Poem Turtle by Kay Ryan

Many people cannot control their adoration for animals, just as children enjoy imitating animals by flapping their wings or flexing their claws. Observing birds fly offers a pleasurable experience for humans. As a result, the question arises: if a human had the opportunity to be an animal, which animal would they choose?
Kay Ryan considers the issue in her poem, the Turtle, and concludes that the turtle is the animal that most people would not want to be. For example, the speaker in line one asks, “Who would be a turtle who could support it?” (Ryan n.d.) It is evident through the poem that turtle undergoes difficult life that can never envy by the human being. The poem Turtle was published in 1994 when she had modest hope and success but later earned the recognition of becoming the country’s Poet Laureate. Ryan indeed acknowledges the fact that she wrote the poem Turtle at the time she experienced personal frustrations. That reaction is evident in the poem in regards to the descriptions of the struggle of the turtle who only eats and is not being eaten

The narrative of the turtle evokes emotion as well as the poet’s invention of unusual images and words that are packed with meaning that creates exceptional feelings. Moreover, in the poem Turtle, boredom can be identified as one of the problems that turtle faces. As it can be seen, this single turtle animal is merely struggling to survive. It is this struggle that Ryan seeks to compare to the struggle of human beings. The poem Turtle is a free verse poem. The poem does not have the formal rhyme scheme or even the typical metrical patterns. In this sense, Ryan wanted to pass her message clear. She wanted her audience to understand the subject she highlighted for them (Ryan 39). Additionally, the poem has its unique structure. In this sense the poem is a short, compactly constructed; it has just fifteen lines, in which several lines are almost of the same length. Ryan also used slant rhymes. In her poem Turtle, Ryan used the third person and made the speaker anonymous.

Furthermore, the poem addresses subjects like freedom. The turtle is stuck and only ask for liberty to move so that it can find food. However, her freedom is blocked at every step it makes. Ryan attempts to display how human beings can struggle at every turn they make. People value freedom such that its denial can lead to their hopelessness of their dream. Another subject Ryan highlights importance of perseverance; in the poem, the turtle is depicted as a persevering animal. In this sense, Ryan encourages human beings to persevere in their endeavors (Ryan 39). Ryan also seeks to address women and femininity issue in general. Some people view Turtle as the feminist poem, although some view links it to typical roles of women in the society.

In the poem Turtle, an unknown speaker explains mundane dangers as well as challenges of a feminine turtle’s existence. The turtle’s progress remains cumbersome, as she (turtle) struggles to search for food, run away from injury, and keep away from predators.

Turtle vividly describes the everyday struggle of the turtle that bears the burden of traveling with a heavy shell. Thus, this load makes turtle’s trip to look for food quite difficult, hazardous and cumbersome (Ryan 39). Therefore, with a lot of struggles and obstacles, the turtle feel hopeless but preserves to survive. Besides, the outcome of the repeated and tedious tasks is indeed the growth of an unbelievable virtue of patience. Most people understand the turtle as an icon for perseverance. Even though the struggle to attain her goal is extremely difficult, the tenacity of the turtle seems to pay off in two means: firsts, the turtle attains her goal of receiving food and acquires patience. Thus, Ryan uses metaphorical language to so highlight the theme of patience. Overall, others may interpret the theme of the poem as animal cruelty. The tone of the poem is sad. The poet reveals how the turtle struggles to cross the ditch with the obstacle preventing her from crossing. For instance, “her way to something edible; with everything optimal, she skirts the ditch which would convert her shell into a serving dish” (Ryan 39). The implication is that whenever the turtle struggles to cross over the ditch, there is a deadfall that may kill it.

