Thursday, March 7, 2013

Analysis of "No Art" by Ben Lerner

Original poem reprinted online here: "No Art" by Ben Lerner
Originally read: December 25, 2012

When I think of "towers" my mind automatically goes to 9/11.  It might be a habit.  Or perhaps that the image is so iconic that it might take a generation to shift the connotation.  There you go -- mind block out of the way.

So, oddly enough, I think the title is effective if you don't know or infer the allusion to "One Art."   It's difficult for me because "One Art" is one of my favorite poems of all time.  "I shan't have lied. It's evident  / the art of losing's not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster."  I almost was able to quote this from memory...someday. Anyway, the struggle to get over loss happens in the poem "No Art" as well, but not clearly.

If you read a poem through images, then this poem isn't for you or maybe it is.  The strong image is "tower" and the rest of the poem is more of a rumination of "piety in despair."  I do acknowledge the fact that there's a mention of leaves, but the image is used as simile to despair.

I wrote this halfway through the poem, "I don't know about the introduction of the 2nd point of view."  Well, yeah, and no.  I think Past Me was following the thoughts behind the speaker and wasn't quite prepared to have the point of view shift; however, the line "I know that I can call on you / until you're real enough / to turn from."  There's a lot of shifts of tone in these lines wanting the sentimental to disavowing the sentimental.  Most of the time "you" is used as a more call-and-response tone or the speaker referring to him/herself. 

Yet, I feel the usage of "you" poem is a little bit of both.  In the next stanza there's more of a reference to the speaker "I think of myself as having / people, a small people / in a failed state,"  So, technically speaking, the speaker is referring the different aspects of himself as people living in a failed state -- psychologically speaking this could refer to Freudian theory: id, ego, super ego, or Jungian: shadow, animus, anima.  ( I should really study contemproary psychological case studies).

Anyway, the the change to "people" shifts to the last stanza where the speaker doesn't feel alone but, "All my people are with me now / the way the light is."  I earnestly want to believe this is a very redemptive ending, and so I shall until proven otherwise.  Please do or don't.

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