Richard Wilbur has done analysis of the senselessness towards the waste newspapers in his poem “After the Last Bulletins” as revealed by its critical appreciation. It is a well known fact that poetry becomes ambiguous no matter how much clarity a poet brings in it. “After the Last Bulletins” is also one of those poems, that lack lucidity, hence, to do critical appreciation of this poem, one must know meaning of each and every word. At least two types of meanings of every word are there because of ambiguity; one is surface meaning and second is the real meaning which is also obtained through symbolism. The poet has no idea in his mind, therefore, the poem is just an illustration of his thought. In this way, the poem is entirely based on philosophy of Richard Wilbur.
Critical Analysis/Appreciation of After the Last Bulletins:
What happens with the newspapers after their expiry and how does a newspaper effect on the minds of people? These questions are answered in this poem. We know that a newspaper loses its value after twenty-four hours, however, its impact remains on the minds of people forever. Richard Wilbur has explained this very philosophy in this poem.
Symbolism starts with the first line of this poem. When people read newspaper they start taking interest in others. It is human psyche that he wants to know about others. He wants information. Man is a social animal but social interaction is not enough. He wants to know what is happening around him. Critical analysis/appreciation of line “After the last bulletins the windows darken” suggests that people have closed their interests in others after reading the newspaper. First line of the poem, in this way, is highly symbolic.
“City founders” in the second line are the officials of newspapers, who sleep peacefully after completing their respective works. They have made the newspaper ready for upcoming day and are going to slide on their “pillows”. They are satisfied with their work, which they have completed after a lot of efforts. After completing their work, officials drown in deep sleep as the Gibraltar island drowned in Atlantic Sea. Meaning thereby, they want a peaceful sleep, however, that does not mean people have forgotten them; they are alive in shape of newspapers.
“The wind rises” and spreads every news in different homes. Wind is a symbol of medium. It also suggests that news spreads in the city like wind blows and everyone feels it immediately. After reading the news from newspaper, people start considering the old newspaper a waste. It is a trash for them. These lines have also hidden meanings. Newspaper has its own importance in the eyes of people but soon it loses its importance. Curiosity increases importance, hence, sometimes a thing becomes highly vital for a person but when he gets it, that thing loses its importance right away.
Critical Analysis/Appreciation of Stanza III of “After the Last Bulletins”:
Newspaper goes in limitless directions. They fly here and there. Of course, it is waste that is scattered everywhere. It has no value in the eyes of people. Nonetheless, its impact is on people’s mind. People talk to each other after they acknowledge a news of their respect region. Newspaper in this way has a “positive eye” because it increases social interaction. People get new subjects to talk on them and they discuss every news whenever they find time. It should be kept in mind that newspaper is not increasing knowledge, it just increases curiosity. Knowledge and information are two different things. Newspaper gives more information and less knowledge to people. “Statue for dead” symbolizes for immobility. Poet presents motionless picture of society. Newspapers are delivered at home, people read them and then they are thrown in trash. Everyday this procedure is repeated.
Critical analysis/appreciation of fourth stanza of “After the Last Bulletins” reveals that it is the explanation and continuation of third stanza. Newspaper serve another purpose. It is newspaper through which people remembers “noble names” of dead persons. Everyday, in newspapers we find headlines of past works of dead persons.
Both theses stanzas emphasize the importance of wast in society. Apart from surface meanings of waste, deeper meanings have its own importance. Newspapers do not become waste when people read them, instead, they are waste from the very beginning when they were published. The poet is of the view that newspapers fill people’s mind with purposeless information. It serves no useful purpose at all. Newspaper officials, editors and owners publish newspapers to earn their livelihood. They have no concern whatsoever on the impact of news on the minds of people.
Critical analysis of “Our Journals spiral in fierce noyade” in stanza fourth of “After the Last Bulletins” points out that the poet is taking about newspaper owners and not directly about the newspapers. They do not print newspapers because of the welfare of people but for their own benefits. He sheds tear on the situation. The newspapers are deeply influencing our minds. They are drowning our minds. They alter people’s interest. Ultimately, agencies publish newspapers as per interest of people.
