“I Can’t Help You” Poem Analysis 

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“I Can’t Help You”, is a poem written by, Ryszard Krynicki, one of the best post World War II Polish Poets as of today. Krynicki is a WWII survivor, he experienced the horrible effects of war and managed to live through tuff times since his parents were deployed to a Nazi labor camp when he was a young boy. He overcame those hard times and started writing wonderful pieces that are well known today. This poem, in particular, has touched different types of people, since it has a varied perspective of multiple subjects touching the reader’s heart.

The poem is extremely short, but it still has a deep meaning behind it. It only includes two lines and one stanza, giving the reader a more profound way of analyzing it. The author uses a metaphor throughout the whole poem to give out his point to the reader. Krynicki decides to use moths in his poem as a way of describing self-destruction in a moth’s life. Moths are extremely attracted to a bright light source, but the catch is that they get so close to the point where they die. When someone says like a moth to a flame, it means when a person goes towards something that will self destruct them even if they know it. Yang Wong explains how moths feel after going near a bright light or a flame “Once close to bright light, moths probably become blinded, disorientated or confused”. This disorientation causes them to not realize the pain they are going through and they just die in the process of it.

The act of self-destruction can be seen differently, but in a way, it displays a soldier’s life at the end of a war. After World war II, thousands of soldiers died fighting for their country without an option or a chance to go back. Ryszard Krynicki states in line one, “Poor moth, I can’t help you” showing sympathy for the “moth” or the person he is talking to. In this case, it could be the metaphor of a dying soldier in a battlefield, the only thing that can be done would be ending his life since there’s no hope or anything else to be done. When a soldier signs up to fight for their country at a war, they know the risks they are going to take and one of those includes dying. Just like the moth, they follow that “light” because it is something they feel like doing or they feel like it’s the right thing to do. Sadly, there’s not a lot to be done, “I can only turn out the light” (Ryszard line 2) The author has no power or control of the moth to self-destruction, he can only help him ending his misery.

The poem has an ironic twist at the end and Krynicki is portraying that in just two lines. When a person does something that will self destroy them, they know from the beginning how their situation might turn out and the odds of surviving like during World War II. This gives respect for those who gave out their life for a country and how appreciated people are for what they did. In a deep and hurtful truth, not everyone can make it back home and just like the moths they went on their path reaching the light they were seeking for, just like the soldiers seeking victory, but sometimes in order to get that there are sacrifices and like martyrs, they gave up their life for it.


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“I Can’t Help You” Poem Analysis . (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/i-cant-help-you-poem-analysis/

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