About These Things

Elizabeth Jennings


Elizabeth Jennings

Nationality: English

Elizabeth Jennings was a British poet and writer known for her lyrical and introspective style.

Her first collection was Poems in 1953.

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The poem, ‘About These Things’ by Elizabeth Jennings talks of the things or the fears about which the poem always wishes to shirk. These things or fears could either be the poet’s bitter experience, or the things that stop her from opening up before others. This could also relate to the phobia of exposing in front of others, but whatever it may be, it is sure that these things do not let him tell others.

In the poem, the poet may also be talking about the bitter experiences that could be related to her past or anything that was very close but got parted due to some or other reasons.

Though the poet has not made any thing clear about the things that he is talking through this poem, reading through the verses, it comes to know that she may be talking about her dumbness towards certain things that she hardly wants to discuss about.

But as we go through each stanza of the poem, it becomes clear that she is talking about her hurtful experiences about which she doesn’t want her readers to know. As we know Elizabeth has penned down lots of poetries on a variety of themes and each poem from her pen expresses what she experienced, saw and felt.

While talking about her hurtful experiences, she also talks how others behave while expressing their true selves. However, knowing about all these things, the poet compromises with herself and says at the end of the poem that: “Maybe I am dumb because if fears were spoken I would lose the lovely languages I do not choose more than the darkness from which they come.”

About These Things by Elizabeth Jennings


About These Things Analysis

The very title of the poem, ‘About These Things’ is not clear at the first hand, and keeps the readers confused after all about what the poet is going to talk about. In the very first line of the poem, when the poet says: About these things I always shall be dumb, she gives a hint to the readers the poet is certainly not going to be dumb about the things that could either be her personal life-related or could also be those things that she wants her readers should not know.

As she finishes the first line of the first stanza of the poem, she starts talking about other people who keep themselves silent about their things, and wear their silences as more than dress, and as more than skin-deep. Right after comparing her control of keeping silence with other people, she says: I bear mine like some scar which is as hidden as the shamefulness.

Please mind it here that she compares her scar of silence with the shamefulness, and gives a message to her readers that leave your shamefulness and expose yourself. This message could also be related to the theme of emancipation of women who now need to break the shackles of their shamefulness and face the external world.

The poet says that though I speak from depths that are out of understanding yet defining this distress of non-understanding becomes tough for her when she is unable to find a suitable word to bring out this distress.

Now when the poet is unable to express herself and find suitable words to express these things, she chooses to be dumb, and does not want her readers to know about it. The poet says where for some silence is golden and way to hide the real self, but for me it is like a hidden scar, which cannot be blotted out.

Moreover, the poet is so confident about whatever she speaks but it all comes from the depth of her heart whether she understands it or not. And this is really a very distressful situation for the poet when she though doesn’t understand anything, yet, she speaks from the bottom of her heart with full confidence.

Continuing the poem, ‘About These Things’, the poet says that there is so much power into my hand that words come very easily into her mind, and when they come she can sense how people get charged and pause. With the use of these words, where she is able to give relief to some, other also get hurt. And this could be the reason why she wants to be dumb about certain things.

The poet says I cannot see people getting hurt by her, hence she always avoid opening up before them. Where some of my healing words can help them stay with me or be my followers, but there are times when I have to be harsh enough in using words and these words can really hurt them and lead them to the distressful stage that I actually don’t wish for. However, notwithstanding all this, my wordless fears continue to stay on, and stop me to speak what is hurtful.

The poet talks about the selection of words that she use while talking to others. She remains very careful and chooses the words that don’t hurt her readers. She also talks about the power of her words usage, and reveal how she is able to: “sense the way People are charmed and pause;”

Talking about the use of words in the previous stanza, the poet, in the last stanza of the poem, says: “Perhaps I say In lucid verse the terrors that confuse In conversation,” which means that the poet may be expert enough to say in lucid verse the terrors or the fears within her that creates confusion while she talks to others, and this is the reason why she always wants to avoid the confusion so that people may not get misunderstood what she says.

In this stanza, she again says that she may be dumb and so does not want to speak about her fears. And if she speaks out that fears she would lose the lovely language skill that she has certainly not chosen herself but comes out of the darkness from where the fears come.

Thus, in the entire poem, the poet talks about the introvert personalities who do not want to face this external world, but rather want themselves to be confined in their own world. The poet says that such are the people who don’t want to open up in front of others, and there is a kind of fear that stop them to come and face the reality of this world.

Through this poem, the poet has also tried to differentiate between the internal world of an introvert and the external world. The poet says that the introverts always avoid talking about and sharing their experience, and always remain in the fear that whatever they speak may hurt them.

When the poet says: ‘the lovely languages I do not choose’: he means to talk about the language in which the poet (Jennings expresses) written her poetry, and this is the language that is mysterious in origin, and has not been chosen by her.


About Elizabeth Jennings

Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Elizabeth Jennings died on October 26, 2001, Bampton, United Kingdom, and became a writer after completing her graduation. Though she was greatly influenced by lyrical poets like Hopkins, Auden, Graves and Muir, her imagination was hugely inspired when she spent around three months in Rome, thanks to the Somerset Maugham award, which proved to be a turning point in her life, and motivated her to climb the stairs of success in the poetry field.

Acclaimed and recognized as a traditionalist in place of an innovator, Jennings is well-known for her mastery of form and lyric poetry. Her work consists of the simplicity of rhyme and metre shared with Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Thom Gunn, all members of the group of English poets recognized as The Movement.

Elizabeth Jennings is the most unconditionally loved poet of her generation. Indeed, her poetry is so different that it is hard to imagine how she can ever have been seriously associated with them in the minds of critics. And in the poem, ‘About These Things”, the poet is talking about the things or the fears that she never wants to talk as these things could be hurtful for her readers. These things could either be the poet’s bitter experience, or the things that stop her from opening up before others. This could also relate to the phobia of exposing in front of others.

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Dharmender Kumar Poetry Expert
Dharmender is a writer by passion, and a lawyer by profession. He has has a degree in English literature from Delhi University, and Mass Communication from Bhartiya Vidhya Bhavan, Delhi, as well as holding a law degree. Dharmender is awesomely passionate about Indian and English literature.

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