Importantly, Ryan applied poetic devices to support his thoughts. “With everything optimal, she skirts the ditch which would convert Her shell into a serving dish” (Ryan 39). In this case, the poet applies assonance; Ditch, which, dish. The assonance is rhythmic. Moreover, Ryan applies imagery very efficiently that while one reads the poem, they envisage a picture For instance, “Her track is graceless, like dragging a packing-case places,” The implication is that a turtle moves through the grassland slowly thereby making a pathway behind it. In the poem, the contradiction is inherent: it the turtle moves in spite of the difficulties it faces. The poem evokes various emotions. First, in the line “four-oared helmet,” she must “row” over (39) the land, In a manner that suggests that the land has obstacles that hinder the movement.

The poem encourages everyone to works hard despite their slow start. For instance in line one, “Who would be a turtle who could help it?” (39). In this case, the poet likens us to the turtle who keeps on with the struggle. As a matter of fact, the progress of human development begins with their endurance. Humility is another subject that the poem addresses. Thus, people are encouraged to embrace humility to get whatever thing they want to have in life. The implication is that the slow start does not mean our failures.

The poet used the rhetorical question to suggest that it is terrible and forces readers to consider other possibilities in life. Similarly, the metaphor compares the shield to a helmet and explores the physical issues and obstacles to human progress. The simile is also used to compare the movement of the turtle to that of a package that is being dragged: “like the marks, humans leave behind” (Ryan 39). The author applies the term turtle in a demeaning way for she detests the nature of impatience.

In a wider concept that poem can be interpreted to represent a huge number of immigrant workers who still face difficult times to make ends meet. These immigrant employees experience stagnant wages as well as reducing job security. Moreover, these immigrants’ employees are given meager wages that cannot help meet their unending needs. Also, the poem to some extent explores the plight of the marginalized group. They usually, immigrants people experience frequently challenges as well as discrimination which are not of necessity common to the non- immigrants people; nor by the immigrants individuals. These marginalized groups are portrayed to be facing a lot of difficulties. Many immigrants manual employ have opted to take several different jobs to have stable finance so that they can make end meet. This situation has left many immigrants people wondering on how they can succeed in life (Ryan 39). Despite the efforts they are outing to work, they air still unable to be paid some money that can enable them to buy most things they need in life. For instance, line one of the poems clearly states “Who would be a turtle who could help it? This line expresses inability of some groups of people to achieve success in life.

Notably, in the view of Ryan, human beings have replaced their love for all humanity to their individual self. It is common to find out today that some of the human’s obstacles are created by the fellow people. The question that begs is whether human beings mean well as for one another. Additionally, some have placed a lot of value on the material wealth and allowing material wealth to define their personality and their self-worth. Notable, money remains to be applied as therapy mainly when an individual has the feeling of depression. In this sense, the poem encourages (Ryan 39). Besides, we are advised that people ought to spend most of their time working on the self -worth as well as appreciating the gifts. These gifts comprise of good friends, health, and loving family among others. Thus, by allowing the material wealth to be in control, all the aspects of lives of the people, then individuals will be considered to be enslaved by it which does not at all experience every real result. Moreover, the poem emphasizes on the virtue determination. We should also provide the conducive environment for everyone also to struggle to make end meet. The turtle struggled and eventually won the struggle.

In conclusion, in the poem, Turtle, has an unknown speaker who explains ordinary dangers as well as problems that deal with a feminine turtle’s life. The turtle’s progress is indeed challenging and cumbersome, as she struggles to look for food. The turtle also struggles to escape the imminent dangers and predators that prevent it on searching for food. Besides, the outcome of the frequent and tedious responsibilities is indeed the growth of an implausible virtue of true patience. Most people usually understand the turtle as an image for hard work and perseverance. Though the struggle to achieve her aim is extremely complicated, the tenacity of the turtle appears to pay off. The turtle attains her goal of receiving food and acquires patience. Thus, Ryan uses metaphorical language to highlight the theme of patience. Overall, this is one of the poems that is thrilling and relevant in our today’s society. The poem encourages equality society with a fair playing ground. As such the poem encourages hard work, perseverance, and patience as virtues that can take the human from place to another.

Work Cited

Ryan, Kay. “The Turtle’.” (1985): 39-39. https://rudderresponse.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/72738995/The%20Turtle%20and%20Travel.pdf

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