Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Analysis of "Audubon Ate His Birds" by Kristin Robertson

Original poem reprinted online here: "Audubon Ate His Birds" by Kristin Robertson
Originally read: January 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: Kristin Robertson






The first sentence, or rather the first six and a half lines in this couplet form, is pretty humorous because of the hyperbolic acts compared to how Audubon is imagined (an animal lover who drew pictures); however, upon further inspection what the speaker writes of is true, well technique wise anyway.


The speaker inserts the sense of humor through the first simile "feathers splayed like pick a card, / any card"  and  "he roasted and swallowed / the loves of his life."   What this sets up is a kind of authority behind the speaker.  The speaker doesn't hide his/her bias of a feeling of disbelief when stating the truth -- however, the speaker, no matter how hyperbolic it seems, is writing the "truth."


Then the shift in the narrative -- or rather the comparison to Audubon where the speaker brings up a serial killer (?) that started off at Golden Gallon.  I looked up the information but couldn't find it.  However, based on the presumptions of the poem, I'm pretty sure that the speaker could've brought up any serial killer event and it would've fit.


Why?  The poem, which is in couplets, focuses on the subject (Audubon or serial killer) relationship with the subject.  Yes, there might be "love" involved, but in order to reach that high, Audubon and/or the serial killer did a lot of twisted things to get there.  So, weirdly, the poem focuses on construction, perhaps a twisted ars poetica.

For example, in these lines,:

he tied her wrists together with his sweatshirt string
     when she skipped ahead and tried to run,

or the next one he locked in his basement, singing to her
     Percy Sledge, singing hold on to your

precious love.

The methods are shown and the product (or what the subject wants to attain) is love in both cases.  From this point on, the comparison turns to how children smother fireflies.  Past me wrote, "The simile here i well rendered and fits with the motif."  So past me is a bit general -- and looking at the poem in this perspective now -- it doesn't really fit -- also it's four lines that takes away from the poem.

The last eight lines focusing on the wife of Audubon is interesting.  Now that Audubon is related to a serial
killer in the name of love (in the context to the poem).  Of course, there's a lack of love between the first wife and Audubon (the mention of the "first" wife does sync that in)

However it's this line, "she imagined him / captured forever inside that barn."  Essentially, she's taken on the person of Audubon and wants her husband to be "captured forever" (like Audubon's paintings, like a serial killers desire) -- in a negative maybe realistic way.  The men (in context to the poem) need to capture the things they love.  A woman (in context to the poem) needs the men to understand that being captured is like being "any rabid bat, any frenzied sparrow."
 



Monday, April 29, 2013

Analysis of "In My Craft or Sullen Art" by Dylan Thomas

Original poem reprinted online here: "In My Craft or Sullen Art" by Dylan Thomas
Originally read: January 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dylan Thomas



After rereading this again and again, I think about the title.  I think the title cuts multiple ways, but these two ways stick out for me.  There could be a separation between "My Craft" or "Sullen Art"; or, there one could define the other, "My Craft" = "Sullen Art.  The poem could actually be read both ways since the first stanza and the last stanza address the same issue of art and readership, but in different perspectives.


In the first stanza, the speaker compares his/her night activities to those of "lovers"; however, the focus here is on the lovers and the line cuts from scene to contexts, "And the lovers lie abed / With all their griefs in their arms, I labour by singing light"  not that this is the longest line in the poem and sticks out pretty awkwardly; yet, this is the crux of the first stanza.


First, as a reader, the turn of the lovers is different but not entirely unexpected -- lovers do indeed fight. The contrast though is interesting -- why did the speaker have to insert him/herself into the line, so much so that it sticks out?  The speaker is "singing light"  which, probably, is a contrasting device to foil out the griefs which the speaker further details as:

Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

The list of what the intent of the light is tries sounds similar to vows as the speaker tries to exemplify and purify his/her work -- "My Craft."

