Oh No by Robert Creeley: Summary and Critical Analysis

If the speaker of this poem forgets his people and works for his own selfish ends he will get what he wants, that is 'a nice chair'. It is a symbol of power and wealth. There he will find many other persons who have done the selfish work and collected property for themselves. They will welcome him as a newcomer, with a smile. But to the poet, such a selfish place is like a hell and he refuges to go there, saying "Oh no!"

Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

The poem Oh No by Robert Creeley is rich in irony. The title helps to point out that between the speaker’s words and attitude lie deep differences. The final sitting place is clearly for the selfish. We realize, that while pretending to be sweet-talking us into a seat, the speaker is actually revealing the horror of a little hell. And the title is the poet’s reaction to it; “Oh no! not that!” The tone of the poem is ironic. It says one thing on the surface but its meaning is different in the deeper level. On the surface it talks about a place where there is a nice chair where friends welcome the newcomer.

But, in reality, it is expressing the horror of the little hell where there are only selfish persons. There is irony in the poem also. The title helps us to understand that there are deep differences between the speaker’s words and attitude. On the surface he seems to be talking about the nice chair, but in fact he is revealing the horror of a little hell. The title indicates that it is not a suitable place to sit in. A person who is easily cajoled will leave his right course and will secure a place for himself only. But he will find no love and respect there among his friends. Such a place is like a little hell which is terrible for a good person. So the title, which is the poet’s voice, says that the hell is not a good place for an unselfish person.

In the poem Oh no by Robert Creeley 'It' refers to the place where there is a nice chair for the selfish to sit in. These words are used not to show the physical movement of the speaker but his inclination toward selfishness. He changes his goals. He does not work for others, but for himself. He makes plans just keeping himself in mind. The metaphorical use of these words helps to express ironic tone. In the expression “They had smiles on their faces” “they” and “smiles” have been supposed to be two different things. It indicates that “similes” have been imposed on their faces form outside. In other words, their smile was artificial.

Cite this Page!

Shrestha, Roma. "Oh No by Robert Creeley: Summary and Critical Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 17 Nov. 2013, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/oh-no.html.

Related Topics

I Know a Man: Summary and Analysis

Robert Creeley: Biography