Wedding Ring by Denise Levertov
Poetry is a very powerful way of communication between a writer and a reader. Just like other forms of literature, poetry reflects the thoughts, wisdom, and sensibilities of the one who created it. Since poetry is a combination of symbolism and different parts of speech presented in a creative way, every reader sees and interprets it in his or her own way. Its meaning is just like a big puzzle that one should put together wherein most of the time, the writer chooses not to reveal it. Moreover, in classical poetry, it is sometimes impossible to know its meaning because those who created it are long gone from this world.
However, the impact that poetry has on people depends on how they are going to perceive its meaning. Wedding ring, they say, symbolizes love, commitment, and eternity which are supposedly found and shared in marriage. The man who gives the wedding ring represents a part of himself. and the meaning he gives to it represents his love and identity as a person. The wedding ring for a woman who will accept it in return may perceive it as a symbol of hope, responsibility, and reciprocity of feelings and fulfillment of dreams.
In “Wedding Ring” by Denise Levertov, the author explores the speaker’s relationship with the wedding ring developed in time. Just like any other poetry, Levertov uses figures of speech and literary devices to illustrate what the wedding ring means to the speaker after the wedding day. Thus, the poem is not an attempt to discourage the readers towards marriage, but it shows how the unfulfilled promises and meaning of a particular object greatly affects a person, and how its given meaning makes us yearn too much only to find out that we are trapped in false expectations that are destructive.
There is sadness in the tone of the speaker in the first two lines that indicate the location of her wedding ring now in her life: “My wedding ring lies in a basket / as if at the bottom of a well” (Line 1-2). The first two lines paint a picture about a woman who tries to detach and depart with the memories of her marriage. It gives a subtle description about how her marriage ended up. It was in a low point or “at the bottom of a well.
” Clearly, the speaker displays a point of comparison between the location of the wedding ring in her life and her feelings. Perhaps, the speaker never fully experienced the real meaning and promises brought by the wedding ring during her marriage, so just like any other meaningless thingit must be kept and never to be seen. In the third and fourth line, the persona says, “Nothing will come to fish it back up / and onto my finger again” which may mean that she is now separated with her husband.
If there will come a time when he will come back or someone will offer her again the promises of the wedding ring, she may not be able to accept it anymore. The image of the wedding ring’s location is further described as she writes, “It lies / among keys to abandoned houses,” (Line 5-6) which suggests that the memories that the object represent are one of the things that she wants to abandon and desert. The memories it brings are perhaps painful that are not worth unlocking, just like the “abandoned houses. ” However, the words “it lies” in the 5th line can have two meanings.
The apparent meaning is that the wedding ring is situated “among keys to abandoned houses,” but since the speaker alienated “it lies” from the 6th line, there is a possibility that she is emphasizing that “it lies” presents a double meaning. “It lies” may mean that the wedding ring has ill truths. How can a wedding ring symbolize eternity when her beloved is now worth forgetting? The promises it holds do not always happen. She further describes her wedding ring just like “nails waiting to be needed and hammered” (line 7).
Nails may mean sharpness that, when used to fasten or join a wood, they build permanence after joining the two things. The pain she feels is like the nail that creates permanence which takes effort to finally separate and split. However, just like the nails waiting to be needed and hammered “into some wall” (line 8), her pain is waiting to be needed too. The learning she acquires in her marriage can be beneficial for her life in the long run. The benefits can be just like a “wall” where she can lean against it, reminding her about the strength that the experience brought unto her.
Though the speaker almost denounces the presence of the wedding ring in her life and gives much thought to finally remove the ring out of her life, she gives reasons not to: “It can’t be sold / for the marriage was good in its own / time, though that time is gone” (Line 13-15). For her, the wedding ring, the things it symbolizes, and the memories it brings will be always be a part of her. The power of the ring, though painful, provided her some restrictions to forget completely. Although some memories are painful, one can turn them into something beautiful and constructive.
Here, the author still believes that her marriage provided her something good since not all memories are bad anyway. There are memories that are worth keeping, just like the friendship they created or the love that made her realize about the realities of this world. Even if humans wants to escape from their memories, they give a power over them, so all they need to do is to make memories, whether good or bad. The speaker obviously understood that. “Though that time is gone” of being with him physically, she will always have the memories they created together.
The ring also “[…] can’t be given away / for fear of bringing ill-luck” (lines 11-12). The speaker is afraid that whoever gets the ring after letting go of it may experience the same thing. For her, the wedding ring is like a curse that gives misfortune. The last six lines of the poem calls for a transformation wherein the persona wants to change reality. No one can particularly define whether these are words of hope and optimism when she said, “Could some artificer / beat into it bright stones, transform it” (line 16-17).
The fact that she is asking for an artificer or an extreme wizard means the transformation she wants to achieve is almost impossible to attain. She also uses the word “beat” which is a powerful word associated with the word “force” which suggests that it is going to take a massive power and strength to change the meaning and the nature of the wedding ring into something different. She uses an outside force or another participant which is the artificer to transform the wedding ring because she cannot possibly do it alone.
The wedding ring originally has a lot of things to promise, giving false expectations that every marriage is ideal. The writer seems to ask whether it will be possible that the wedding ring will symbolize less than the one it originally symbolizes. Transform it or change it “into a dazzling circlet no one could take / for solemn betrothal or to make promises” as she clearly expresses that she wants to change the wedding ring into a safer zone, which implies that instead of applying the meaning of the wedding ring in marriage, it would be best to make promises inside friendship.
Friendship is something no one can take away; real friendship is forever. However, being a lover requires many expectations and deeper human attachment and feelings which can cause them to separate in the long run, and separation will make the commitment meaningless. “Living will not let them keep? Change it” (Line 20) suggests that living together as husband and wife will not guarantee permanence and forever, but the promise of permanence is always found in friendship where commitment and expectations are fewer.
The meaning of wedding ring which is eternity and commitment is easier to achieve in friendship as she seals her poetry by saying that she wants the wedding ring to be “a simple gift I could give in friendship” (Line 21). The fact that Denise Levertov was an American woman described by Joan Hallisey in her article as an “engaged poet that has spoken out strongly on women’s rights, peace and justice issues,” the message of the poem can also be political. In this poem, Levertov illustrates the vulnerability of a woman who easily believes in such promises.
Women’s lack of identity and women’s need of too much belongingness with a man sometimes unconsciously encourage them to engage themselves in impulsive commitment. Women can easily be drawn by fanciful words and sugar-quoted promises which may lead into despair in the long run. Work Cited Levertov, Denise. “Wedding Ring. ” The Selected Poems of Denise Levertov. Ed. Paul Lacey, Robert Creely. New York: New Directions Publishing, 2003. p. 121 Hallisey, Joan. “Denise Levertov (b. 1923). ” Georgetown University. 20 January 2009. http://www9. georgetown. edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/levertov. htmlSample Essay of Paperial.com