Poetic Elements in “Winter Starts” by Larry Levis

Pages: 3
Words: 934


The poem’s imagery of an attractive and old-fashioned town supports the text’s presentation of dementia as a gift. In the poem, the father’s thoughts are compared to a vacation destination, which people constantly visit to seek an adventure. The entire city is glowing with beautiful lights placed behind the eyes. This represents the father’s mental sense of presence as a place where people wish to go on holiday. The narrator depicts it as “a place continually / Visited, a whole city placed behind / The eyes, & shining” (31-33). The poet understands the human mind as a tool that can access different dimensions of consciousness. Establishing the link from his mind to the desired location strengthens the impression that the narrator still views his father’s mind as the magical place it once was.

The poet also associates dementia with some sense of serenity that characterizes the state of consciousness of the father. In the poem, the imagery of the elevator incident is the most striking way the author depicts the delightful benefits of dementia. The elevator is designed to represent ascension. In reality, dementia patients may experience pleasant emotions as well. They can feel content, safe, and at ease. Some persons with dementia may appear to be their regular selves practically every day.

When contrasting traveling up the elevator to transcending, the father’s mind shuts down as a method of being elated. This contributes to the poem’s theme that the father’s dementia is a privilege since being above everything is a desirable frame of consciousness. That transcending sensation usually is only given to individuals who have a one-of-a-kind gift, in this instance, dementia. The feeling of hope helps define the poet’s voice as established throughout the narrative.


Throughout the poem, the narrator’s voice is characterized by an optimistic mental attitude toward achievement and a positive future. The poem’s pathos supports the belief that dementia benefits both people who have it and others around them. It is hinted throughout the narration that the father and son had strained relationships. The narrator recounts feeling that their relationship had been tested for years stating that it has been “for years … empty” (44 – 45). As a result, the relationship appears to be nearly non-existent. The narrator’s insights regarding their meetings highlight the two’s transition from distant to close.

For instance, in the first verse, the father is characterized as formidable and intimidating, breaking hands to transition to a softened, vulnerable father trying hard to talk with his kid and hoping to solve things. The narrator is optimistic, inclining that something positive will happen in the future. According to the image depicted in the poem, optimism comes across as a mental attitude that strongly affects health and professional life. As the narrator reveals how much dementia has transformed their contact from nothing to loving, the emotion pouring through the poem’s words accentuates the metamorphosis of the father-son connection.

The narrator’s optimism toward dementia also resides in how he dives into recollection without limiting it to a final digestible form. The narrative is presented so that rhythm reflects a process of producing reality rather than reality itself. As established, poems are not a portrayal of anyone’s truth but rather a response to a variety of them. The poet does not begrudge his life and its tribulations but rather passes over them uncompromisingly, converting them into abstractions. The narration provides the reader with a sensation of feeling that way, rather than information about the narrator’s life. The manner in which experiences are elaborated in the poem help to establish the tone that the narrator adopts.


In most instances, the poet seems to be amused by his father’s experiences as a dementia patient willing to explore. The poem’s language portrays the generally grim details of a man’s steadily failing mind as a pleasurable event that draws people together. The poet evokes these lovely sentiments by employing words and images with good implications, giving dementia a positive perspective. One instance is when the narrator compares the father’s ill mentality to winter. The use of winter to characterize the circumstance gives us the impression of a less gloomy and depressing experience. Winter has this impact because it is regarded as a sign of hope. The usage of winter makes dementia appear to be something that improves with time.

Throughout the narrative, the poet explains the essence of time, its inescapability, and the sufferings it might bring in gorgeous and lyrical language and diction. The tone has shifted from melancholy to contemplative and tranquil by the end of the poem. These words are used in the poem to depict how the father adapts as the sickness progresses. The narrative alludes to the experience of having a dark and terrible connection from the past when their relationship was harsh and stiff. However, the poet contrasts the past relationship with peaceful and comforting words from later encounters with the father. The narrator is amused, offering a better picture of how the connection evolved through time, from harsh to appealing.


The poet uses literary elements such as imagery, a reassuring voice, and an amused tone to convince the reader that dementia may be beneficial. Although mental illness can trigger distress in some instances, the narrator believes that dementia can benefit both the victims and those who care for them. The use of words with a positive meaning creates an emotional, positive image in the bibliophiles’ minds. The reader may observe in the narrative how dementia fosters pleasant exchanges between the father and son, letting their bond deepen even as the father withdraws.