In James Patrick Kinney’s poem The cold within, what does the poet mean by “They died from the cold within”? Or, Justify the title of the poem.
By the phrase “the cold within” the poet means the coldness of the hearts — the lack of warm human spirits of the six persons who gathered around the dying fire in that winter evening. Though all of them possessed a log of wood, none agreed to give it to the fire to keep it burning and keep them warm. This was because of the discriminatory attitude they had against each other over petty things like class, caste, colour, religious faith or ethnicity. In the end, they were found frozen to death with their logs held in their still hands. Therefore the poet commented that the death was not due to the cold outside, it was the cold within their hearts that killed them.
This is a great way to convey the message of harmony in the society and the way Kinney sums up the poem is amazing. The title of the poem, ‘The Cold Within’ is suggestive of the central theme or message of the poem and thus is just and apt.
They died because of the hatred they had amongst themselves, they wouldn’t have died if they helped each other and gave the fire a boost. They froze and died not because of the chilled weather outside but because of the cruelty they had for each other inside.
“The Cold Within” is a perfect poem which brings a result of racism and bigotry. The name is so appropriate which suggests the fatal act of human beings under the influence of the greatest evil of society ‘racism’. This poem is instrumental for us to understand the devastating effect of racism and feeling of hatred to each other on the basis of race, colour, creed. This feeling of mind is the true killer of six people who did not try to raise the fire to be alive but had to welcome death due to their mind set. So, it is clearly seen that they had to die due to the coldness of their minds but not for the chilling cold of outside.
This composition is an exemplary effort of the poet to root out this evil and to establish unity and brotherhood in the society.
Group of six humans were trapped by happenstance. They had every possible way to survive but bigotry, hatred, discrimination of their cold heart led them towards the death’s door. The poet referred to the lack of warmth as ‘ cold heart’ , so , he concluded ‘ They died from the cold within’.