Kathleen Raine: Poems Themes

Kathleen Raine: Poems Themes

The Importance of Money - "Worry About Money"

Money is the central theme of the poem. The speaker appears to have an ambiguous relationship with money. On one hand, she implies to not need any money for herself. Even though her bank account is empty, she doesn't care about the implications that this has for her (no money to pay for food or shelter), only for her donation habits. Given that the speaker acknowledges that she is now living in poverty, it appears unlikely that her livelihood is provided for by someone else. On the other hand, she cares deeply about being able to give money to others.

While the speaker implies that her motivation is purely generosity and the wish to do good (by referring to her inner angel), the last stanza reveals her true intention: the speaker (apparently following the Christian faith) believes that only by giving will one receive, which stems from a biblical story about a poor widow who shared her last parcels of food and was rewarded manifold.

Dreams - "Nocturne"

The poem describes how the speaker imagines the land of dreams. In the first stanza she pictures the scene that dreams need calmness and time in order to develop, as well as the protective presence of an angel. After the speaker has curled up at the angel’s feet and is ready to dream, she reveals that dreams also have a dark side, which worries the speaker.

Dreams are then personified in the shape of a butterfly, which are described to be very precious both in their fragility as well as their worth (they are said to have “jeweled eyes” in line 10). The speaker imagines that everyone is collectively lying down together at the angel’s feet and paints the picture of a swarm of butterflies that leave the dreamers to go and explore. Where the butterflies go will ultimately decide what kind of dream its human sleeper will have (good or bad) implying that the dreamers themselves have no power or control.

The Inevitability of Change - "Change"

The central theme of the poem is change. In every stanza, different parts of nature are reminded by their peers that absolutely all of them will be eventually subject to change. For some, this means a repeating cycle of change, where they will eternally come and go (such as the moon or the stars), while others will need to progress (such as a bud that will turn into a rose). The last group, which is currently in their prime (such as the rose or a beautiful young maiden) are reminded that their time is finite and from now on they will change for worse (losing their youth and beauty). The fact that the poem alternates between addressers and recipients shows how everyone and everything is affected by change.

Change, however, is not only described as the physical change that is visible in nature or the human body, but also the metaphorical changes of heart and values that are necessary for the human mind to grow and progress. While the poem stresses the inevitability of these changes, there is also a comfort visible in the knowledge that change is an essential (and shared) part of the experience of living.

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