Iceberg As Metaphor For Life Essay, Research Paper
The poem ” The Iceberg” by Sir Charles G.D. Roberts was written in 1931 when Roberts was 71 years old. When one is amidst old age a person tends to reflect on life. Experience of the past come to mind and you begin to reflect more on birth and death. This poem is an interpretation of Roberts’s reflection on life and death and his course throughout life.
The poem “The Iceberg” is a metaphor for life, it is the voice of something that has approached the end and is facing death with the peacefulness of calm waters but with the forcefulness of a massive iceberg. What makes the poem more personal is that it is written in free verse. Free verse is known as “open form” verse. It is printed in short lines rather than continuity of prose, it differs because its rhythmic pattern is not organized into meter. Most free verse also has irregular line lengths and lacks rhythm1, all of which this poem possesses. Writing the poem in free verse allowed the poet to express himself fully and without any limitations. This coincides with the poem being written in the modernist period, which was first and foremost an era in which all traditionalist literary forms of the 19th century were abandoned.
Roberts had many philosophical influences and they are clearly seen in his poetry. The iceberg can represent the human consciousness and the three levels (id, ego and the super ego) which in psychology are often put into a iceberg like diagram. Throughout the poem the reader should realize that the iceberg is a metaphor for life and the human form. Essentially we are like the iceberg in which only the tip is showing. Therefore the iceberg in the poem becomes a human life form and is personified in that it is able to think and speak on a human level.
“The Iceberg” leads the reader through the road of life, its very much like a map outlining the many hardships and stages the human form and psyche will go through. The poem is most of all a reflection of Roberts coming to terms with the possibility of death and the memories of childhood and birth. The poem starts with the birth of the iceberg as it is “spawned” from something larger. This alludes to us as human beings being spawned from our mothers and the thrusting forth to something new and undiscovered. Much like the iceberg we travel through life seeing the world around us. Although there may be beauty in sight we tend to put blinders on and focus only on what lies ahead rather than live in the present. In the fifth stanza the iceberg begins to describe its long journey and the sights and sounds that it experiences. The iceberg describes everything with virgin eyes, much like a child who looks at the world in wonder as it discovers all that surrounds him. In turn this fifth stanza is the iceberg’s description of the journey of life that for it has just begun. It goes on to describe itself as “an Alp alfoat”, this image alludes to the magnificent scenery seen in the mountains but it also describes the greatness of the growing iceberg. Mountains are great symbols of strength and tranquility and so the iceberg relates with the mountains. This can be personified by relating it to a child that is ever growing and coming to the realization that adulthood is very near. Although the chaos surrounds the iceberg it describes itself as “Mild featured, innocent eyed and unforeknowing” in line 77. Eventually, the iceberg begins to leave childhood behind and sees the world and water surrounding him differently.
An important line in the poem that exemplifies Roberts technique in personifying the iceberg is when the iceberg says ” Here, by the deep conflicting currents drawn, I hung, and swung”. This is a very critical point in the poem because like a human the iceberg must decide which way to go on his journey or in out case, life. Like life, fate in the form of a strong wind steps in and makes the decision for the iceberg directing it in the path that will lead him toward his future, the iceberg is now able to see himself as “a soaring miracle”. This also alludes to a person discovering who he they are and what his purpose in life is because for a brief moment the iceberg sees himself as the greatest miracle.
Slowly as the iceberg’s journey and life continues forth it comes to realize its own mortality. The iceberg faces death and is able to realize that all in life must eventually end, this is seen in the line where the iceberg says that he has “a casual expectancy of death”. Like a person he begins to become aware of what lies ahead in his life and the journey that has brought him so much understanding must end. In the last stanzas of the poem one can see that age and therefore death are fast approaching. Waves crash over the iceberg rather than against him, this image can allude to the elderly in that they are often overlooked. At most times it is the most wise person that will be overlooked.
The Iceberg Theory is a writing theory stated by American writer Ernest Hemingway. as follows:
In other words, a story can communicate by subtext; for instance, Hemingway's " Hills Like White Elephants " never once mentions the word " abortion ," though that is what the story's characters seem to be discussing. Often, especially in works that follow in Hemingway's footsteps, less is more.