The second stanza focuses more on the speakers downfall or desires past the pure.  The first two lines continues on the trend of why the speaker writes, but this line, "On these spindrift pages" focuses the reader to the physical -- not the philosophical ars poetical artifice.  It's like writing, "in reality" in a sense.  And if the focus is in the "real" then the speaker realizes his/her projection of lovers as one full of grief can be altered, "But for the lovers, their arms / Round the griefs of the ages,"

No matter how hard the speaker tries to step into the scene of the "lovers"  (another way to look at lovers is the circle jerk status quo) -- the speaker cannot bring his/her "purity" in -- or rather self.

The last two lines are not a question, but a statement, "Who [lovers] pay no praise or wages / Nor heed my craft or art."  So here the poem turns to "Sullen Art," but note the end combines the two ideas "craft or art" -- that given the choice lovers won't choose either or, and rather stick to themselves with their own griefs, their own loves.

Analysis of "Dispatch Detailing Rust" by Adrian C. Louis

Original poem reprinted online here: "Dispatch Detailing Rust" by Adrian C. Louis
Originally read: January 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: Adrian C. Louis







So this is the first poem that I'm analyzing for this blog which has both narrative and lyrical elements to the poem;  furthermore, the elements are so distinctly separate that I feel that there's a progression of intent for the reader and the speaker.

The first stanza is narrative where the speaker details the experience of seeing his "enemy's hand" and "gloated." So breakdown a little bit, the first half of this stanza has character development (speaker has an enemy and doesn't think him/herself old until as old) -- however, within the first few lines  the speaker identifies himself as a visual speaker and how attention oriented he/she is to the point that near the end of the first stanza the speaker realizes his/her own hands are just like his/her enemy -- or rather the enemy now.  Hands being a synecdoche to age.

What is built up in the first stanza -- character, a bias actually. towards the visual as a representation for age -- actually visual imagery.  So in the the second stanza the poem goes towards a lamenting lyrical slant.  The speaker is equivocal about  his/her situation with the opening words of "Sometimes now" which also centers the poem in the present.  The poem's images become more surreal and general, "these hands of mine stroke / a steel blue dream that / will instantly inhabit rust."

Past me writes, "the metaphor has good sound and image to it.  Does refer to aging again so it's a little redundant."  Well, the reference to aging is the crux of the poem, however, the representation to age changes to rust.

Past me continues to critique about the redundancy of age; however, I see something different now.  No matter what the style -- narrative or lyric -- or what type of image -- hands or dust (which transform into bluebirds and sky) -- there's always a mention of age.  Now it could be that the poet wants the last images -- bluebirds and sky to adopt the symbol or age.  Or rather, that no matter what is changed in the poem, the theme or age will be constantly the same.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Analysis of "Farm Scenes" by Robert Bly

Original poem reprinted online here: "Farm Scenes" by Robert Bly
Originally read: January 28, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Robert Bly



 I never wrote about sequence poems versus stanza break poems.  I believe that sequence poems take the white space as semi-colons.  That each piece, no matter how separate the content may be, are connected to each other somehow or someway; meanwhile, stanza break poems could shift topics and correlate to the stanza before or branch off into something entirely different.  Of course, I may be wrong with my assumptions.

So for Bly, I remember most of the work had a Jungian influence (Deep Imagism), so the most important parts to look out for is the usage of light and darkness (or how one turns to the shadow [or the Orpheus complex]).  Anyway, away from the jarganism.

In the first stanza, there's a specific visual scenery of "Everything is white."  That all the connotations of the color is there, but it's butted up against the. "dark lumps of hay," which is pushed away.  So, visually, there's a focus on a speck of something there that is trying to be pushed away.

In the second stanza, there is the introduction of the speaker and another with "we."  Who the speaker is talking to is not mentioned in the poem.  However, my guess is to the other side of the speaker, the "dark lumps of hay" pushed away.

