'Prayer , Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish' by Robert Burns

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O Thou Great Being! what Thou art,
Surpasses me to know;
Yet sure I am, that known to Thee
Are all Thy works below.

Thy creature here before Thee stands,
All wretched and distrest;
Yet sure those ills that wring my soul
Obey Thy high behest.

Sure, Thou, Almighty, canst not act
From cruelty or wrath!
O, free my weary eyes from tears,
Or close them fast in death!

But, if I must afflicted be,
To suit some wise design,
Then man my soul with firm resolves,
To bear and not repine!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish: A Deep Dive into Robert Burns' Masterpiece

Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, was a true master of his craft, and in his poem "Poetry, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish," he showcases a sensitivity and depth that is rarely seen in literature. The poem, which was written in 1787, explores the themes of despair, hopelessness, and the power of poetry and prayer to provide solace in times of great emotional turmoil.

At its core, "Poetry, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish" is a deeply personal and introspective poem. The speaker, who is likely a stand-in for Burns himself, is in the grip of a powerful emotional crisis, and is struggling to cope with the overwhelming feelings of sadness and despair that have taken hold of him. As he wrestles with his emotions, he turns to the twin powers of poetry and prayer, hoping that they will provide him with some measure of comfort and relief.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the speaker's emotional state. In the first stanza, he describes the intense pain that he is feeling, using vivid and powerful language to convey the depth of his anguish. He writes:

Oppressed with grief, oppress'd with care,
A burden more than I can bear,
I set me down and sigh;
O life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!

These lines are incredibly evocative, and they paint a picture of a person who is truly suffering. The repetition of the word "oppressed" emphasizes the weight of the speaker's burden, while the image of life as a "galling load" highlights the sense of hopelessness and despair that he feels.

Despite the overwhelming nature of his emotions, the speaker is not content to simply give in to his pain. Instead, he turns to poetry and prayer as a means of coping with his suffering. In the second stanza, he writes:

Dim backwards, as through gloomy veil,
I view the past, I see the sail,
That, all my treasure bore,
Away, far, far away it fleets,
While I, with fond but fruitless feats,
Attempt to reach the shore.

Here, the speaker is reflecting on happier times in his life, when he had something to hold onto and to cherish. However, those times are now gone, and the speaker is left with only the memories of what was. Despite this, he continues to cling to the hope that he will be able to find some way to move forward, even if he cannot return to the past.

The third and final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful, as the speaker turns to prayer to help him find some measure of comfort and relief. He writes:

Thus, hopeless, and despairing, hearted,
I heard a voice, how sweet! how dear!
"Thy soul shall find relief."
I rose, the voice of heaven disdaining,
And, with the voice of mirth, still feigning,
Resumed the mask of grief.

Here, the speaker is describing a moment of spiritual awakening, in which he hears a voice that promises him relief from his suffering. However, instead of embracing this promise, the speaker resists, choosing instead to continue wearing the "mask of grief." This is a powerful statement about the nature of suffering, and the difficulty that people often have in letting go of their pain.

Overall, "Poetry, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish" is a deeply moving and thought-provoking poem, filled with vivid imagery and powerful language. Burns' masterful use of poetic techniques such as repetition, imagery, and symbolism creates a work that is at once intensely personal and universally relatable. By exploring the themes of despair, hopelessness, and the power of poetry and prayer to provide solace in times of great emotional turmoil, Burns has created a work that speaks to the human experience in a profound and meaningful way.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish: A Masterpiece by Robert Burns

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, is known for his ability to capture the essence of human emotions in his works. One of his most famous poems, Poetry Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish, is a masterpiece that showcases his talent for expressing the complexities of the human psyche.

The poem is a prayer that Burns wrote during a time of great emotional turmoil. It is a plea to the muse of poetry to help him express his feelings and find solace in his art. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with its own distinct message.

The first stanza begins with Burns addressing the muse of poetry, asking her to come to his aid. He describes his emotional state as one of "violent anguish" and begs the muse to help him find the words to express his pain. He acknowledges that his words may not be perfect, but he hopes that they will be enough to ease his suffering.

The second stanza is a reflection on the power of poetry. Burns describes how poetry has the ability to heal wounds and bring comfort to those in pain. He compares the power of poetry to that of medicine, saying that it can cure the soul just as medicine can cure the body. He also acknowledges that poetry can be a double-edged sword, as it can also bring pain and sorrow to those who read it.

The third and final stanza is a plea for the muse to continue to inspire Burns in his writing. He asks her to guide him in his work and to help him find the words to express his deepest emotions. He acknowledges that he may never be able to fully capture the complexity of his feelings, but he hopes that his words will be enough to convey his message.

The poem is a powerful expression of the human experience. Burns captures the essence of emotional pain and the healing power of art. He acknowledges the limitations of language and the difficulty of expressing complex emotions, but he also celebrates the beauty and power of poetry.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of language. Burns employs a variety of poetic devices, including alliteration, repetition, and metaphor, to create a rich and evocative language. His use of imagery is particularly effective, as he paints vivid pictures of emotional turmoil and the healing power of poetry.

Another notable aspect of the poem is its structure. The three stanzas each have their own distinct message, but they also work together to create a cohesive whole. The repetition of the plea for the muse's help in each stanza creates a sense of urgency and desperation, while the reflection on the power of poetry in the second stanza provides a moment of contemplation and reflection.

Overall, Poetry Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish is a masterpiece of poetry. Burns' ability to capture the complexities of human emotion and the power of art is truly remarkable. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of poetry and its ability to heal the soul.

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