In two of D. H Lawrence’s works Bat and Man and Bat, both poems portray the author’s encounters with bats and his feeling of disgust towards them. In this essay I will compare the two poems in terms of tone, rhythm, diction and style. Both Bat and Man and bat started with a peaceful tone; the author describes the setting in Florence, Italy and gives a calming tone to the readers. However, as the author proceeds with the poem, and starts to introduce a bat, the tone starts to change.
In bat, the tone changes gradually, the author wonders why a swallow would fly so late- at this point he describes the swallow’s movement and the tone changes; the readers sense a mysterious feel. When the author does confirm that the bird is in fact a bat, the tone of the poem changes, we sense the disgust the author feels towards the bats, using words such as “old rag”, giving “uneasy creeping in one’s scalp” (341-342). This particular tone set by the author greatly defines the hate he has for bats and also due to change in rhythm and diction, helps the readers experience the events within the poem.
However, the tone in Man and Bat did not change as gradually, in fact it changes drastically. Soon after the start of the poem, the author introduces the bat and almost immediately words such as “disgusting” and “Out! Go Out! ” (342) sets the tone of disgust. Throughout the ‘rant’ the tone remains the same, but the author did change the tone twice; when the main character in the poem (supposedly the author) realizes that the bat cannot leave his room because he cannot face the light, a sense of pity clouds the readers, the author feels pit for the bat and changes the mood slightly for a while.
The tone of disgust returns though soon after yet it changes again; whilst the author wants to kill the bat and throw it away, he said that he didn’t create the bat therefore he cannot kill it, the tone shifts back to pity for the second time, giving the readers more hints that the author does pity the bat and does not wish to kill it. Man and Bat ends quite gracefully, the last few sentences had a peaceful tone, the author was quite happy that the bat had left and now enjoys the evening leaving the readers at ease.
However, in Bat the ending still had the tone of disgust, ending the poem with an exclamation mark really emphasizes on the disgust. Both Bat and Man and Bat also start with similar rhythm; the pace was quite slow with the help of ellipses which helped prolonged the sentences. These prolonged sentences tend to calm the readers, so they could feel how ‘lazy’ the author feels through the poem. In Bat, the author changes the rhythm gradually too; after noticing the birds, the author still narrates with a lazy rhythm but also attentive, and that is how the readers start to feel suspicious of these swallows.
As soon as the bats are introduced, exclamation marks are also introduced to readers; these exclamation marks give a heightened sensation to the readers and make them feel rushed (finding themselves reading through the poem with greater speed). This fast rhythm also gives more tension to the readers, giving a ‘thriller’ feel and gives more entertainment value to the poem, as the author describes in great detail the bat’s flights. However, the author still uses ellipses as he describes the bats, but these ellipses have a different effect; instead of prolonging the sentence it adds more mystery and a hint of uncertainty.
In Man and Bat, the rhythm doesn’t change as gradually and the rhythm is even faster than that of Bat; as soon as the bat is introduced, the author changes the rhythm immediately, using repetition of the words ‘round and round and round’ (342) to rush and tense the readers more into reading the poem faster. The scene where the author tries to escape the bat is a typical action scene, happening very quickly. The author uses more exclamation marks to tense and fasten the rhythm more and this fast rhythm really helps the readers to understand the situation of the poem and also enhances the tone of disgust the author uses in the poem.
Nevertheless, Man and Bat ended in a calming pace, the author reflects on the bat and threw away his grudges towards it- it leaves the readers content with the happy ending. However, Bat did not end as peaceful; the ending came abruptly, the author still hints a disgusted tone and the rhythm did not slow down- it even ended with an exclamation mark. This kind of ending leaves the readers hanging unlike Man and Bat. There were two main dictions in Bat and Man and Bat; diction for movement and diction for disgust.
Both poems describe the bat’s movements in the air, going ‘round and round and round’ and in both works the author emphasizes on his revolt towards the ‘disgusting old rags’. In Bat, the author chose words such as ‘swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together’ when describing the birds movement; the readers feel the mystery of these swallows- yet not disgusted- and somehow the swallow’s flight seemed elegant. However, when realizing that these swallows were in fact bats, the author uses words such as ‘wildly vindictive’ and ‘hanging disgustingly upside down’ (341) even though these are the same birds he saw.
The author’s change of words help adding depth towards the tone of disgust he hints, and his choice of words impact how the readers feel towards the bat, mainly revolt. The author’s choice of words also affects the rhythm; the readers think that the bat’s movements are wild, uneasy and frightening instead of the elegance of the swallows. Nevertheless, the author’s choice of words in Man and Bat even emphasizes more on the bat’s crazy movements and his dislike towards them. Within the first page the author already plunges into words such as ‘a twitchy, nervous, intolerable flight’, ‘a neurasthenic lunge’ and ‘impure frenzy’ (342).
These words really affect the poem’s pace and adding more depth towards the already obvious hatred; readers feel overwhelmed whilst reading Man and Bat because it contains carefully chosen words which gives great impact. Another obvious technique the author uses is repetition of the word ‘round’ which is used to describe the movement of the bat within the character’s room. In fact, the author uses that word 22 times in Man and Bat. In conclusion, D. H Lawrence used tone, rhythm and diction to his full advantage when writing Bat and Man and Bat to portray his repulse towards bat and its wild and frightening movements.