Note the importance of time here.  It's midnight when everything is dark.  And so the simile in the poem makes sense in a visual way that the lamp is the only source of light in the darkness, but this image is layered with the fact that the light is illuminating over darkened snow which is only darkened because the lack of light.  Yeah, the previous stanza doesn't make sense.  So the best way I could describe this is as a photo negative.

Well, I wrote this down for the poem, "not really a simile about the scene, but a reference to the self, or both"  -- the image cuts a lot of different ways.

In the third stanza, there's talk again about the shadow overtaking the domestic; furthermore, the horse that pushed away the dark lumps of hay has "one or two / strands of hay hang from the horse's jaw."  Past me wrote, "The horse has eaten the last of the 'dark lumps of hay.'  This feels like the start of something -- an intake of loneliness -- things to come."  What I see now is acceptance out of necessity.  The horse had to accept the dark hay due to hunger.  The speaker has to accept his loneliness because he has to.  Why he has to?  I'm not to sure.  Maybe it's nature.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Analysis of "Shanidar, Now Iraq" by Sarah Lindsay

Original poem reprinted online here: "Shanidar, Now Iraq" by Sarah Lindsay
Originally read: January 28, 2013
 More information about the Poet: Sarah Lindsay





When I reread this poem, I thought the images were odd, but felt strong which offsets the burdening of heavy baggage words. "Tower" has become one of those words.  And, I feel for a very long time, "Iraq" is one of those words as well -- at least in the context to American politics and literature.  Yes, America did invade Iraq, twice. And like all wars, there are always people that want to do something about the situation.  However, the title, "Shanidar, Now Iraq" has brought in a historical context.

Ah, now I see.

Anyway, I'll get to that in a bit.  In the first stanza I wrote, "The surreal opening line sets up a surreal tone, duh, right, but it's not over the top surreal -- anthropomorphizing bones and flesh."  And so the first paragraph goes about  bones.

Then the second paragraph shifts time and intent which adds to the surreal in the poem, "someone or all of them laid or threw on the grandfather's chest" (emphasis mine).   The speaker of the poem is trying to decipher the intent of "the oldest rules we mostly follow."  Note how different the verbs "laid" and "threw" connote -- a individual/group caring/not caring about the dead.

In stanza three, there's a really hard point, "Now we have everlasting bouquets of plastic / now we have hundreds a day to bag and box and pickle / to re-cross the Atlantic."  Past me wrote, "There is a certain speed and anger in this part."  But current me realizes this:

What if the poem is playing with the shifts in time and context?  What if the line "now we have hundreds a day to bag and box and pickle / to re-cross the Atlantic" could be talking about the war. 

The images serve a duality then for past and current.  So even though I thought the above (first read) images referred to an archeological dig -- trying to understand history.   Maybe the poem is trying to understand the dead from the war -- trying to understand the now.  Or both.  The lines I quoted above certainly over-tip the sentiment.

The last stanza does something I haven't seen in a while -- play with smell images through the same image -- for this instance "smoke":

Regrettably, something of the smell
is of bodies suddenly buried in fallen stones.
But some incense, pinches of pulverized Baghdad rising
in ceremonial smoke:

This line carries a lot of technique: shifting smell images, allusions, and alliteration.  I feel the list at the end to define the smoke is a bit too much to summarize the techniques used, but I could see why -- the list is like an exclamation mark that everything is connected and, me as a reader, should know this.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Analysis of "A Little Shiver" by Barton Sutter

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Little Shiver" by Barton Sutter
Originally read: January 27, 2013
More information about the Poet: Barton Sutter






When reading this poem again, I thought to myself that this was something I would see in a Norman Rockwell painting -- something so light-hearted and domestic that  I have a hard time being cynical about the poem.  The poem starts out with the "bad tidings" being snow.

And here's the aftermath of such an event:
1) Children abandoned their homework (then a light-hearted jab at hypotenuse).
2) Snowplow driver getting ready for work.
3) An couple resolves their "barking at each other" and decide to "go to bed"
4) Dog, in the snow, puts tail over snow.

