My box

How does Clarke make growing old seem so moving?

The aforementioned poem is written by the much-fêted poet, Gillian Clark. The poem talks about the gift that Gillian Clark was given by her lover, and how their bond strengthened as they grew older. Thus, growing older is made to seem much more moving with the usage of repetitions, Polysyndetons, imageries metaphors.


The poem is started of with the repetition of the person pronoun, “My” and “Me” as the poet cherishes the gift of the box that is given by her lover. The repetition also suggests that the Clarks claims the box to be her personal possession, and makes it clear to the readers about her closeness with the box. It can be believed that, even though the gift is as simple a box, it is treated with a much higher value. The poet treasures it and probably gives the golden ’brass’ box as much importance as a box made simply of gold. It suggest that this bond is now cemented and ‘engraved’ strongly. Moreover, the vivid colour imagery speaks of the youthfulness in the relation. And, probably as the love is yet shy and introvert, it is kept under ‘lock’ and ‘key’ as it fastens a ‘heavy’ number of memories from their ‘bright’ and ‘black’ ‘nights’ and ‘days.’ This is suggestive of the fact that the bond grew with time. It was made stronger as an ‘oak’ facing the harsh ‘winter nights,’ and ultimately similar to something as firm as a ‘tree.’ This means, though the bond existed with differences, it had grown into permanency. Thus, as we see developments with time, the ideas of growing up seems stirring and moving.


The poet has also used polysyndetons, metaphors and also passage of time which makes the notion of growing old seeming moving more moving. From the Polysyndeton in the expression, “He…sanded and oiled and planed” it is made clear that the poet wants to appreciates every aspect of the gift, and stresses on the hard work put in by the lover in not only making the box but also making their bond strong. It suggests that the Lover was willing to face any difficulties and troubles for the poet. However, later another expression is captured which depicts the passage of time. “We…sanded, oiled and planed.” The following is almost a replica of the other phrase , but with few a changes. Now, it suggests that both the lover and Clark were a collective team worked in the relationship, and faced all difficulties as a cohesive unit. Ahead, the readers witness the well nurtured love of the relationship, that is expressed using another array of imageries. They ‘built a wall’ ‘planted a garden’ and ‘harvested apples’ and ‘planted’ other trees. All of these depict the liveliness of the relation and words like ‘planted’ ‘harvested’ meticulously throw light on the growth of the things, and here it is off their growing relation. The expression may symbolise their literal meanings of actually building a house with a garden. Or, on the other hand, it may also mean that their duo had now grown into a family with children. And the relation that once was shy was now independent as birds such as ‘jays’ that progressed in their life, with a positive bond of ‘red’ love. This suggests that the bond was now more vast and had cherished so many ‘rare’ memories that they had to be ‘written down’ on ‘books.’ Thus, as we see a new and a more flamboyant phase in their lives, it becomes obvious to deem the escalation of time and age immensely moving.


As we examine the text more we see that all stanza are divided on the bases of different phases of time in their relation. However, these scheme is also coupled with a technique in which all the stanzas are concluded with the same line, “ a golden tree.” Now the readers are able to correlate with this technique as it may envisage that this romantic narrative will always culminate on a joyous and ‘golden’ note. This adds to the point that the relationship will be as strong as it is, always. This notion is also accentuated when we see that Clark discusses about time ‘when we[they] are dead.’ The fact that Clark casually expresses feeling of ‘their’ demise with no grief, one can conclude that the poet has an ever-lasting bond with the Lover that will also prolong till heaven or hell. It suggests that she is willing to ‘leave’ all her ‘lock’[ed] possession( i.e. the houses, children and memories) to be seen in the ‘open’ if it were to always be with the Lover. Thus, the emphasis on ‘we’ makes the point straight that Gillian Clark and her Lover had an deep affections that had grown over the period. Lastly, another theme that the readers can notice is that of development. First, it is of the ‘box’ then of the relationship, then of their family and houses, and finally of ‘everything’ around and lastly of ‘me[herself].’ It suggests that the relationship that grew had made Clark learn numerous things and had changed her personality. Also, that as time ‘slowly’ progresses, their are alterations and changes in life, that all affect the surrounding, but have a major impact on one’s own personal growth and development.


Thus, with repetitions, polysyndetons, imageries and metaphors, the readers are able to peep into the different phases of the life of Gillian Clark relation, as she tries to make growing old seem moving.


My Box




ANSWER: The renowned Gillian Clarke has written the aforementioned poem, ‘MY BOX’. In essence, this poem talks about a gift given from a man to a woman. However, it also symbolically talks about how people and their relationships evolve over time. With the help of various literary devices such as metaphors, asyndeton, polysyndeton, harsh and soft sounds, and vibrant imagery, Clarke has successfully made the idea of growing old moving.


