The Pessimist essays

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The Pessimist essays

Benjamin Franklin King, Jr. (1857-1894) was an American poet and humorist.His poem The Pessimist is full of verses that illustrate how a pessimist would view life; the irony is that through King's comic wit and play on words, he is also allowing for the optimist to read the same verses and see the glass as being half full.By creating one verse with two meanings, King has created a humorous tone as he pokes fun of the pessimist.
Throughout The Pessimist, the words ending on the second and fourth lines rhyme with each other.The affect of this rhythm gives the poem a song-like quality, a sort of upbeat, playful tempo, which compliments the poem's humorous tone.
The Pessimist is a realistic poem that uses the literal meaning of words for its concrete ideas, i.e., "Nothing to do but work" (1) and "Nothing to eat but food" (2), however, it also uses connotation for abstract notion, i.e., "Nowhere to fall but off"(7) and "Nowhere to stand but on."(8)
Germanic words are used throughout the poem because The Pessimist illustrates everyday occurrences.Using Latinate words would take away from the simplicity of the verses and the realism of the poem.The illustration of everyday life is evident by verses such as "Nothing to wear but clothes"(3) and "Nothing to breathe but air."(5)

By using repetition and starting almost every line with either "Nothing or Nowhere" as in "Nothing to comb but hair" (9) and "Nowhere to sleep but in bed" (10), King manipulates the reader into assuming a pessimistic viewpoint.However, King's play on words quickly allow for an optimistic interpretation of the same line.