Surely, there are things missing in the poem (if I look at this as a narrative) more centered around the couple who "barked at each other"; however, I fill in the blanks with connotation.  Something as innocuous as quilts diffuses my cynicism.

And this is where I think the poem keeps with the tone very well, this homely, domestic, warm tone.  The words being used in the poem don't have another layer to them.  What I mean is there are lead in words that bring in something different to the poem.

For example, "The old couple, who'd barked at each other" (emphasis mine).  If the poem changes barked to argue, fight, or something a bit more darker, then I would look at this poem down another layer -- and lok at words like "abandoned" (line 5) in another dimension.  Yet, those connotations, at least for me are not there.

What is there for me is a strong images that are upfront and cute.  The last four lines

And the aging husky they failed to hear
Scratch the back door, turned around twice
In the yard, settled herself in the snow,
And covered her nose with her tail

Past me wrote this:

-The scenes were like in a movie: so instead of looking deeply into the images -- I'll take the scenes face value

or

-There might be something hidden in the images or construction, but the poem is light-hearted enough to   not be too sweet, and no deep enough (in language and scene) to say there's a deeper meaning in snow.

    -The title adds to the light-hearted notion.

And I don't think any differently now.  However, I'm a bit saddened by the way I think.  I see this poem as artificial and unreal in a sense -- that I can't believe the scenes in the poem; yet, I want the scenes to exist outside the poem and maybe this type of thinking is really looking at the poem.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Analysis of "Follower" by Seamus Heaney

Original poem reprinted online here: "Follower" by Seamus Heaney
Originally read: January 26, 2013
More information about the Poet: Seamus Heaney





So the poem is in rhymed quatrains that works sort of like a question and answer poem.  The first three  stanza sets up a certain question and the last three stanzas answer the question.

The first three stanzas define the "Follower" as the father.  A person who, for generations probably, worked the field.  The single statement of "An expert" actually made me see the poem in a different way when I reread this today.  Past me wrote, "The fragment sets up a distinct definition, and the following sentences -- discussing of technique with no description shows expertise."  Maybe I'm not looking at the poem at this angle at this time.

Currently, I'm thinking how to be an expert at something, and placement.  For a horse-plough there's the horse, who is in front, and the person who is in "control," in the back.  To be an expert, the person in in charge has to understand how to handle the horse which he/she is following behind to make sure; conversely, the horse has to follow the orders of the handler to the best of it's abilities.  And within the last stanza, the speaker shows how observant the father is about his situation, area, and duty.

So there's basically the conundrum set up:  what does it mean to be a good follower and who is the follower?  What does it mean to be a good leader and who is the leader?  What does it mean to be a "sweating team" or just a team?

The introduction of the "I" comes in -- somewhat bumbling, but switches the roles continuously, "sometimes he rode me on his back."  I wrote, "the construction is a bit awkward here.  Father/son, shouldn't it be son/father here?"

Past me points out something that I'm trying to elaborate here -- in the last three stanzas, I feel the speaker is trying to define roles through the passage of time.  When the speaker was younger he was the follower but unconsciously aware of place, in the fifth stanza the speaker decides he wants to be a follower and mimics the motions of "an expert" (note: not "the") and in doing so, fails in being a shadow, but succeeds on being more self aware ("I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, / Yapping always") the speaker notes this about himself and gains a feeling of remorse perhaps.

The last two lines are in a different tone, I feel, than the rest of the poem, "It is my father who keeps stumbling / Behind me, and will not go away."  In two lines, the speaker takes the position of the one in charge (the horse in a sense), and the father, like a failed ghost, stumbles (note: not exactly haunt) behind the speaker.

I wrote this down for the last stanza, "The end is predictable: father and son poem.  Even the rhyme scheme over accentuates a separation (but a lingering closeness).  I would've wanted this poem to be a bit longer.  I enjoyed the first three stanzas (technique and content) than the last three."

