The focus of both these poems is centred on life and death, on how in different stages of their lives people view death in different perspectives. It also shows life can be brought to a sudden abrupt end with no preceding warning.
The poem “Another Mystery” is about a life of a man who describes his experiences with death throughout his life. He describes his perspectives on death and how he goes from, not knowing to hating and finally excepting death through different stages of his life.
The poem is planned out very well with different verses representing each stage of a mans life (three in total). In the first verse he is a little innocent boy with death still an unheard off expression, “”This is the suit your grandpa is going to leave the world in.” What on earth could he be talking about? I wondered.” He also calls death “just another mystery” like most people would, while looking back at their childhood.
Then in the next verse he had to witness the death of his father when he was older. He hated death for taking away relatives, “relatives departed this way and that, left and right” and especially his father, “Then it was my dad’s turn”. He hated the “gruesome” sight of his father, with wired lips pasted into a smile, “wired his lips into a smile, as if he wanted to reassure us. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it looks. But we knew better.” He was starting to fear dying, because he did not want to go, he hadn’t lived his life yet. He thought that there couldn’t be anything worse than dying, “He was dead, wasn’t he? What else could go wrong?”
But in the last verse he finally learns to accept death after having lived his life, he even prepares for his own death, “I picked up my own suit from the dry cleaners”.
The man has lived his life completely in “Another Mystery” and is ready to face death, however this is not the same for the young boy in “Out, Out-” who is forced into laboured jobs, requiring a older and more skilled man, because of the hardships he is faced with.
“The buzz saw snarled”, this sets up the environment and scene for the entire poem and “buzz saw snarled” acts like a mechanisation symbolism. The boy is cutting “stove-length sticks of wood” with a chainsaw, which he shouldn’t be using because of his age. He is also described as a “big boy doing a man’s work, though a child at heart”, he doesn’t want to be doing man’s work but he is left with no choice. He’d rather be playing around with other children of his age who are not forced to suffer such hardships.
He might have also been working with other people and for other people, “I wish they might have said” and “Her sister stood beside them in her apron to tell them “Supper””, each time the words they/them is used meaning that there must be others working with the boy.
The boy was probably day dreaming with a chainsaw in his hand when the word “Supper” was called out. The chain saw leapt out of the boy’s hand, “as if to prove saws knew what supper meant” and cut the boys hand off. “The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh”, the boy hadn’t really realised what he had done to his hand, but thought that it was just a minor injury. Then “he swung towards them holding up his hand, half in appeal, but half as if to keep the life from spilling” he holds onto his to try and stop himself from loosing it but to no effect.
“The boy saw all”, a sort of a pun meaning that not only did the boy see what he had done to his hand but he literally sawed it all off. “He saw all spoiled”, the boy saw everything spoilt and also he saw the spoils of the saw, his hand.
When the doctor came the boy wailed to his sister, “Don’t let him cut my hand off”, but the hand was already gone and the boy was in denial because he never thought that something like this could happen to him. “The doctor put him in the dark of ether”, he gave him an anaesthetic so that he would fall asleep and hopefully feel no pain. Nevertheless the boy died, from “Little – less – nothing!”, this describes the boys entire life. He was born with very little in a poor family, which went into less when he was forced to work and finally to nothing after loosing his hand and dying.
The people responded in such a way that it seemed that they did not even care about the death of the boy, “since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs”. The people probably thought of the boy as being easily replaceable and not worth much, which he was probably true, but still they should have shown some emotion especially from the behalf of his sister.
Another reason for this might have been that this poem was written at the time the first world war was taking place. There had been many pointless deaths so people would’ve been used to such instances and learnt to pay no attention to them, otherwise they would only end up hurting themselves emotionally.
There are many small similarities in comparison for both the poems. In “Another Mystery”, each generation is joined together with a link of a suit. His grandfather was dressed in a suit at his funeral, so was his father (even though it was a just a “cheap sports coat and tie”) and finally he had his own suite which he had picked up from the dry-cleaners at the end.
In “Out, Out-” the word saw is mentioned in different contexts many times linking up different parts of the poem.
Both the poems are focussed on life and death and how these subjects are viewed so differently by many people. They offer a wide insight into life and death and how life is very vulnerable.
Children will always take life for granted because they do not know or realise what death is. Both the poems are widely based on maturing and realising how quickly life can end and how you should make the most of it while it lasts.