Remembering Fireworks by Elizabeth Jennings

The poem, Remembering Fireworks by Elizabeth Jennings gives an account of nostalgia for a sky lit up with fireworks. With the imagery of fireworks, it also gives a deeper meaning by comparing the fireworks with those days when we are happy, and in this intoxication of happiness we forget our sorrows experienced in the past. Through the poem, the poet wants to say that our happiness and excitements are like the fireworks that momentarily create happiness in our life, lighting up the sky with beautiful diamonds like stars, but when the magic of fireworks comes to end, our whole excitement too ends, and again we are left with a sky which is empty with feelings and excitement.

As we know that Elizabeth has always best captured human emotions. There are a number of poems wherein the poet has made us acquainted with those human feelings that are hardly covered and captured by any other poets of her time. Whether you read her Love Poem, The Young Ones, Father to Son or any other poem related to human psychology, she has succeeded in best describing and best portraying the human’s feelings. Similarly, the poem, Remembering Fireworks, revolves around the human feelings that change itself with the passage of time. And the best thing about this poem is that the poet has used the imagery of fireworks to describe the excitement and happiness of a human being.

 

Remembering Fireworks Analysis

Always as if for the first time, we watch

(…)

to things long known and lost.

In this deeply emotional and nostalgic poem, which can be read in full here, the poet is talking about the time when we were watching the fireworks light the sky. The sight soothes us and appeals to our creative instincts, putting us in an elated state of euphoria. It gives us a feeling similar to the one which we experience when we meet someone who strongly appeals to our senses. We are in such a state of bliss that we want it to go on and not come to an end. But there’s no permanence to anything and everything comes to an end. The poet has very aptly expressed these feelings of mortality and finality when she says: “And in the falling of fire, the spent rocket”.

Through these words, the poet gives us a feeling of mortality and through some very powerful imagery has succeeded in conveying the message of finality of all objects. The fire from the fireworks that was once seen to be going upward in the sky is now seen coming down. This sight takes us in the past assailing us with strong nostalgic feelings.

Such an absence

(…)

stars surrendered. We search for a sign.

Through these lines, the poet says that watching the display of these bright and beautiful fireworks you are filled with a feeling of elated happiness and want this blissful state to go on endlessly. But when this wonderful display of fireworks eventually comes to an end, we are struck with a feeling of longing and loneliness, wanting this blissful state to go on forever. But just as the display of fireworks, with these bright and beautiful lights, has come to an end similarly this blissful and euphoric moment also ends. This leaves us bereft of all feelings, leaving us in a state of deep melancholy and sadness.

At this point, we start reminiscing about the past wishing for the good times to stay. Thinking nostalgically and with fond memories about a near and dear one, wishing all the time that the time spent with that person would never come to an end. But this fact of finality strikes you and with strong feelings of regret you finally accept this fact that all things have an end and what comes in this world has to go. And here we are faced with the stark reality of our mortality and the supremacy of God.

The poet’s feelings of surrender and helplessness can be felt fully when she says: ‘Oh and the air is full of the falling stars surrendered’.

Meaning that the stars emitted from the fireworks once going upwards were now coming down and this showed their finality and end. Because once they touch the ground everything ends and becomes non-existent.

 

About Elizabeth Jennings

Elizabeth Jennings was the most unconditionally loved poet of her generation. The poet deals with various subjects in her poetry, and human emotions being one of them. The poet was known for her clarity of style and simplicity of diction.

She started her poetry writing career at the very early stage after having being encouraged by one of her schoolteachers as well as by an uncle, who himself was a poet. She wrote her earlier poetries on being inspired by Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, G. K. Chesterton’s “Battle of Lepanto”, and then the odes of Keats.

Afterward, Jennings was greatly influenced by the poetries of Edwin Muir and Robert Frost. In most of Jennings’s poems, there have been strong logic, emotional sensitivity, and an avoidance of decoration, an absence of vagueness and an eschewing of any mystification.

She had always taken care of the use of rhyme and meter when it comes to the form of poetry. Her use of words and sentence structure in the poem are very easy to understand. All her poems were simple and without literary decoration and pretentiousness in literature.

Elizabeth Jennings was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and died in 2001.  Jennings, having completed her graduation from Oxford University, first  worked as an Assistant Librarian at Oxford City Library and then as a reader for the London Publisher Chatto & Windus and finally she became a full-time writer for the rest of her life.

 

Language and Imagery

When it comes to the use of language and imagery, there are several types of images and vocabulary that the poet uses to describe the human feelings. Reading through the poem, you will come across images connected with fireworks, such as: “shapes”, “stars”, “diamonds”, and “rockets”. In addition, the poet also uses enjambment so that a quick pace and fast rhythm can be created in the poem. The poet makes use of this poetic device taking into account the theme of fireworks and its deeper meaning of euphoria and temporary excitement and.

Moreover, the poet has cleverly used the word “falling” at the end of fifth and second last lines, “of fire” and “stars”. The use of both these words in the poem indicates the physical action of falling. In fact they are paradoxical, as fire and stars usually don’t come down rather by nature they rise. Thus, all through the poem, you will poet making very clever use of language techniques to take ahead its theme.

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