So I disagree with the past me critique somewhat.  After the third stanza with the introduction of the I, yes, the poem becomes a typical father/son regret poem which is punctuated with regret in the last two lines.  However, I think I can read this as a meta-poetic piece about what it means to be an expert and/or a follower -- or delve deeper into the relationship between father and son through the lens of expert and follower (which is pretty scientific terms).  In any case, there's more to the poem that I see now.  And probably won't be able to decipher until more time passes.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Analysis of "The Universal Prayer" by Alexander Pope

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The Universal Prayer" by Alexander Pope
Originally read: January 26, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Alexander Pope







The poem is constructed in quatrains with alternating rhyme scheme (abab).  I wrote that first because I don't know what I should write about this one.  Yes, I did choose this poem, and I think I chose it because of the inconsistencies or, maybe, humor in the poem.


The last line in the first stanza, "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!"  shows a sense of desperation or rather overstatement (over-dramatization) of need.  From here on out, I get a sense of sarcasm from the poem.  In stanza two, "To know but this -- that thou art good, / And that myself am blind: / Yet gave me, in this dark estate to see the good from ill"  Within four lines there's a quandry.  An omnipotent being is good, but made me blind, but in my blindness, inflicted by a good omnipotent being, I am able to see the good in things because of the good omnipotent being.  Yeah, kind of confusing.


Yet this line solidifies the sense of sarcasm for me, "This, teach me more than Hell to shun, / That, more than Heaven pursue."  Past me wrote, "I find this to be interesting -- if human beings have free will, then teach this person, the speaker, life is more than praise (Heaven) or punishment (Hell)."  I guess I sidestep the obvious religious debate here.  What is there more than wanting to go to Heaven in a prayer?  Isn't Heaven the end result.  So there's a question being asked instead of statement -- what is there to pursue more than Heaven?

So here's a list of what this omnipotent being is to impart on the speaker:

1) If the speaker is right, let the speaker have grace.
2) If the speaker is wrong, teach the speaker a better way.
3) Not to have foolish pride.
3) Not to be discontent with religious pursuits.
4) Feel another's pain
5) Hide the speakers faults
6) Show mercy onto others and mercy is shown upon the speaker.


That's a mighty list for one omnipotent being to do.  At this point, the poem is not what the being can do for the speaker; rather, what the speaker wants to gain from the being -- control of self.  But isn't control of the self, well, up to the self?


And the speaker has the self-awareness of his/her faults, "Mean though I am" the speaker blames, I mean, trust, the being to show him/her a better way.


The last stanza interests me.  Yes, Nature can be looked upon as another name for a higher being, but there's a pun in there.  Nature as in being, but also, Nature as in self (human nature).  Thus, perhaps, the speaker is talking about him/herself as a higher being with the ability to change.  Universal doesn't always mean out there, but in here as well.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Analysis of "Landscape After Years With Yourself, West Texas" by Shamala Gallagher

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Landscape After Years With Yourself," West Texas by Shamala Gallagher
Originally read: January 25, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Shamala Gallagher, and Youtube video






This poem to me is reminiscent of Gertrude Stein's style of repetition; however, I wouldn't put this poem squarely in the branch off of Gertrude Stein -- L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry.   When I think of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry I think of early Lyn Hejinian and Charles Bernstein whose works tried to deconstruct the purpose and limits of language.  Of course, when times change so does meaning and poets.

Why do I bring up L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry in the first place.  Well, I feel this poem is in conversation with the past ethos of the style.  Well now I do actually.

Past me looked at how the language is used in the poem what words were used and how the word was used.  For example, "heat" in the poem comes up six times in the poem -- four times "heat" is an adjective that describes the day, two times "heat" is a noun that describes a scene.

I go further on in this style throughout the poem; however, rereading this poem again, I cannot discount the "meaning" of this poem.  Maybe that's a bad way to describe this...how about the direction.

The first thing I thought of after rereading this poem was the title, "Landscape after Years with Yourself, West Texas," that, from the speakers point of view, there's desolation in the same area.  Or if this is an Ars Poetica based on  L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry then it's hard to separate the content and the construction in the poem (well at least for me) when "want" is used in the poem.

