Sunday, March 10, 2013

Analysis of "Outside Fargo, North Dakota" by James Wright

Original poem reprinted online here: "Outside Fargo, North Dakota" by James Wright
Originally read: December 29, 2012 (Am I missing a day? Too lazy to go back now) 
More information about the Poet: James Wright

So in my notes I write that this poem works on two levels -- Internal and Meta:

"Internal:  The next lines "'onely / and sick for home.' the images above feel[s] like a representation of internal strife: white horses, going into the shadows, a sprawled body derailed."

"Meta:  The poem turns from observational to internal -- nothing too surprising.  But the line 'I nod as I write good evening' is the only physical response of the speaker to anything -- and his physical response turns inward to the poem and the speaker."

Past me, I don't think you fully describe meta that well.  So the speaker of the poem writes about the creation of a poem.  And all the symbols and images lead to how a poem is created.  And I could see it in this poem -- the match, a representation of an idea; the play of white and shadow, a Jungian aesthetic; a physical call/a written response.

However, if this poem is meant to be read as meta -- well that's another story all together.

I didn't notice this on the first read or when writing my notes, but I picked up on this when reading this again: "I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly"  Now, on one hand, "slowly" is a waste of words.  Grammatically, isn't an adverb used twice here redundant?  Yeah, I guess so.  However, the focus is on every individual action.  Not an observation per se, but one action at a time in the first stanza.

I write this because I wonder to write individual tasks through adverb without being overly redundant.  I'll still wonder.

1 comment:

  1. I love this poem, Darrell. In fact, I have pondered its meaning more than once. I say it's about loneliness and isolation--two general terms that connote so much to the American mind. I love the turn at the end when it becomes clear the poet is not the man sitting in the boxcar but in fact the poet sitting alone in his room describing the aloneness of that hobo. There are cops (like Hamlet's night watchmen), who are alone, and the horses seem absolutely alone, too (a blues standard has three white horses follow the singer to his *fucking* grave). Light, grain, silo, boxcar...everything in relief. My take: it's an angry poem about the effects of hoarded wealth, i.e. Capitalism. A la Ezra Pound.