Critical Analysis/Appreciation of Stanza V of “After the Last Bulletins”:
This stanza is about the importance of newspapers after their expiry. Newspapers are twisted and scattered here and there and have lost their importance. After spending whole day, they are now useless for everyone. “Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet” symbolizes the worthlessness of words that are printed in the newspapers. It is not the paper that has become useless but the words in it. Nonetheless “gutters flail” is a symbol that every word of newspaper has deeply influenced the minds. Newspapers are filling the minds of people with garbage. After that, hot topics of newspapers become cold as snow. Here we see repetition of sense in the poem. The poet again talks about the waste-newspapers, however, his method is somewhat different from the former one.
The poet maintains flow as well as sensitivity of the poem. In his eyes an emperor has no interest in any kind of newspaper. When scattered newspapers hit emperors’s horse, he hates it. Critical and deeper analysis of Stanza VI of “After the Last Bulletins” transpires that interest appreciation of prominent people in the newspapers is managed. People read about prominent people in the newspapers but prominent persons have no interest in them. “Emperor” is a symbol of eminent person and horse symbolizes for the people around him. Neither the well known people nor their representatives are interested in newspapers. Perhaps the poet wants to say that it is only the middle class which is interested the most in newspapers and not the upper/elite class.
Critical Analysis/Appreciation of Stanza VII of “After the Last Bulletins”:
Apparent duration of the poem is twenty four hours. At night, we see the downcast condition of the newspapers. It seems that newspapers are no more wanted. Newspaper agencies do not need to print any new newspaper anymore. In morning the poet, like other people of his society, wakes up and is ready to go to work. It is end of obscurity for newspapers. Nevertheless, first thing the poet wants in the morning is newspaper again. He sees other people sitting in the parks, who have newspapers in their hands. “And you and I” from last stanza clears obscurity in seventh stanza. We, like poet, again want newspaper in the next morning soon after we wake up from sleep. This cycle is repeated daily.
Newspaper life-cycle presented in the poem is actually the daily life-cycle of every person. People wakes up fresh, get ready for work and return home as if the work has ended and the offices has no more importance in their eyes but next morning when they wake up they again go to work. Modern life is like newspapers. Work has importance in people’s lives in the morning but at the end it looses its importance. This procedure is repeated daily.
People, walking in the gardens, seem confident because of hope. Although the poet has portrayed a depressed life-cycle yet people wake up with optimistic approach. They are setting aside the waste newspaper with their sticks as they hate them which is symbol that people do not want old garbage in their minds. They want something new. With curiosity, they want to fill their minds with fresh information. “Songbirds” are activities of people in the gardens and public places. Some people are interested in buying new newspapers whereas some do not want them. The poet marks them as senseless and sensitive people.
Conclusion of Critical Analysis/Appreciation of After the Last Bulletins:
The poet has presented his unique philosophy. In addition to surface meanings of the poem, deeper meanings have their own importance. Modern poets have the ability to write poems without any specific idea. They can present valuable philosophy in their poems. When they do so, they have to choose complex words in order to maintain sequence, structure and rhythm of the poem. However, choice of rhythmic words make the poem ambiguous. Imagery used in the poem is not unique but simple and lucid. The poem also lacks unity of time and place. A stanza talks about one thing but in second stanza, the poet changes his thinking so far as imagery of the poem is concerned.
Feelings and problems discussed in the poem are modern in nature. Only that person who is living in modern era and fighting against problems of boredom, senselessness and ignorance can feel it. Still there is much ambiguity in this poem because of uncertainty. All in all the poem is highly influencive because of though provoking philosophy.
- Write critical analysis/appreciation of “After the Last Bulletins” by Richard Wilbur.
- “After the Last Bulletins” is a modern poem, write with reference to critical analysis/appreciation of “After the Last Bulletins”.