Tag Archives: Halley Comet

Meaning of “Halley’s Comet” by Stanley Kunitz

Written as Letter by Sw Eden
This is final draft

Dear, Manson

I am sorry, that I did not write to you for long time. During this week, my professor needed me to write about a poem to you. That is “Halley’s Comet” by Stanley Kunitz. I guess, you know him, too. If you still remember my poem, “I Was There Where You Are,” I will let you know that Stanley Kunitz played with verb tense as same as my poem. At first, I thought that it was easy and direct as my poem, but when I re-read it many times, the meaning of his poem was changed. It is not about just verb tense or only in one day. This poem is about the moving of time, the influence from childhood, and also the inability of human to surrounding environment.

The whole poem was shaped by the movement of the time from the beginning until the end of his life. I heard many people say, that they love this poem because of a child’s innocence and his willingness to believe in incredible story. I cannot imagine, if Stanley Kunitz was really a child at the time he wrote this. He was 90 years old, and surely he was not innocent at his age. He used the one single day to explain his whole life. At the beginning of the poem, the time that he sat in the classroom represents his childhood. After that, he moved from the school to his home, from the dinning room to bedroom and from bedroom to the roof. Every movement describes the passing of time that he was growing up. And in every place that he stopped, he had different responsibility. For example, when his mother and his sister were alive, he had responsibility to be with them, and obey them; and when they died, he had responsibility to take care himself. If you really look into it, you will see that he climbed the stair alone. That means he developed his status in his career by himself. Every step he climbed, he got older and tried, but he also felt higher and better. This is really good experience for comparison. You should try to climb the stair at home. After climbing, he sat on the roof and he described his dress and the weather in that night. This part of poem in which he used present tense is where he was when he wrote it. At 90 years old, it is his time to rest already. He rested on the top of the roof, and watched the sky. He tried to show that he did not look at the town, because he knew all of it, when he had passed it. Although he was at that age, he still looked at higher path. And that is perseverance of his life from the beginning till the end of his poem.

From what I said, this poem is not only about one day of his childhood, but this poem still refers to the influence from adults to a child. At the beginning of the day that he was in the school and walked outside to see the world are his studying time. Generally, people study when they are 5 to 25. Stanley Kunitz covered all parts of those ages within the scenes of school and on the way to home. And regularly, when people get older, their thoughts are also harder to change. Stanley Kunitz shows that his family cannot understand him, and they cannot change his thoughts, too. A child is just like a blank piece of paper, and the first one who paints on it is the one who will form the whole life of that child. Stanley Kunitz’s first thought about the end of the world, which he learned from school, also was supported by the man on the street, who shouted, “Repent, ye sinner!” That made he felt to the world that way till the end of his life.

Stanley Kunits also showed the inability of human to among all ages. During his childhood, he believed whatever other people said. When he grew up, he was with his family, and he was nice. He did what they like, although they did not think that same thing as him. When he climbed up the stair, he climbed alone, such he stepped up to get higher position alone. At one day of the life, people have to help themselves without any help from friend and family. This would describe his ability to achieve by himself. His mother and his sister had passes away, and this might mean on one could walk with him all along his road of life. After he got on top of the roof, he looked at the sky. I would remind you that, the time was late night. It was nearly the end of the day, so it was nearly the end of his life. The roof was on the top part of his house, and he could not just go any higher. This was his inability. He could look higher, but could not go. The only thing he could do at this point is to wait as he said, “Waiting for the world to end.”

This is a really fantastic poem, because we can look at it as an innocence poem or a symbolic poem which is really hard to compose. It is really perfect from the beginning till the end. I love that Stanley Kunitz held all moments of his life in one short poem. Right now, I am thinking about if I were him, where I was in this poem. I guess I would be still walking on the street. The reason that I was not in the school of the poem, is I am college student, and I have more freedom to think than the little child. And the reason that I did not in the dinning room yet, is I am still learning around. How about you? Which part of the poem where you are? Anyway, miss you.

Sw Eden

This photo was taken by Sw Eden.
Showing the attempt of the child.
Kid and little boat

You can read the original poem here

Halley’s Comet by Stanley Kunitz

Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there’d be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground’s edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
“Repent, ye sinners!” he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I’d share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family’s asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.
Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street—
that’s where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I’m the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end.

Note : This paper is for school.


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