Everyone has a morning routine. Some people go for a morning walk, while some enjoy watching the neighborhood from their window. Just as there are a variety of morning routines, there are many different ways to view the surroundings of these activities. In “Five A. M. ” William Stafford uses personification, alliteration, and tactile imagery to express the relaxed and carefree attitude of the speaker; while Elizabeth Bishop, in her poem “Five Flights Up,” uses repetition, personification, visual imagery, and auditory imagery to express the questioning and worried mind-set of the speaker.
Almost everything about the poem “Five A. M. ” is nonchalant and seems to suggest that the speaker takes this same walk regularly. When the speaker says “my arms alternate easily to my pace,” it tells that they are not in hurry, going nowhere in no set time. The speaker also seems to know small details about the people who live in the houses they pass; “I pass the house of the couple who have the baby, the yard with the little dog,” it could be that the speaker lives in the neighborhood, or that they have picked up these details from going past often in the morning.
Another indicator that the speaker takes this walk regularly is when they say “My feet begin the uphill curve where a thicket spills with birds every spring. ” The fact that the speaker describes his feet as doing the walking could imply that he is just along for the walk while is mind is allowed to wander without care, his body taking care to follow the usual path; and the description of the birds in spring describe the hope and optimism the speaker feels. Stafford also uses a peaceful setting to show how relaxed the speaker is.
The speaker uses personification when they say “the early morning breathes a soft sound above the fire” to tell how the sun rises in an unobtrusive way. They then describe porch lights as being hooded, again not disturbing their morning walk. In the last line the speaker says “The air doesn’t stir. Rain touches my face,” again to reinforce the theme of relaxation; also telling how the rain is no bother, only touching and not striking. “Five Flights Up” is more of a poem of questions.
Bishop conveys this mind-set with a good use of repetition by using such words as inquiringly, ponderous, unkown, and—shocker—questions. She also uses lines such as “The little dog next door barks in his sleep inquiringly, just once,” to make it seem that even animals have questions. Then, Bishop uses visual imagery and metaphor in the line “gray light streaking each bare branch, each single twig, along one side, making another tree, of glassy veins,” to express that one question, once illuminated and understood, will lead to other questions.
Finally, Bishop ends with “Yesterday brought to today so lightly! (A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift. ),” meaning that until the questions from yesterday are answered, today’s questions cannot be deduced. Ultimately, these poems are opposites. Yes, one is lighthearted and carefree, while the other is worried and stressed, but there is more. “Five A. M. ” is told from a speaker that is outside, walking, and on ground level, while “Five Flights Up” is told by someone from their window, stationary, and—presumably from the title—on the fifth floor.