Friday, January 15, 2010

The Bat by Theodore Roethke

The Bat
Theodore Roethke


By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.

He likes the attic of an aging house.

His fingers make a hat about his head.

His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.

He loops in crazy figures half the night

Among the trees that face the corner light.

But when he brushes up against a screen,

We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:

For something is amiss or out of place

When mice with wings can wear a human face.


Speaker: In the poem, the speaker is just a speaker. He is not in the poem and he does not have an important role in the poem, he just describes what is happening in the poem.


Diction: Words that the speaker uses are more abstract and can't really be generalized. He uses words such as "crazy," "brushes," "pulse," "aging," and "amiss."


Imagery: Examples of imagery in the poem are "attic of the aging house," "His fingers make a hat about his head," "He loops in crazy figures half the night," "Among the trees that face the corner light," "Brushes up against a screen," and "when mice with wings can wear a human face."


Figurative Language: Figurative language in this "When mice with wings can wear a human face" There aren't many examples of figurative language in this poem, in fact, I can't seem to find one. This is an example of the poet's leniency towards the real world and his choice not to use figurative terms.

Patterns: The rhyme scheme in the poem is A, A, B, B, C, C, D, D, E, E. Other than that, there are no patterns.

Meaning: The meaning of the poem is that we shouldn't be scared of creatures because they have human characteristics as said in the line "for something is amiss or out of place when mice with wings can wear a human face."

3 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful reasource for getting started thank you!!!here's what I found


    In the last lines Roethke conveys his message: “For something is amiss or out of place. When mice with wings can wear a human face” (Roethke 9-10). Clearly Roethke chose his diction to convey that bats are not harmful just because they are mice with wings that wear a human face. Roethke begs the question: why the connotation that bats eat humans? He can blame Hollywood for that connotation. Several movies having made bats only out to be blood sucking horrible creatures. Also the vampire bat can be blamed for the connotation that bats drink people’s blood. Although most vampire bats prey on sleeping cattle, but they have been known to feed on people as well. Their bite can leave infection and disease. However, Roethke wrote this poem with a purpose to reform the reputation of bats. The verses Roethke writes makes the bat seem whimsical: “He loops in crazy figures half the night” (Roethke 5). Have we let Hollywood forever mark bats as dangerous, harmful, blood-sucking creatures? Are we missing out on enjoying one of God’s unique creation by only focusing on the negative aspects of this animal species? Looking deeper into the Roethke’s message one may see their own judgmental perception of bats come out. That judgmental mindset most likely carries over into the way one sees not only bats but other human beings. Roethke points out a life lesson to all readers like the saying don’t judge a book by its cover; don’t judge a bat by its wings and human face.

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  2. quite okay.its one of the explanations i found and the one i relied for my use

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  3. I like this poem very much and I totally disagree with the analysis so far.

    I think the author just gives an analysis of how mere suggestion leads us to fear bats, and in my opinion he is not conveying the message "do not fear bats" in any way.

    Moreover none of you pointed out that the bat is described differently between day and night, in fact ignoring verses 1-4 that are functional in the analysis (they were written for a reason).

    The author says that during the day we don't fear bats because they go into hiding, so we mostly don't see them, and because even if we stumble upon a sleeping bat it stands still (we think him dead), his face covered, so there is nothing to fear.
    The situation changes during the night, when the bat becomes more active, and we can see from afar his fast twirls suggesting "crazyness". Finally, when they are close and we can see their face, the mere suggestion that it seems to resemble a human face makes us uncomfortable, leading us to fear.

    A key to understanding the structure of the poem is that there are many images which refers to human suggestion rather than objective reality:
    - "By day the bat is cousin to the mouse."
    meaning that from our point of view they behave the same (hiding).

    -"His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead." of course the bat is sleeping, but our suggestion tells us he seems to be dead.

    - "He loops in crazy figures half the night" the bat is hunting insects, but from our point of view it is only looping crazily.

    These verses give more power to the conclusive suggestion, meaning that despite we know that the face of a bat does not resemble a human face, if our mind suggests this comparison we can't help to feel uncomfortable because it conveys an image outside our logic, "for something is amiss or out of place, when mice with wings can wear a human face.".

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