The connotation between "want" and "heat" play too vital of a role.  More so than the introduction of "cross" in the poem because already, with the title and the word play, I'm imagining a scene more than seeing the language the second time around.

And the scene is this -- left within the style/self for years without adaptation is basically a non-moving landscape portrait.  Sure, people will see the novelty of a portrait, and maybe popularize and worship a portrait -- but a portrait (more or less) is a time capsule -- the self is not.

I see the language trying to push away or me as a reader resisting the language.  And the last line of the poem, "wilting cross, the heat keeps on" was meaningless to me the first time (more interesting in the usage of language) but the second time the repetition of the "heat" and how it's used shows me a stagnation that continues.

Analysis of "Q" by Michael McFee

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Q" by Michael McFee
Originally read: January 24, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Michael McFee


Before I start, I ran into a pretty thorough daily critique/analysis poetry blog called The Poetry Daily Critique.  The analysis of poems are far better than mine for looking at the poem through theme, technique, and mode.

What do I have over this blog?  Uh, I try to do this daily -- meaning I make a lot of mistakes.  Anyway, the first blog post on The Poetry Daily Critique was for this poem.  The blogger, in the post, defines probably his/her aesthetic/lens he/she views the poems.  It's pretty good and thorough.
 
But from here on out I'll be focusing on what I think   Yeah, probably not as thorough.  So this poem is quiet comical as it points out the different variations of how to look at the letter "Q."  From the beginning to end, I feel this poem has a sense of whimsy, but doesn't cross the line into pretentious.

So pretentious vs. whimsy discussion.  I'll write down what I wrote in my notes:

"From this area I looked for:

a) how crazy and creative 'Q' can be described.
- tongue from mouth
- mustache
- handle
- monocle
- final flourish of quill

b) the limit where I thougt the cleverness was too much.  I didn't feel that way at all with this poem."

And current me agrees.  I get this feeling because the speaker is joking and having fun with the subject, and is projecting that feeling through the description.

I kind of figured out my definition of pretentious in poetry.  It's when the speaking is joking  and having fun at the expense of the subject or reader.  For example, superiority through language is a big line for current poets.  There's a point where I feel the complexity of language is used as a stratifying device to divide the "know" and "not know" to instill a sense of superiority; however, the poem comes off as Napoleonic and trite which diffuses sense and purpose in a poem.

Yeah, I know how to use language sometimes (not very effectively).    I wish the list was longer, but not crazier if that makes sense.  The whole stream-of-consciousness appeal is here, but I respect that he speaker keeps the subject  to body and language.

Analysis of "Two Bourbons Past the Funeral" by Andrew Hudgins

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Two Bourbons Past the Funeral" by Andrew Hudgins
Originally read: January 24, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Andrew Hudgins



In the beginning of the poem, I noted the "we."  The speaker and another person are "enjoying" a bourbon after a funeral.  I didn't note this from the first read -- the word "old" is repeated and mentioned four times in the poem, "old books of the old poet, past old now, and another old poet fumbled / to his favorite poem."

Now, whatever the case, past me found the first line funny, "I find this funny in a relatable [six] way -- the focus is not on who died, but what to do after -- drink perhaps."  The humor is further compounded with the repetition of old and the speaker and the old man fumbling to find the right poem.

The turn in the poem happens in the first simile, "his voice reverent / and sure, until he caught on a word / like a coat on a barb."  I'm not too sure on the suage of the simile here -- maybe it's to reference something familiar -- or maybe it's a subtle and domestic way to produce a feeling of  being stuck.   The more and more I think about the simile, the more it fits the change.




The old poet who continues to read the poem starts to "moan" on the long vowels -- there's a discrepancy between what is being read,what the speaker is observing, the poem, and the moment because nostalgia kicks in for the old poet, "the friend he knew almost entirely / from these words and his own voice / reading them."




