Flames and Dangling Wire

508 Words3 Pages
Robert Gray’s poem ‘Flames and Dangling Wire’ is a didactic poem in which the reader is warned of the consequences of humanity’s devastating overindulgent materialism. Gray makes heavy use of allusion, symbolism and imagery, but also uses irony and personification to emphasize and develop his warning. The most effective technique implemented by Gray in ‘Flames and Dangling Wire’ to warn the reader is imagery. The city is described as being ‘driven like stakes into the Earth’, symbolizing the merciless and violent imposition of humans on their world. This is also ironic, as humans themselves are a part of the earth and nature, yet are destroying it for their own ends. The imagery of the dump is used to symbolize the dystopic wasteland that society is approaching, a consumer society consuming itself. The confronting revelations of the persona’s experience compels the reader, as a vision of hell is established, as “attendants in overalls and goggles” and “laborers” allude to “devils” and “demons”. These “figures” of our future are portrayed in a pathetic fashion, as they “poke” around, and “wander in despondence”, looking for “scraps of appetite”, in order to fuel their humanity. The people who fork through the trash symbolize that we may, one day pick at the remnants of our long lost culture, 'with an eternity in which to turn up some peculiar sensation'. Furthering this image of hell, Charon, “the demon with the long barge pole” from Greek mythology, is depicted as “a man, wiping his eyes”. The speaker alliteratively remarks, “Someone who worked here would have to weep,” highlighting the difference between reality, and hell, the speaker then comments on this image, “how can he avoid a hatred of men?” This comparison emphasizes the dark reality of the situation, leading to the downfall of humanity. Gray further extends the horrific experience to the reader
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