This statement throws light on the symbolic implications of art. He makes use of physical action to provide an interpretation of the nature of man's existence. It can be convincingly proved that, "while representing human life through fictional forms, he has consistently set man against the background of his world and universe to examine the human situation from various points of view". [Citation
title =Hemingway's Ambiguity: Symbolism and Irony
journal =American Literature
id = ]
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The Iceberg Theory (also known as the “theory of omission”) is a term used to describe the writing style of American writer Ernest Hemingway. The theory is this: The meaning of a piece is not immediately evident, because the crux of the story lies below the surface, just as most of the mass of a real iceberg similarly lies beneath the surface. For example The Old Man and the Sea is a meditation upon youth and age, even though the protagonist spends little or no time thinking on those terms.In his essay “The Art of the Short Story”, Hemingway is clear about his method: “A few things I have found to be true. If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened. If you leave or skip something because you do not know it, the story will be worthless. The test of any story is how very good the stuff that you, not your editors, omit.” From reading Rudyard Kipling he absorbed the practice of shortening prose as much as it could take. Of the concept of omission, Hemingway wrote in “The Art of the Short Story”: “You could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.” By making invisible the structure of the story, he believed the author strengthened the piece of fiction and that the “quality of a piece could be judged by the quality of the material the author eliminated.” The iceberg theory points to the literary technique of suggestion which means implied expression rather than explicit statement or a subtle hinting at something by creating an impression by suppression. When carried further it leads to symbolism. Symbolistic writing is thought-provoking and makes possible the reader’s active participation in the business of literature. Symbolism is like an invisible bridge between the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown. The old man and the sea is most convincing of this point. According to Hemingway, this 30.
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The Iceberg Theory in Cat in the Rain
This "Iceberg theory" is evident in Hemingway’s short story "The Cat in the Rain": "Though Hemingway learned as a professional reporter how to report facts as they were, he felt that there was a limit to representing reality. This is what he conveys through Cat in the Rain." The idea that there is "something below the surface" to this story is particularly evident in relation to the cat. The cat is not just a cat. Instead, as Professor of English Shigeo Kikuchi writes, the animal’s nature is shrouded in mystery: "The moderately distant location of the room and the two words suggestive of the cat’s size, have the effect of concealing from the reader the cat’s true size and sort [which makes] it impossible to identify the “cat in the rain.” But what does the cat represent? One explanation that scholars have offered is that the cat is a physical manifestation of the wife’s desire for a child: “The cat stands for her need of a child.”
Other examples of things being more than they appear abound throughout the story. In one line, Hemingway mentions: “A man in a rubber cape…crossing the empty square to the café.” Although this character at first might seem innocuous, it was not Hemingway’s style to add meaningless interludes to his stories. Therefore some scholars have taken this character to represent a “rubber condom” which the use of “prevents her from becoming pregnant, which was her main dream.”
all the food critics hate iceberg lettuce.
you’d think romaine was descended from
orpheus’s laurel wreath,
you’d think raw spinach had all the nutritional
benefits attributed to it by popeye,
not to mention aesthetic subtleties worthy of
verlaine and debussy.
they’ll even salivate over chopped red cabbage.
just to disparage poor old mr. iceberg lettuce.
I guess the problem is
it’s just too common for them.
it doesn’t matter that it tastes good,
has a satisfying crunchy texture,
holds its freshness,
and has crevices for the dressing,
whereas the darker, leafier varieties
are often bitter, gritty and flat.
it just isn’t different enough and
it’s too goddamn american.
of course a critic has to criticize:
a critic has to have something to say.
perhaps that’s why literary critics
purport to find interesting
so much contemporary poetry
that just bores the shit out of me.
at any rate, I really enjoy a salad
with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,
the more the merrier,
drenched in an italian or roquefort dressing.
and the poems I enjoy are those I don’t have
to pretend that I’m enjoying.
Illustration: Alfred Ng. Find more of his work here .Share this: