When people are armed with weapons, they tend to do reckless things that they later end up regretting. It is often not until after a man commits a crime that he realizes the audacity of it. This, of course, does not only apply only to palpable weapons, such as guns, but also to intangible weapons, such as words. Just through the use of words, one can torment another past the point of no return. I was shown this in Edgar Lee Master's metaphorical poem "The Unknown" from his book, Spoon River Anthology. This poem revealed how a relationship can be permanently damaged through the example of a boy and a hawk.
The web of human emotion is an intricate one, and once impaled, it is difficult to repair. Because this web is so intricate, one has to tiptoe very lightly when it comes to someone's feelings. Whether he realizes it or not, once a man oversteps an emotional boundary, the task of redeeming himself can be nearly impossible to complete. He can say that he is sorry as much as he wants, but the damage is usually already done. I believe that this illustrates the message that the author is trying to send the reader.
Now that I look back, I realize that I have personally witnessed the effects of a deeply wounded friendship. Usually, when a problem with a friend arises, I find it easy to work through. But last year, I found myself friends with someone who constantly showered me with negative remarks and a pessimistic attitude. This poem brilliantly illustrates my former friendship because to me, it shows how she shot me out of the tree and wounded me. While listening to her insincere apologies over and over, I eventually learned to forgive her and then we parted ways. Unlike the caged hawk, I discovered how to set myself free: the key is forgiveness.
When someone hurts me, I would rather try to forgive them and move on than sit and bask in resentment. For some people, forgiveness is not that easy to bestow upon one who has hurt them. Masters is attempting to communicate this to his reader. In the poem, he has appealed to the people in two tough situations: the tormented and the tormentor. He shows one side by depicting the painful struggle of tormented souls through the wounded and caged hawk. The other side is illustrated through the guilty boy who begged for the forgiveness and friendship of the bird.
Throughout this book, Edgar Lee Masters cleverly teaches a variety of lessons by presenting them in individual poems. Out of the 245 poems, I chose "The Unknown" because I believe that it gives great advice. Masters advises the reader to not do or say anything recklessly; but he also says that if a man does something recklessly, he must live with the consequences and not expect forgiveness.