"The Scientist" By Janet Burroway: Commonality Within The Skull

1035 words - 5 pages

The way one analyzes any aspect of life depends a great deal on the way one grew up or what was learned throughout the course of life. Such is also true with literature. Initially in Janet Burroway's poem, "The Scientist," the two characters appear to fit the stereotypical roles of their professions. The uncertainty this causes throughout the poem allows the reader to apply a universal theme to life. It is through Burroway's language, imagery, and irony that she creates an unlikely-shared awareness between the poet and scientist.The structure of this nine-stanza poem makes it easy for the reader to relate tones associated with select stanzas. The poem opens with the male scientist explaining ...view middle of the document...

The observations made by the poet step beyond traditional bounds found in the scientist and show an innovative thought process.Although the poet and scientist seem like opposites to one another, they have the common bond that is displayed throughout "The Scientist." The imagery brought out by each character, helps to reflect this similarity. The scientist is discussed while he is cradling the skull, denying its significance, and more or less leaves no image of this "worthless" possession. It is not until he discusses how "'The skin and the brain, of course are another question,' / He said again, 'but there's nothing to the skull.'" (ln 23-24), that one can understand the connection between the artistic and the scientific. For the artist describes poetry as "My hand between this thought and the posturing stanza" (ln 28), this is essentially the same concept of the in-between elements for each have little importance to their work.Burroway takes both hand and skull and combines them into prerequisites to the great issue of poetry and thought. She furthers this intertwining in the eighth stanza, in which there is literary phrases to describe the physical attributes of the skull. "Eyes rhymed depth from the sockets of that example; / His jawline articulated with the temple / Over the words, and his fingers along the bone." By describing different spots on the skull with components from her profession, almost personifying them, it helps to merge the two different worlds and views.Within the nine stanzas, each being four lines long, there is not definitive rhythm, but a full rhyme for the first eight stanzas following an abba cddc pattern. For the final stanza this rhyme alters to q--q, where the middle two lines have no rhyme. Burroway most likely did this to draw attention to these lines, "So that, wonderfully, I justify his doubt: / Am, moved, as woman to love, as...

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