Too Soon a Pruning

March 14, 2012 by Ardenwa  
Published in Friendship

A response to Robert Creeley’s, "Oh No."

In society today, elders are denied respect and admiration. Robert Creeley exposes the lack of respect and the anguish felt by the elderly in the poem, “Oh No” through title choice and diction.

            The expression of cries of misery and anguish varies greatly amongst people; however, the meaning continues just as significantly. Creeley heads the poem with “Oh No.” Elderly often refuse to go into nursing homes, and any healthy person rejects death.  Through the title, Creeley shows the unwillingness of the elderly to go, wherever that may be.

            Creeley demurs the treatment of the elderly in the title, and then depicts their inability to stop life from being altered completely. Creeley shows this through diction. Throughout the poem, “they” refers to the family, friends, and nursing staff of the elderly. Referring to family and friends by “they” shows a bifurcation between past relationships and present woe. When “they…all have places” to go, the kinship breaks and the elder becomes truly alone. Moreover, Creeley displays loneliness with the redundant phrase, “yourself only.” Although “they” stay close for a while and friends “with smiles on their faces” travel the same path, one is ultimately alone. Creely denounces disrespect and abandonment of elders.

            Friendship and social acceptance appear in the third tier of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The importance of reverence for the geriatric clearly pierces through Robert Creeley’s “Oh No” through diction and title choice.

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