A Drink of Water Themes

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Field Work is filled with elegies, some poignant, others gruesome, for victims of "The Troubles," the resurgent violence that swept through Northern Ireland in the 1970s. As many readers have noted, "A Drink of Water" appears a bit anomalous in this volume. Instead of contemplating the recent violence's terrible effects, the poem returns to a literally and metaphorically more peaceful time. In this childhood remembrance, the poet draws sustenance from the memory of kindness. To put this idea in slightly different terms, memory acts as refreshment in a time of violence.

The poem begins simply, with a conversational tone and a simile that establishes a high degree of familiarity and intimacy: "She came every morning to draw water / Like an old bat staggering up the field." The underlying tenderness cannot be missed; the speaker knows not only the woman's routine but also her particular gate and the various...

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This section contains 653 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Drink of Water Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
A Drink of Water from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.