In Praise of Creation by Elizabeth Jennings

The speaker of this poem, In Praise of Creation, is in awe of creation. That much is quite obvious. However, the speaker is deliberately vague about why nature is so inspiring and awesome, in the truest sense of the word. While some attribute the order and detail of creation to a creator, others attribute it to chance. The fact that the speaker uses the word “creation” in the title, suggests her belief that something or someone intelligent is behind the order and wonder of nature. However, she does not delve into that aspect of creation with her poem. She simply stands in awe of all that creation is, from the sky above, to the tiger, down the mating rituals of the birds. The speaker finds it all unspeakably awe inspiring.

 

In Praise of Creation Analysis

Stanza 1

The speaker notices the small things in creation that have caused her to stand in awe of it. She has studied “that one bird” and the “one star” for long enough to acknowledge that the beauty and wonder behind one tiny little bird is too much for her mind to comprehend. She realizes that the light from one star travelling from millions of light years away, is enough to cause her to stand in complete awe of the universe. She then refers to “the one flash of the tiger’s eye”. She finds the tiger to be a specimen truly unique and fascinating. One flash of his eye reveals the intricate and complicated nature of creation. The speaker claims that these parts of the earth and the universe “clearly assert what they are”. She does not explicitly claim that they assert a creator. Nor does she deny one. Rather, she claims that the bird, the star, and the tiger in themselves assert what they are, and by their very natures testify to what they are. There need be no ceremony. Rather, they testify by simply doing what is in their nature for them to do.

 

Stanza 2

The speaker continues to explain the claims she implicitly made in the first stanza. She claims that what these magnificent parts of creation testify to, is “order” and “rule”. This seems to give the implication that nature does not lend itself well to the idea of it’s being there due to chance, but rather demands the idea of order and rule. She goes on to explain that the way “the birds mate at one time only” and “how the sky is…full of birds” are all signs that there is an incredible about of order and rule in creation. She is amazed at the changes of the moon, and the way that it is “sometimes cut thinly” and other times is full. This indirectly reveals her awe at the way the universe is set up so that the moon orbits the earth and the earth the sun in such a way that to the human eye, it seems that sometimes the moon is “cut thin”. The fact that the birds mate at only one time also strikes the speaker fascinating. If mating is something instinctual, why do the birds wait until a certain time of year? All of the speaker’s observations re-iterate her awe at the order and rule that seems to exist in the universe, from the moon, to the birds in the sky, the speaker marvels at the way the earth and universe function.

 

Stanza 3

With this stanza, the speaker finds it amazing that an animal as dangerous as a tiger comes with a visible warning sign. She sees the tiger’s stripes as a type of cage, warning other animals of the dangerous nature of this beast. Yet, though it is a dangerous animal, it still is “watchful over creation” as though it plays a very important role in the way that nature functions. The speaker then describes the way the tiger rests and waits “for the blood to pound” and “the drums to begin” The language used here reveals that something intense is about to happen, though the speaker does not yet reveal what that is. She simply says that the tigress will cast a shadow.

 

Stanza 4

With this stanza, the speaker gives further detail concerning this event. She describes the way the shadow of the tigress would fall over the tiger, and there would be “a passion” and “a scent”. It is clear now that the speaker is referring the mating of the tiger and the tigress. In the midst of the mating of these two magnificent creatures, the world seems to go “turning, turning”. This language, quite obviously, reflects that of William Butler Yeats in one of his most famous poems, The Second Coming, in which Yeats seems to suggest that the world is spinning out of control. The speaker in this poem, however, uses similar language to convey a meaning just the opposite. She seems to see the world as maintaining order, and the mating of the two powerful beasts suggests not that the world is spinning out of control, but rather that it continues to turn in uniform, as it was created to do, allowing the seasons to change and time to go on. This, the speaker suggests, “sieves earth to its one sure element”. The speaker does not directly reveal what this “one sure element” is, but the next line suggests that mating practices of all of creations’ beings are that “one sure element”. She claims that when the tiger and tigress meet for mating, “the blood beats beyond reason”. This is an interesting line, because throughout the rest of the poem, the speaker seems to evaluate creation, seeking reasoning behind the seeming order and rule of nature. However, here she admits that when it comes to mating, the “blood beats beyond reason” and one simply cannot understand the nature of it.

