'Things Shouldn't Be So Hard' by Kay Ryan
The poem by Kay Ryan Things shouldn't be So Hard explores the theme of death and of leaving trace in the physical world of objects. The tone of the poet is soft and calm; it is quite intimate, rather a whisper than a declaration. The author reveals an idea that death is unavoidable and that it is impossible to leave imprint that will last forever, that all traces and memories will be erased by time sooner or later.
The poem starts with the poet's message that reflects her concerns: “A life should leave deep tracks”. She reflects on how daily little things that a person does shape memories about them. The poet describes every step that a woman makes from moving the hose in the yard to washing china in front of the sink. Her description suggests an idea that all routine things are filled with sacred meaning if we remember about death. Life is a combination of multicolored mosaic pieces, and there are no unimportant ones because without any of them the whole would be broken.
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The thought that concerns the author is the line in which he ends her poem “Things shouldn't be so hard”. He explores physical reality and realizes that it is impossible to inscribe one's name in it forever. Things are hard because they have shape and weight; they are made of palpable material that often can last longer than a human being. Faint fingerprints on a cup of tea will fade away, and the author is sad about the fact. He believes that if things were more sensitive and flexible, they would have absorbed their master's spirit that would last for a long time after their death. So, in this case, coming of death would also be more palpable to the world, it would be more visible and physically present in the material world: “And when life stops, a certain space — however small— should be left scarred by the grand and damaging parade.”
This “damaging parade” and being “scarred” are the poet's imagery that he uses to reveal the nature of death. The poet realizes that death is a great spiritual event and cannot help thinking that a person vanishes without the outside world being damaged for a long time. However, the marks do not last long, which looks unfair. At the same time, he realizes that life cannot be left still, that change is normal, that people and objects are restored and healed.When having a close look at the poem, it is possible to suggest that the speaker has lost an important person in his life, and for this reason he is so absorbed by the feeling of injustice, though this is not acute. “Her things should keep her marks. The passage of a life should show; it should abrade”
Speaking about word choice and imagery, it can be noted that the author resorts to use a number of words that reflect the same concepts: mark, scar, rut, track, abrade. In contrast, words meaning “to eliminate” or “to vanish” are used and create another nucleus of connotation: passing, erased, rubbed. This contrast contributes to the main conflict between life, that creates, and death, that destroys.
Overall, the poem by Kay Ryan is a piece of writing that has a deep underlying meaning. By exploring the theme of human existence in the world and how this connection is remained after their death, the author expresses his sorrow about the revealed truth. He is unhappy to recognize that “things are so hard” that there is no chance to leave a lasting trace. The poet's manner to express this idea in a gentle and private tone makes the reader involved in the poem.
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