And it's not happy nostalgia in a sense -- it's only knowing an individual through words and the "epiphany" here (I wonder if all elegiac poems have to have epiphanies) is perhaps regret / perhaps understanding.  Regret for not knowing the dead poet personally or understanding that a poet can only be understood by his/her works.


In any case the flow of the poem is disrupted by dialogue whcihc is very ambigious.  "I told you not to do that" Is this the voice of the speaker or the old poet? because the dialogue ends, "Yes, you did,"   I do feel it's better if the speaker leaves the poem and the old poet talks to himself about not trying to go too deep in the poem, but ignoring his instinct.


Does the poem turn a bit tragic at the end.  Perhaps. The old poet projects his voice, tone, style to the dead poet in hopes of "correcting the fictions and false/ felicities of his youth"  The ambiguous pronoun of "his" could refer to the old poet or dead poet.

I write perhaps because the poem doesn't end as elegiac as it could be.  Trying to understand something versus lamenting over something.  The old poet is thinking, until the end, like a poet mourning.  A poet mourning always grieves through writing.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Analysis of "What Work Is" by Philip Levine

Original poem reprinted online here:   "What Work Is" by Philip Levine
Originally read:Years and Years ago
Originally Printed for this Blog Project: January 23, 2013
More information about the Poet: Philip Levine




So this is one of those poems where I couldn't pass up on when it came up in one of the daily poem places.  I read this poem years ago, and it's one of my favorite poems.  I wrote down notes here, but what I always remembered about the poem is the tone.  The tone shifts from exasperated from angry.


However, when I reread this poem for this blog, I wondered where the direction of the exasperation and anger went to.


So I write down for the poem, "The tone of these line brought me in, Automatically prophetic and stating --> or trying to bring the reader in."  These are the lines, "if you're / old enough to read this you know what / work is, although you may not do it."  Current me believes that the first lines solidify the "you" as the speaker.  Yes, although I would like it to be me (I believe the speaker of the poem).  It would fit the idea if the "you" referred to the speaker.


Why?  The poem snowballs off projections.The projections of the person hiring, "a man is waiting who will say, 'No, / we're not hiring today,'" and of the brother as well, "How long has it been sine you told him / you loved him,"  So where is the speaker curently.


In line, waiting, with his thoughts.  It is stated with the first line, "We stand in the rain."  And in the rain, and feeling helpless the speaker goes through a whole lot of emotion through projections instead of reality.  


I write this for the end of the poem, "The last line is powerful because it bends in multiple ways.  The line refers back to the beginning ideas of work definition changes through projection and realization."


This is to say, the poem is based in the mind, but the images are so vivid that we the reader wants them to be real to do something about the brother, about not having a job -- but in reality, we, or the speaker, cannot.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Analysis of "Tattoo Theory" by Ada Limón

Original poem reprinted online here:   "Tattoo Theory" by Ada Limón
Originally read: January 22, 2013
More information about the Poet: Ada Limón





The beginning of this poem starts off as a narrative, but then there's an insert of humor in this line, "for some reason, in Spanish.  So it [the map] reads Montes Apalaches."   Then I wondered why I thought this is humorous.  Of course, the shift in language from one to another is interesting (Ezra Pound, Cantos), but doesn't  mean it's humorous

It's the switch in expectations.  On one hand, I as expecting a map in English, but I got one in Spanish -- how should I react.  I think this idea is the crux of the poem.

The shapes of Nebraska looking like animal -- humorous, but a switch.  The poem switches from the focus on language to visuals kind of confusing the humor -- or is it merging it, I'm not too sure.

"Nebraska! Nebraska Forever! Yeah" starts a sped up sequence (confusing or adding to the humor) where I wrote: "The speed of these lines:  there's a sense of bravado and pride, of tonal shift"

So the bravado and humor go hand in hand.  Yet, current me feels the tone shift occur at the rhetorical questions especially this line "What if I stop remembering"  this is where things get hazy.  What is there to remember?  The place that is a loved disfigurement?  The humor of mixing images and words and language?  What exactly.

