What message is the poet trying to convey in his poem and how does he succeed in doing that?
In the poem The Cold Within the poet James Patrick Kinney has a strong message for the mankind. You may say: “Unity is strength” or even “Live and let live”. Regardless of how you express it, it’s all about the need to appreciate everyone and everything in this world with a larger heart. Only then we can live a happy and fruitful life.
The editors of ICSE Treasure Trove have summed it up very well: “The poem is a simple yet powerful reminder that if we selfishly hold on to the world’s resources, and the wealth that it has to offer, if we persist in discriminating on grounds of race, religion, caste, gender and ethnicity, we are all lost!”
To express his message well, the poet has used a simple symbolic story. In the poem, six persons gathered around a fire in a chill winter evening. Everyone had a piece of wood that could keep the fire burning to keep them warm. But none of them agreed to share their wood just because of their discrimination for others. Some had the racial hatred, some were prejudiced with financial and social classes and some merely narrow-minded and miserly. All of them had something common among them — human sin –as the poet says it. It was the “cold within” — the lack of warm human spirit in their heart — that brought their death in the end. It only teaches us to live together — to live and let live.
The message that the poet tries to give is that discriminatory attitude and hatred that humans have against one another on the basis of race, class, and religion is futile. It is self destructive.
In a simple yet powerful way, the poet has got his message safely across to us all — humans are born with a spirit which needs to be rekindled by helping out others to help themselves. In a world where prejudices are often common, we may not realise that by our ways of hoarding the world’s resources and being selfish enough to not share with other humans just based on the class distinctions and racial discrimination we have limited ourselves to pure foolishness. Failing to see the big picture we often undermine the power of kindness and the coldness in our hearts leads to futile self- destruction. The poet has explained this idea beautifully and thus his vision brings us a sense of understanding aiming to end our petty disputes.