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Ears in the Turrets Hear Explication

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Westhoff
Words 926
Pages 4
“Ears in the Turrets Hear” by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is practically unchanged from its first appearance in Thomas’s notebook, page 173 of Notebook Poems on the 17th of July 1933. This poem was written in a time where Thomas was trying out various styles of poetry, Thomas’s poetry generally can’t be categorised under any literary group due to his refusal to align with the parameters of any specific group. The title of the poem would lead the reader, with no prior knowledge of the poem, to assume that the poem is about war, with people hiding inside turrets hearing sounds of the approaching danger that is coming up on their position.

“Ears in the Turrets Hear” is a poem about how the speaker is isolated from society, and the line 'Alone till the day I die' gives strength to the statement of the poem being about social isolation. The first line, which is also the heading of the poem, has the turrets representing his ears, listening as the hands of strangers grumble on the door. As with the turrets for the speaker's ears, the gables represent the speaker's eyes, seeing the fingers of the aforementioned hands tinkering at the locks. The line 'shall i unbolt of stay' shows a sense of fear and uncertainty about letting these people in the door. The terms White House and Island are representations of the speaker's person, not merely his body. The White House can let those grumbling hands at the door in, essentially letting the people into his life, but his the fear and uncertainty he is feeling are causing him to think twice about it.
The final line of the first stanza contains the overarching question of the poem, 'Hold you poison or grapes?' This question represents the unknown, foreign objects that could be contained in the hands or ships. Will the speaker take them into their own being without knowing whether they are poisonous to his body, or nutritious for his health and wellbeing, like grapes. with this question, the speaker seems to be probing the idea of responsible discernment about his body, or openminded acceptance of whatever comes his way he will welcome with open arms, even if it could be the death of him.

This question that the speaker is asking 'Hold You poison or grapes?" is quite an immature question. The speaker is assuming that the hand's of the strangers and the holds of the ships can only contain one of two things, poison or grapes, and that society can only contain either good or evil. This isn't the case with life, but since the speaker has been living in social isolation he doesn't realise this, and by wondering if they should let in the stranger/sailor, the speaker is questioning whether they should let in any outsiders into the social isolation the speaker is experiencing.

The second stanza is an extension of the first stanza practically, with the island mentioned in the first line representing the speakers body, like how the White House was in the first stanza. But in this case, the speaker is describing what is surrounding his 'island' so to speak, with the phrase 'Beyond this island bound By a thin sea of flesh And a bone coast,' representing what is binding the speaker's body. The thin sea of flesh is representing the speaker's skin, and the bone coast is a representation of his skull with the mind encased inside of it. This sea of flesh and bone coast are creating a barrie from the outside world, which represents the barrier between the speaker and the outside world figuratively speaking. The lines 'The land lies out of sound and the hills out of mind' could be a vague representation of the speaker's family, with all land being connected together, this phrase could mean that there is a distinct lack of communication with their family.

The third stanza opens with a slight variation of the first stanza, with turrets being substituted with island, this indicated that the speaker can hear passing conversations on the wind. The third and fourth line can be interpreted as the speaker seeing people waiting around, anchored to the bay, which could represent a pub, with people anchored there socialising. The fifth and sixth lines are the speaker contemplating whether to leave his social isolation behind, but then they proceed in next two lines, to also contemplate staying inside, where he can't be contacted and no one knows where the speaker is. This stanza finishes with the overarching question of the poem, hold you poison or grapes?

The final full stanza starts of stating that the speaker is caught in two minds, to leave or stay, which is what the poem is all about, embracing the outside world or staying and proceeding to live his current life of social isolation. In the final 3 lines of the stanza, the speakers really starts to consider leaving his isolation behind and going out into the big world that is around his island bound by flesh and bone. And with the final two lines of the poem, the speaker finally has made his mind up, proceeding to leave his dwelling of solitude and make for civilisation. There is a image in my mind that I'm seeing, which is of a silhouetted figure opening a door and proceeding to leave his fortress of solitude and being ready to embrace the overarching question, which also happens to be the last line of the poem, hold you poison or grapes?…...

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