In this paper, I will explore how Mahon breathes life into these ordinary, everyday objects. I will look at how Mahon goes beyond merely giving them human characteristics (for example appealing to our visual sense and making something 'look' human); it is important to also show how Mahon makes us believe that they have feelings, and can experience different sounds and form judgments, just like we can.
'Table Talk' is fascinating because it speaks of a piece of furniture with a past: "When I was pine and lived in a cold climate." This table in question is not the focus of Mahon's attention because it looks or sounds in someway human; it has a history, like people. The table can remember when it was a tree, and the "chain-saw surgery" it endured in order to transform into furniture. It longs to "dance" again, no doubt in the breeze of its natural environment.
In a more basic attempt to personify the table then, Mahon appeals to our senses (visual and auditory, as well as kinesthesia- the feeling of action).1 He speaks of the table wanting to "dance, / to scare your pants off." When we think of something with human qualities, we think of something that looks and acts in ways that are fundamentally human (like speaking, eating and in this case, dancing). Many poets will say, such as Wordsworth, that daffodils dance in the wind, or that the whining of an old door could be described as an old woman screeching. Rarely though does personification go beyond this. Mahon on the other hand appeals to our ability to think, feel, remember and experience situations. We relate to the pain that the writing table has suffered and the ideas that it has.
'Morning Radio' is different to 'Table Talk' in the way that the inanimate object in question is not suffering in the way that the writing table is, the radio is displaying more simple human traits, as we discussed before. The radio has a "fretwork throat," and through this he 'speaks' to those who will listen. The Radio is used by Mahon as medium for emitting beautiful music: "Woodwinds entering/ delicately," and reading the daily news. Arguably this poem is a 'simpler' example of Mahon's personification skills, the 'he's' in the poem could be a reference to the radio, and the fact that "he speaks" gives it a human quality.
I think that it is possible to view 'Morning Radio' as a simpler version of 'Table Talk,' but I think that there is a lot more to 'Morning Radio' than that. If we look at what Mahon talks about in this poem, the seven o'clock news, "that the world is coming to an end," and a "new day" beginning, we can begin to see a pattern. Mahon's Radio talks about the changing and new world (the news, sorrow and new beginnings); he is referring to different aspects of human life. So why does he do this I think that Mahon does this not just to create 'he'- the Radio, but rather he uses the Radio to make us question our lives. By mentioning the news and beautiful music, he is using the Radio to provoke a reaction out of us. The fact that he says "WE" in upper case, I believe is another tool that Mahon uses to make us see the Radio as a 'person' who speaks to us. In addition to this though the "WE" is inclusive and is addressed to us the reader.
Looking at the two poems then, what can we say about the effectiveness