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The Use of Despair in the Poetry of Heinrich Heine and Ghalib

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Examining the use of Despair in the Poetry of Heinrich Heine and Ghalib

As I read the poems of Heinrich Heine and Ghalib, I was amazed how they use despair to stir the thoughts and feelings of the reader. At times, my emotions were at first lifted and then quickly let down by their writing style. In some poems, despair seemed to be all that there was for man. In other poems, despair was used to highlight the never-dying hope in man’s soul. This paper will look at how both poets used despair in different ways to comment on life, death and the nature of man.
Heine’s poem "A Pine Is Standing Lonely" (Heine 616) symbolizes the despair that he sees in every man’s life. The trees in this poem represent man in two completely different situations. A pine is standing lonely In the North on a plateau. He sleeps; a bright white blanket Enshrouds him in ice and snow. (1-4)
In the first two lines, I sensed a calm and peaceful place. The tree sleeps and is covered by a blanket. Lines 3 and 4 made me start to see the despair in the tree’s world. It is covered in ice and snow on a lonely plateau. It is rooted in place and cannot move. There is no escape from the isolation and cold. Heine is suggesting that this is the fate of man.
The second verse brings us a different picture of man’s life.

He dreams of a palm tree Far away in the Eastern land Lonely and silently mourning On a sunburnt rocky strand. (5-8)
The last two lines paint an image that is totally opposite but still shows the harshness and despair of man’s` situation. The tree, man, dreams of something that cannot be. He is mourning to himself because there is no use in mourning out loud. There is no help. There is total despair.
By using two extremes, a north plateau enshrouded by ice and snow, and a sunburnt rocky strand, Heine suggests that despair is…...

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