 

Stanza 5

After the mating is done, the speaker describes the “quiet” and the way the “birds [are] folding their wings”. She notices that after the few minutes of mating, “the new moon” still sits there, as it was, “waiting for years to be stared at here”. Once the mating has taken place, “The season sinks to satisfied things” and leaves man, once again, “with his mind ajar”. The speaker’s description of this mating reveals some parallels to what is likely personal experience, and thus, a human sexual experience. The use of the word “man” at the end of the poem further suggests this view. Thus far, man has not been mentioned in the poem. The speaker simply reflects upon nature and all of creation. At the end of the poem, after her description of the mating of the tiger and tigress as something which is “beyond reason” she mentions another human being whose mind is left “ajar”. This suggests the idea that even the instinctual act of sexual intercourse with another human being is subject to order and rule, and that even though it is an act that seems “beyond reason” it still leaves people with their minds open, pondering life, humanity, and creation just as the speaker does throughout this poem.

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  • Avatar Cassie says:

    So can you please explain what is the connection between “one sure element” and “blood beats beyond” and what is the effect that is gained by using alliteration?

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      The one sure element the poet refers to is blood. So when they say it beats beyond reason it is just a continuation of this. I think the alliteration gives the poem a rhythm that that might be associated with a beating heart.

  • Avatar Tanish Mulji says:

    Comment closely on ways in which the poem “In praise of Creation ‘ celebrates creation

    Can you please give me some ideas for this question

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      I would definitely focus on the constant references to the natural world. Poetry that calls on nature often is usually classed as romantic poetry. Hopefully focusing on that will be a good starting point for your essay.

  • Avatar Prime says:

    I think when Jennings says that man’s mind is ajar I think she is trying to say that the human mind is never satisfied with what it has and so it is forever trying to ring something new and the mind is never at piece like how the animals can live uniformly and they are satisfied ??

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      I like this, great analysis of that phrase.

  • Avatar Gabriel Daudy says:

    wassssssssup

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      Nothing, just watching the game, having a Bud.

  • Avatar Michael says:

    It’s a matter of interpretation, but I see the ‘tiger trapped in the cage of its skin’ as suggesting that ‘a tiger can never be anything but a tiger’, matching the phrase ‘purely assert what they are’ of stanza 1. My view is that the last line, .’Man with his mind ajar.’ is the key to the poem. I interpret ‘ajar’ here in its second meaning, which is ‘out of harmony’. This contrasts powerfully with the order ( ‘harmony’) Jennings extols in the poem, implying that this is being constantly compared with a human exception. Only humans are not explicitly ‘what they are’ but are constantly involved in a debate about their own nature. Rather than accepting that they are part of the ‘order’, they see themselves as being separate from it, and can never agree as to whether they are ‘animal, ‘angel’ or a combination of both. I feel the fact that Jennings makes no mention of ‘man’ until the last line is significant.

  • Avatar Michael says:

    It’s a matter of interpretation, but I see the ‘tiger trapped in the cage of its skin’ as suggesting that ‘a tiger can never be anything but a tiger’, matching the phrase ‘purely assert what they are’ of stanza 1. My view is that the last line, .’Man with his mind ajar.’ is the key to the poem. I interpret ‘ajar’ here in its second meaning, which is ‘out of harmony’. This contrasts powerfully with the order ( ‘harmony’) Jennings extols in the poem, implying that this is being constantly compared with a human exception. Only humans are not explicitly ‘what they are’ but are constantly involved in a debate about their own nature. Rather than accepting that they are part of the ‘order’, they see themselves as being separate from it, and can never agree as to whether they are ‘animal, ‘angel’ or a combination of both. I feel the fact that Jennings makes no mention on ‘man’ until the last line is significant.

  • i was here

  • Avatar anonymous says:

    can you give the figures of speech in the poem

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      When you mean “figures of speech” Do you mean metaphors?

    • Avatar Twanjiru says:

      The analysis would need more use of structure…

      • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

        Hi, thanks once again for your feedback, but could you be more specific about how you might like the structure, please? If it is an idea we think has merit we might adopt it. Thanks for reading!

  • Avatar Aditya says:

    Why the poet comes visible with a warning sign when she sees the tiger?

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      I’m not sure what you mean with this comment. Sorry.

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