Spark By Charles Bukowski Charles Bukowski is a deceased German aspired writer. His poem ‘Spark’ tells the story of a working man who feels like he’s been restricted by society’s boundaries. Falling in deep depression the man contemplates suicide; however a ‘spark’ inside of him potentially saves his life giving him hope to continue living. The poem ‘Spark’ is a reflection of Bukowski’s life as it tells of the same experiences the persona of the poem goes through compared to Bukowski. The man is familiar to “the worst kind of women, they killed what the job failed to kill” likewise with Bukowski.
Bukowski also had to work in factories before emerging as a poet who is also reflected by the man and his journey from near suicide to freedom of expectations and boundaries of society. The challenges present in the poem are the problems of conformity which lead to depression and the loss of creativity as well as human self-expression. The man has chosen to lead a regular life, where most of his days are spent trapped in the same four corners repeatedly doing the same thing. He describes it as “dull and senseless work” and metaphorically refers to it as “monotony” as it lacks interest and variety.
He cannot withhold the challenge of just merely existing as he feels like he should be living life. Another challenge he faces is being witness to the other workers’ submission to the work. He states that “seeing them that way drove me almost as crazy” and “the work pounded them to nothingness”. The man bears witness to theft of individuality and the creative impulses as well as the independent thoughts of the workers and himself, aggravating him and plunging him into the depths of depression and towards thoughts of self-harm.
These challenges are conveyed through the use of various techniques. The composer uses metaphors comparing the work to murder or a monotonic world. Bukowski also utilises the use of first person in order to captivate audiences and therefore evoke empathy for the persona of the poem. Repetition is also used throughout the poem to exaggerate the depression the work brings. “I resented each minute, every minute” – reiteration of ‘minute’ conveys that sense of time is messed up and appears to repeat itself similarly to how the man would feel when working.
However, hope is also present in the poem. The man on the verge of giving up and dying, “Something in me said, go ahead, die, sleep, become as them, accept” finds the tiniest bit of hope inside of himself. Dying physically and mentally, his humanity and will retaliates against the expectations of the robotic society around him. He rebels against the system in hopes for a better future. Hope is metaphorically represented by the ‘spark’. It emphasises that hope does not need to come in huge quantities but even the tiniest bit “can set a whole forest on fire”.
The ‘spark’ is the creativity and qualities of being human – the things that separate those depicted in the poem and those who are truly happy and alive. A special technique used to distinguish hope from challenge in the poem is the break in consistency of ‘I’ in the 8th stanza compared to the other 7 stanzas. It emphasises the break of routine and the conformity throughout the poem. ‘The Road’ and ‘Spark’ are very different to each other in terms of content and the theme of challenge and hope.
The similarity of the two is that in both texts, the personas successfully meet the challenge with the similar hope for the future. The two texts are also very dependent on ‘luck’ as in ‘The Road’ the man and the boy always get lucky and are able to find food in their direst moment. Likewise, in ‘Spark’ the man describes his success as “what a lucky god damned thing”, stating that it was mainly because of luck the ‘spark’ had helped him out of his direst moment and came out on top.
The difference between the two is ‘The Road’ is based on the challenge of survival whilst ‘Spark’ highlights the issues in society and repression of self-expression in everyday life. The purpose of ‘Spark’ is to influence readers and convey hope. It serves as evidence that a ‘spark’ can change a person’s life and that even the tiniest bit of hope is able to turn a bad situation into a good one. Its intended audience is mainly for working citizens and young adults as reminder that self-expression and human creativity should not be repressed and dreams and desires should be followed and sought after, as that is what true happiness is.