The Bull Calf
In the poem “The Bull Calf” the stanzas go from good to bad feeling. This is the same way that the calf’s life goes. This is also the way that the narrator’s feelings for the calf’s life go. There are also many symbols throughout the poem. Without these deeper meanings the poem is just about a calf the dies because it can’t produce any milk.
“The thing could barely stand.” (“The Bull Calf” line 1). The calf is referred to as a thing not an animal or creature. This is the way the author blocks emotion. The first line in the first stanza is a contradiction from the rest of the stanza because the rest of it has a positive attitude and the first sentence shows that the animal is weak. The third and the fourth line show the glory of the animal by hinting to royalty. The last line in the first stanza helps to back this information up by pointing to Richard the second. In the fifth line the narrator uses thee word us this connects him to the event. “The fierce sunlight tugging the maize from the ground” (“The Bull Calf” line 6). This is imagery, the sunlight showing promise and hope, maize is yellow this refers us back to the sun through the similar color. The last line refers to Richard the second this makes the poem flow better into the next stanza, Richard the second was lowered from his rank much like the calf is going to be.
“No money in bull calves”, Freeman had said.” (“The Bull Calf” line 10). This statement starts the stanza off in a negative way and contradicts the first stanza. It also introduces a man and money. This hints that men run the world of nature because of their bitter outlooks and concentration on money, which shows the bad effects of capitalism. “Snuffing pathetically” (“The Bull Calf” line 12). This shows a major contrast from the first stanza, which continues more through the poem.
My gaze slipped off his hat toward the empty sky
That circled over the black knot of men,
Over us and the calf waiting for the first blow. (“The Bull Calf” line 14-16).
This puts the event into perspective. While it is only a small event, it is related to the whole world that shows its importance.
“Struck,” (“The Bull Calf” line 17). This is the first line in the third stanza, it is only one word, but is very effective and gets the point across. The three periods in a row shows something is expected to happen it is going to be important but one does not know weather it is going to be good or bad. “Darkening eyes” this is imagery. Imagery emphasizes the effect of the idea, line, or stanza that helps the reader understands the poem.
“Of his frightened look growing smaller and smaller
Till we were only the ponderous mallet” (“The Bull Calf” line 22 & 23). This shows the unimportance of humans once this happens. The humans are degraded down to a stick. This makes sense because the calf doesn’t care about the humans, only about the weapon that did this to him. “Like a block of wood.” (“The Bull Calf” line 26). This is a simile it helps to show the harsh treatment by relating it to something else.
“It made a wet sound, a sepulchral gurgle,
As the warm sides bulged and flattened.” (“The Bull Calf” line 30 & 31). Here the narrator uses more imagery to emphasize the horrible death of the calf. The narrator uses the word “asleep” it shows that the animal is peaceful now and is in a comfortable position. “Bereft of pride and so beautiful now,” (“The Bull Calf” line 34). The calf is beautiful in death, which shows the inner beauty of the calf. “Bereft of pride” brings the reader back to the beginning of the poem but there is no pride any more. “I turned and away and wept.” (“The Bull Calf” line 36). This is the narrator’s emotion. This is important since it refers to himself, because it shows that he is upset. This one line justifies the entire poem with the extensive imagery and harsh comparisons. They are but in they’re to explain these emotions about the events of the poem.
When reading poetry you must look for the deeper meanings in every line. If just reading over poetry one cannot get the poem as whole. If you were not to look into the poem you would have not realized that this event happened while the author was watching it.

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    Bull Calf” | bull calf” | “the bull | “the bull calf” | bull calf” line | calf” line | | line stanza | line stanza helps | stanza helps | reading poetry | deeper meanings | calf’s life |  
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