William Strafford And Shakespeare's A Ritual To Read To Each Other

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A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Strafford, and Shakespeare’s sonnet are about very different kinds of romance. The fact that these two writers lived hundreds of years apart is evident in their poetry. Although the themes of both poems are similarly dark, Stafford talks about modern social issues, while Shakespeare brings up the issue of love itself. The two poems contrast more than the compare. In A Ritual to Read to Each Other, William Stafford speaks about a different kind of love than in Shakespeare’s sonnet. The love Stafford describes isn’t romantic, rather it is built on the fragile communication we have with the people around us. Stafford emphasizes the love of humanity, and begins his poem by pointing out how desperately bereft we are of this kind of empathy today. In the second stanza Stafford talks about the emptiness that exists between us. According to the poem we’ve become so inept at communication, that a misread of someone’s gestures could send the insecurities of childhood back to haunt us. Although Stafford paints a dismal picture of life, he believes in humanity’s capacity for change. “though we could fool each other, we should consider – lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.” In the concluding stanza Stafford calls out the “awake people,” and makes a plea that those who are aware of the fragile connections we have with other human beings stay aware. Alienation runs rampant in society, and the themes of Stafford’s poem directly

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