Original poem reprinted online here: "In the Ear of Our Lord" by Brendan Constantine
Originally read: January 4, 2013
More information about the Poet: Brendan Constantine
I had a different experience of the poem just right now. And it's a like a "duh, I'm so stupid moment" for me. Yeah, sure there's stuff I write about the content of the poem, you can take a look at the pic and find what I think of meaning; however, today is the first time I really sat down and read the poem out loud -- slowly.
I, somewhat knowing my hymns and verses, and knowing some biblical verses, didn't pick up the way the poem sounds like a mash of various parts of the bible. Now I don't know everything of the bible, but I know some things.
The lines, "In the beginning was the whir / I thought you said & the whir / was good" When I read it out loud today I saw that the lines are a riff of the first lines of Genesis (or whatever translation of Genesis -- just googled the first thing I saw).
When I read this the first time I wrote, "Whir in this poem can be read as onomatopoeia; however, I put a hard sound to it, emphasis on the [r] -- maybe it's me projecting a disdain" Hmm...what did I mean there?
Anyway, the first part of the poem "I thought you said you love [...]you knew to love them" sonically mimics the prayer "Hail Mary" well I think. I've been saying both the prayer and the lines over again. I think it's pretty close. Content wise, well it's surreal -- the monk part that makes his way around the end is nice. Also the "you" (which I'm seeing a lot in my choices recently) represents someone specific rather than a broad audience to me since the "accusations" are too pointed, "you love / the coal train's horn" (I just realized that coal train sounds similar to Coltrane -- oh this poem still has wonders).
The latter half of the poem, after the whir part, mimics the "Our Father" Prayer. I also have been reading this out loud over and over again. And I think it sounds similar, or at least I'm making it sound similar.
I wrote down individual lines as good in this part "I could swear you said the time / was wow." Just thinking about the line, I thought it was so bold (multiple interpretations of the line based on the lack of punctuation -- an interruption, wow a euphemism or dysphemism of something else. I also liked how the music goes back especially "the harp" which, in itself has many different connotations (religious, "jazz").
So with this new interpretation of the poem, the last line (even though I liked it my first read) feels added on. Yeah there's multiple meanings in it, but it's not necessary in the poem and I had more fun reading the poems as prayers. The riffing comes off too strong at the end like "read me I'm important."
I want to end this post with this. I'm not writing that my interpretations are right, and I've stated many times that I misinterpret poems. Sometimes it takes time for me to see something so obvious (how to read the poem is in the title "In the Ear of Our Lord" I swear). I'm just trying to read a poem and figure it out why I chose it -- what drew me to it.