Martin TranThorsenEnglish 9HDecember 13, 2017The Numerous Negatives of Neglect Owen Feltham, an English writer, has proclaimed, “Negligence is the rust of the soul that corrodes through all her best resolves.” The poem “Neglect” by Rodney T. Smith explores the damaging effects of negligence and how it can hurt anything that it is inflicted upon. Negligence of anything unfailingly leads to loss and regret.
Figurative language is used to describe the anguish resulting from the action of carelessness. For example, the speaker holds onto an “armload of applewood / now feeding the stove’s smolder” (14-15). There is alliteration in “armload of applewood” which represents how the apple tree has degraded from a thriving state down to a bundle of sticks; this is an analogy of the devastating nature of dereliction. The feeding of the “stove’s smolder” is the acceptance that the effects of the speaker’s actions are final the damage is already done.
In addition, after the speaker contemplates past mistakes, “smoke is all, through this lesson in winter / regret, I’ve been given to remember. / Smoke and Red Delicious apples” (21-23). Through repetition, smoke is used as a metaphor for death as it is the final product of the speaker’s disregard. Just as smoke is one of the fundamental ideas associated with fire, death is the first thing that comes to mind when recalling someone who has died. In contrast, the “Red Delicious apples” juxtaposes the idea of smoke, symbolizing happiness and prosperity, which are the fruits of the speaker’s initial undivided care. The brutal effects of the speaker’s irresponsibility leave him in awe of the destruction of what he cares for.
Diction unveils the grief and remorse the speaker is tormented with. For instance, the speaker acknowledges that he “should have lopped the dead limbs early / and watched each branch” (7-8). “Should have” has a connotation of deep regret. The speaker thinking he should have “lopped the dead limbs early” and “watched each branch” exemplifies the desire to right the wrongs of not giving heed even though there is no way to fix past actions. Moreover, instead of tending his tree, the speaker is “too enchanted / by pear saplings, flowers and the pasture, / too callow” (10-12). “Enchanted” and “callow” emphasize immaturity. This introduces the possibility that the speaker could be a child; as a result, children are known to move on from one thing to the next in rapid succession, typically utterly abandoning the previous items.
The “pear saplings, flowers and the pasture” represent newer, more exciting opportunities that usually replace older options, and the speaker chooses to do just that. The speaker is engulfed in his suffering as a result of his foolish action. Negligence is a natural impulse to get the newest and the best commodities but, left out of hand, has devastating effects on things left behind. Restraining from this action is the only way to protect the important and maybe even unexpected things which make the biggest difference.
Negligence is like a fish swimming towards a whirlpool; if the fish doesn’t realize its path and attempt to veer away, it will become entangled in a whirl of misery and misfortune with no way to turn back.