, and yet reminded her of what she no longer had.


'An earthquake tremor'

There was an underlying pain that shook her to her core like an earthquake shakes the earth.