Thefour poems have a thematic similarity especially on the theme of lifeand death. The voices in the poems are express emotion for deadlyexperiences that characters go through while also explaining thesadness of death and the grief it brings to the people aroundvictims. The first poem whose main theme is life and death is BillCollins’ “Picnic, Lightning”. The poem expresses deepsentiments about death in the first three stanzas and flips it up bytalking about life in the last stanza. Perhaps, Collins intended tocreate a feeling of relief for the reader that even in the wake ofdeath, life is worth celebrating. For instance, the first three linesin the first stanza express Collins’ sentiments about thesuddenness of death rather than the sadness it elicits. Death canstrike anywhere and anytime regardless of the occasion. The linesread as follows: “It is possible to be struck by a meteor/or asingle-engine plane/While reading in a chair at home”.
ThornGunn’s “Sacred Heart” also expresses the same sentiments ofdeath. However, Gunn chooses to do so through the dying experienceof a sick man. The pain of death is excruciating for both the dyingman and the one watching as he dies. In the poem, Gunn says,“Exhausted by the fretful reflexes/jerked from the torpor of”. Although this happens in a dream the pain of death is evident in thepoem. Gunn’s sentiments on the pain of death are different from theother poems because, the tone is religious and symbolic. Gunndeliberately divides the poem to show the detachment of the personain the poem from the reality and pain of death the sick manexperiences. However, the persona’s effort to deal with the griefmakes him to be dragged “from room to room” and “preserve itfrom closure, from a healing”. It is evident from Gunn’s pomethat death is a painful experience, which relieves those sufferingfrom sickness such as the sick man in the poem. Death may not feelthe same for those watching over a dying person, but there experiencereminds them that they will face the fate one day. Gunn seems toagree with Pinsky, Collins, and Becker on the single fact that deathis painful to both the deceased and their loved ones.
RobertPinsky’s “The Saving” also shares the same sentiments about thepain of death. However, the young man choked when feasting on roastedmeat does not die but horrifies the people around him when he almostdies.Pinsky’s uses a descriptive style to show how horrific itis to die for both the victim and the onlookers. He writes, “Hestarted to choke and strangle/Gaping his helpless mouth/struggling toretch or swallow/ as he gestured, blacking out/ and felt his fatherlift him”. From these lines, the reader can clearly feel the painthat the young man goes through when the hot, raw meat chokes himclose to death.
Finally,Priscilla Becker’s “Letter after an estrangement” shares thesame message of the pain of loss due to the death of a loved. Thedifferent between Becker’s poem and the rest is that she does it anautobiographical manner. The reader feels that pain through herpersonal experiences after the death of her husband. The first stanzaembodies her predicament quite wholesomely. In the poem, Becker says,“I forgot to tell you my husband died/ he was in Spain andsomething strange happened/…..the house hates me/ And breakseverything touch/ I myself prefer to be left face up in a ditch.”The loss of her husband makes her feel alienated from everythingincluding her house.