“One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.” Said by Voltaire can describe the two poems, Seventeen by Andrew Hudgins and Traveling through the Dark by William Stafford. Both poems are written in a prose fashion but mean so much more than the written words. At a glance, the poems both seem to be about the tragic deaths of animals; however, the poems differ in their themes of growing up in Seventeen and the intermixing of technology with man and nature in Traveling through the Dark.
Seventeen is called seventeen because it is about growing up and going against society. This interaction with society also shows growth in the narrator. Seventeen is the age where many people have to decide what they are going to do with the rest of their lives whether it be choosing a career or going to college. The growing up starts to happen once the narrator meets the man that caused the death of the dog. Before the boy meets the man he uses vague adjectives for the truck, the weeds, and the dog; “The rope/ snapped and the brown dog hurtled into the weeds, /I braked, still pounding on my horn. The truck /stopped too.” (6-9) the dog is described as brown, and the truck was simply described as a truck, where at the end of the poem, the narrator recalls specific information such as, “His truck was a blue Ford, /the dog was a Beagle. I was Seventeen.”(33-34) the more specific adjectives show that he has grown since the experience.
In Seventeen, the man represents adult society. To a seventeen year old, adult society may seem crude and brash. He is encountering a man that would rather leave this injured, defenseless dog on the road than take care of it. After cursing at the man, the narrator says, “I’d never cussed out a grown-up man before” (17) showing his youth and innocence at the time. By outing the dog out of its misery, the narrator is showing that he cares about the dog. He believes that by going against society (the man in this case) by taking responsibility for the dog, he is doing the right, mature thing to do, which is why this seems like the moment he grew up. Although the narrator in Traveling through the Dark faced a similar issue, his story is not about growing up; it is about how man, nature, and technology can interact.
The theme of the intermixing of technology with man and nature is apparent in Traveling through the Dark. In this poem, the car and the manmade road are made out to be harmful; “that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.” (4) In the poem, there is a link between technology and nature. Using simple wording, Stafford gives the car an animal like purr and the wilderness a human like whispering. There is also the link in the swerving. The narrow road is what causes cars to hit animals, which cause cars to swerve, which can cause more deaths. The narrator in this poem has to face the decision of killing the unborn fawn like in Seventeen, however, the narrator does it for a different...