Clarke establishes the theme of love and togetherness in this poem by introducing the box as ‘my lover’s gift to me’. The repeated reference to the box as ‘my’ depicts how Clarke cherished this ordinary box. The description of the box as ‘golden’ suggests how an ‘oak’ box is as precious as gold for her. Clarke is deeply attached to this box because it had been made out of love for her. This may also imply how Clarke and her lover have a strong bond even in their youthful days. The youth in Clarke can also be observed when in the line ‘of brass and a bright key’. A reader can recognize the deliberate omission of a word between ‘bright’ and ‘key’, which may have been used to elaborate upon the youthfulness of the poet at this point in time. The fact that a ‘lock’ has been put on the box reveals how it was something to be treasured. Moreover, it could also mean that only Clarke had the ‘key’ to unlock her lover’s heart. The usage of the heavy metal of ‘brass’ and the adjective ‘bright’ depicts the depth of emotions even in the immature stages of relationship. Furthermore, the usage of words such as ‘engraved’ and ‘heavy’ imply how their bond had cemented in its initial stages, maybe because of the love expressed though the gifting of this box. Moreover, the usage of polysyndeton, repetition of the word ‘and’ suggest how one must continually toil and work hard towards establishing the roots of one’s relationship. Alternatively, there must exist mutual respect and appreciation from the very beginning till the end. This lays foundation for Clarke and her lover’s relationship in their early days.


The idea of growing old and storing memories can be seen as the poem progresses. Despite the box being ‘golden’, it contains ‘black books’. This contrast between bright and dull colours highlights how not everything was merry. Their relationship had its crests and troughs however; it had withstood the barrier of time and flourished. Harsh sounds and the color ‘black’ in the may also indicate that there existed secrets in this relationship, something that must be hid from the outside world. The ‘twelve’ books mentioned are presumably her journals. This shows how life was short and all her accounts could be logged into just twelve books. Concurrently, the pronoun ‘we’ implies how, as they aged, they acquired a state of togetherness.


As time progressed this couple grew older, they started taking their relationship a step further. Their perpetual efforts made each step they took together a memorable one. In each ordinary step of life, such as ‘planted[ing] a garden’, they found bliss. Birds have been mentioned, as they are a symbol of positivity, allowing Clarke wants to re-enforce, how her relationship grew and never deteriorated. The tasks taken on by the partners may symbolize how their bond strengthened and was ever-growing. The depiction of everyday tasks using vibrant imagery shows how they couple themselves matured in their relationship. The phrase ‘planted a golden tree’ could signify life, and how they had kids. Throughout the poem, Clarke has shown herself aging, and how her life became happier in this process, thus, successfully making the idea of growing old so moving.


In the last stanza, it is pretty evident that Clarke has reached the final stages of her life. The change in tone and pace of the poem suggests how Clarke has now grown old. She now keeps her box ‘open’ for people to read. They pronoun ‘you’ is directed towards her husband, which is very unconventional as one considers the male to die before the female, and Clarke is quoting the opposite. A reference to ‘them’ could mean her offspring, and how Clarke wants her children to remember their parents with fond memories. Moreover, she wants ‘them’ to learn from her past experiences. The bond between Clarke and her lover is further amplified, as Clarke wants them to be together even in afterlife. In addition, the asyndeton technique suggests hurriedness in her writings and rushed or incomplete expressions; maybe suggesting that time is against her now. Subsequently, the line ‘how everything is slowly made, how slowly things made me’ talks about their relationship and how they achieved its pinnacle after a lot of hard work. This strong, emotional statement indicates how life is made of both the yin and the yang, and how it’s incomplete without both happy and sand memories. Lastly, She wants the reader to know how her relationship was as strong and deep-rooted as ‘a tree’ however, as time progressed, she managed to turn in this into a special ‘golden tree’. It also shows how her life started and ended with the same notion and at the same junction. Alternatively, ‘a tree’ could refer to Clarke’s family tree and the ‘golden tree’ could be a metaphor of love. How a seed has cheerful and miserable experiences, before flourishing into something strong and beautiful. Thus, despite nearing death and being so old, Clarke has successfully managed to make this thought joyful.


Throughout the poem, I believe that Clarke wants the wants the woman to grow old. Each stanza shows a progress in her life. And with each small step, her relationship grows slowly. The last stanza talks about how Clarke may leave the world physically however, her experiences will live in her books. I think that Clarke wants the reader to know how life is short, the happy and the sad moments pass quickly, but its their memories outlive them.


Thus, with the help of various literary devices such as metaphors, asyndeton, polysyndeton, harsh and soft sounds, and vibrant imagery, Clarke has successfully made the idea of growing old moving.