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Reindeer And Engine

4 Pages 920 Words

Reindeer and Engine is a poem from a collection of Josephine Jacobson’s work, ‘The Animal Inside’ (1966). The main theme of the poem is the image of a frantically running reindeer being chased by the blinding light of an engine along a forest track through the Finland winter.

The first stanza of the poem begins with the image of the reindeer being chased down the railway track through the Finnish forest, fixed to the ‘great round eye’ of light at the front of the engine. At the fifth line of this stanza, as is the case in the other three stanzas, there is the repetition of ‘run run run run run’. This repetition helps communicate the frantic and panicky nature of the reindeer’s running, and increases the pace of the poem. The poem then goes on to possibly foresee the death of the reindeer before the beam of light that is the engine. The detail that states the reindeer will ‘not look back’ suggests that the reindeer is so fixated with its fear of the engine behind it, it cannot even turn around to view it’s oncoming presence.

The second stanza continues this theme of impulsive running of the reindeer. The reindeer will not look aside or behind him, he’s so obsessed with the light chasing him. Here the poem begins to look at the binary oppositions between good and bad, and dark and light. However, whilst usually dark is associated with the negative and bad, and light with good, in Reindeer and Engine, the coupling is reversed (ie. the dark is associated with good). It is the ‘good dark’ of the ‘forests of winter’ as opposed the whitehot splinter of light through the head of the reindeer. The deepness and tallness of the black forest has on it’s own a eerie sort of connotation, but in the context of the poem represents the deepness of the safety the forest has. However, the reindeer is too fixated on the light ‘thrust through his brain’s nerve’, lodged like a splinter, to look away to see th...

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