In the Summary and analysis of Bat by D. H. Lawrence the poem starts with the poet’s persona description of the nature of his environment as if he is talking to someone. At the beginning of the poem, the poet’s persona sits somewhere in Florence and admires the dying sun’s beauty. He watches the sun go down. However, his description seems to be the opposite as the sunrises in the East and sets in the West. The poet’s persona claims the sun comes from the West, passing through Pisa and the Mountains of Carrara.
In the second stanza, he describes how the light reflects on the stream to create a vivid picture of the sun setting on a city or river. As he admires this beautiful scenery, his attention is called to something flying through the arches of Ponte Vecchio. This happens between the close of the day and night; that is the point of the day before it becomes completely dark.
The poet’s persona admires the spools of dark thread sewing formed by the birds’ flight, which he assumes are Swallows because of how they fly together. At this point, the poet’s persona observes the picture created by the birds as they fly. The birds fly in ‘circle swoop’ and semi-circle, which reveals the birds’ freedom and ecstasy. Lines 14 & 15 ‘A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air. /A dip of the water.’ He goes further in lines 16 & 17 to reveal his confusion and doubt about birds’ nature. He knows swallow hardly fly late, and they are famous for flocking together in hundreds or thousands. In line 18, he asks himself an intuitive question. ‘Swallows?’
Hatred: The poet considered bats as the ugliest of all creatures. His description of bats really shows the hatred. Bat is seen as an old rag, always sleep upside down.
Nature: The poet gave reference to nature. Names of ancient cities, places in Italy like Pisa, Florence, Mountains of Carrara, the arches of the Ponte Vecchino and River Arno were beautifully described. The poet also revered ‘’the sun from the west’’, ‘’evening’’, ‘’tired flower’’, ‘’Brown hills’’, ‘’air’’, ‘’the water’’ as parts of nature.
Happiness: Bats is a symbol of happiness in China. The poet sees it as a bad omen. It shows that what a person dislike may be a thing of happiness to others.
POETIC DEVICES FROM THE POEM:
Language: Lawrence used violent words or expression to express his hatred for bats. Words like ‘’flying madly,’’ ‘’voices indefinite, ’’wildly vindictive,’’ ‘’old rags,’’ ‘’disgusting,’’ ‘’Black Piper.’’ The use of ‘’black’’ here connotes ‘’devil’’ or ‘’evil.’’ ‘’Disgusting’’ means something bad, unfair, inappropriate that you feel annoyed and angry.
Allusion: It is making reference to something which is already known by a reader or listener. ‘’Ponte Vecchio’’ is a medieval stoned-a segmental arch bridge over the Arnol River, in Florence, Italy. Another way is ‘’Mountain Carrara’’—Carrara marble is a type of white or blue-grey marble of high quality, popular for use in sculpture and building decoration.
Simile: This is when two things that share same features but are from different nature are compared. The poet compared the ugly appearance of bats with an umbrella. ‘’Wings like bits of umbrella.’’ Others are ‘’creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag’’, ‘’like a glove, a black glove thrown up at night.’’ The descriptions of bats indicated the poet’s hatred for the creature.
Personification: It is when inanimate objects are given human attributes. ‘’When the tired flower of Florence.’’ Line 5. Flowers can never be tired like human beings. Bats behave like an insane person in being ‘’flying madly’’ line 33. Swallows behave like tailors when they are ‘’sewing the shadows together’’ line 11.
Alliteration: The repetition of same sounds was employed in this poem. ‘’When the tired flower of Florence (f,f) line 4. ‘’ A twitch a twitter’’ line 21 (t, t) . ‘’little lumps that fly (L, L)
Rhetorical Questions: Questions that demand no answers. ‘’Swallows?, ‘’Never Swallows! Bats!’’ ‘’Bats. Not for me!’’ All these were used to emphasize the poet’s hatred for bats.
Repetition: It is when an expression or a word is used more than one tome. Words like ‘’upside down’’, ‘’old rags’’ and ‘’disgusting’’ shows the poet’s strong hatred for bats. Other repeated words are ‘’glove’’, ‘’swallows’’ and ‘’Bats’’.
Antithesis: It is the use of two contrasting words, phrases or sentences. Bats are the symbol of happiness and good fortune in China but the poet sees bats as disgusting and ill-omen creatures.
Metaphor: It is the direct comparison of two things that share same qualities but different nature. The poet compared bats: ‘’And serrated wings against the sky’’ line 22, ‘’Black Piper’’ line 35. ‘’Little lumps that fly in air’’ line 36. These comparisons are based on his hatred towards bats.
Imagery: The creation of mental picture in reader’s mind. We could see the image of the way bats fly, sleep upside down, their wings like a wretched umbrella.
- Discuss the use of negative adjectives in the poem.
- Metaphorically, life promises swallows and ends up giving bats. Discuss.
- Examine the setting of the poem “Bat”
- What is the significant theme in Lawrence’s “Bat”?
- Discuss the similarities and dissimilarities between the two nocturnal birds.