Friday, February 22, 2013

Analysis of "The End of The World" by Archibald MacLeish

Original poem reprinted online here: "The End of The World" by Archibald MacLeish
Originally read: December 17, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Archibald MacLeish

I think previously, or many times before, I write about the adjective noun combination.  In creative writing classes told me to be careful of adjectives or adverbs.  And I followed those directions.  In my work for the past couple of years, you won't read adjectives or adverbs at all in my work and probably this blog post.  Yeah, I kind of take things too literally.

It hasn't been until recently that I started to analyze why.  On a personal level, why I listened to them without thought.  On a "poetry" (how hoity) level, I grew bored with how predictable my style is (image based narratives with an epiphanic ending that's still "mysterious" and up to the reader -- a little bit too formulaic).  

So I'm starting to notice how poems work on a construction level -- and the first thing I see in a poem is the adjective noun combinations.  Yesterday, I noted how phrases can create surrealistic images.

In "The End of the World" the are several that I think are interesting:

1) "Armless ambidextrian" -- the assonance brings a humorous quality to the poem (the first half of the sonnet is the "comedy" of a side show environment), furthermore, visually, it's like capable incompatibilities -- I feel like I'm there in this surreal world of the poem and the scene with this description.

2) "Waltz-time swinging Jocko" -- reading the sentence a couple of times, I'm not sure if this phrase is correct, but I like it.  There's a double sonic quality to this description.  First, the z sound meshing with the s sound, and then the idea of waltz and swing -- combination of two forms of visual dance -- but sonically I'm in a time frame -- like 1920's - 30's big band mix.

3)  Now after the turn of the poem (a literal death at the carnival) there's the phrase, "vast wings across the cancelled skies."  Now, I feel nothing can save the "vast wings" adjective noun combination.  I can't see anything more than just the literal because the metaphorical idea behind "vast wings" is rather boring to me (security or loss of security, flight or no flight) it's kind of like me reading "pregnant clouds" smh.

Anyway, "cancelled skies" is probably my favorite adjective noun combination in the poem because it's two different concept that work well in multiple meanings.  "Cancelled" having many connotations within the poem (end of the carnival, end of the world, end of the play, end of the <insert time here>."  And to pair up that notion with skies which has an exapansive uncontrollable quality to it -- then the concept of the unknown comes to a visual form.

It's something to think about.

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