Task IV Please analyze the theme of the poem, using the speech act hypotheses we have discussed in class. Please pay attention to the change of syntax in the second half of the poem. As the first part of the poem is imperatives and the theme of the poem is elegy, I firstly regard it as an advice or consolation, the poet advising others not to be bothered to find the traces of the person who died.
A common condolence is generally soothing and pacifying, describing how the deceased will rest in peace, however, in this case the poet depicts with very unfavorable words, such as “brittle”, “cold”, and “angry”, which is by no means reassuring or encouraging. Then I guess maybe it is a lament in which the poet uses uncomfortable words to give full vent to his sadness and resentment about his friend’s death.
The second half of the poem changes from imperatives to declarative statements, depicting what happens to the deceased after the death. According to the poet, the deceased still doesn’t get peacefulness but, luckily, becomes an integral part of nature. Taking the two parts into consideration, I think the poem is a lament at the beginning and a placation for both others and the poet himself in the end.
ELEGY Leonard Cohen Do not look for him In brittle mountain streams: They are too cold for any god; And do not examine the angry rivers For shreds of his soft body Or turn the shore stones for his blood; But in the warm salt ocean He is descending through cliffs Of slow green water And the hovering coloured fish Kiss his snow-bruised body And build their secret nests In his fluttering winding-sheet.