"What if here's where I want to keep it"  There's the volta -- that even though the poem shifts in language and humor the speaker wants to keep it up; however, this is impossible to do, but "here's my unstoppable ink."  Not unstoppable ink -- what terms?  The speakers will to keep things the same or the the speakers fear that even comedy has to be serious someday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Analysis for "Hospital for the Ear & Neck" by Shanna Compton

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Hospital for the Ear & Neck" by Shanna Compton
Originally read: January 21, 2013
More information about the Poet: Shanna Compton

With this poem, I listen for the sound of the poem (which I get from the title).  And here's something that past me mentioned in stanza 2, "This is a mouthful"  However, when I read the line, "cluster flocklike" out loud today, I mixed two words together.  And I think this poem does a lot of play with sound.

In stanza one there's "tones" and "tune."  In stanza three there is "knobs" and "notes."  In stanza four there is "grass" and "groups."  These words sound similar when read out loud; however, when I read them over and over again, I understand them as separate entities.

Yet, still the poem plays with sound in a different way, anaphora.  In stanza five, the repetition of "we are" brings in a group feel; however, I wonder who the "we" is referring to -- the speaker and ?? From the way the poem is structured,  I read the we as the speaker and the speaker.  The person who is writing the poem and the person who is reading the poem.

I wrote this down in my notes for that stanza, "1) moved - emotionally 2) moved - physically"   So past me saw a duality in language instead of sound.  So, note wise,  what I wrote on the page refers to me reading in my head.  What I'm writing here refers to listening to the poem.

I think the last stanza I had the most trouble thinking of when I read it out loud (and on the page if you see my notes).  When I read it out loud I punctuated the (r's) in the poem (our -- punny) which drives in the inclusion of the we, and that metaphors only work if there's a collective basis to understand the comparison.

So I'm looking at the poem (after listening to it) as a poem based in deconstruction -- that there's multiple meanings in the language both what's on the page and listened to.  And when I try to find a meaning behind either or, the poem rejects it and states -- look what on the page or listen again.  The poem is clever.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Analysis of "A Fable" by Louise Glück

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Fable" by Louise Glück
Originally read: January 20, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Louise Glück

After rereading this poem, I remember how I try (with every blog post) to separate Poetry and Prose.  Now I think I've argued why certain poems should be prose; however, not the reverse, some prose should be in poetry form.  I wonder why.

In any case, this is a poem that I think would be better off as a flash fiction piece.  All the qualities are there for a flash fiction piece: short, plot, character development.  I look at the form and the line breaks and wonder what is gained by them.

For example, "Two women with"  ending with "with."   I remember back that writer's shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.  I never fully understood the reason why.  However, in this poem, I have a reason why.  Ending with a preposition forces to reader to go to the next line or sentence as though the speaker has withheld something -- a piece of information or ideas.  I feel that once it's cool, but twice within three line -- it's a little much.  I know this is very nitpicky, but, I notice, now and past me, these things because the lines are shorter and there's more attention to every single word.

The flow of the poem is stilted through the short lines; however, if they had a better flow, the plot could be the focus instead of the language.  Yes, it could be that the writer wanted the short lines in order to disrupt preexisting thoughts about Solomon's predicament with the focus on women. But the short lines really detract from this for me (something I didn't notice before when I read).

Two-Thirds in to the poem, there is didactic moment when the speaker intrudes to insert a meaning, "this was / the sign, the lesson."

I feel that the bottom one-third of the poem has really good insight and would be good in a short story (akin how "The Grasshopper and the Bell-Cricket" by Yasunari Kawabata work.  The "lesson learned" isn't from the speaker; rather a parallel story at the end where either a) both insights work or b) even though they are similar stories, the insight doesn't work with both.

Then there's a vague sense of parallelism and perpendicularism all at once  as both personal and fable overlay each other.  Yet, the bottom 1/3 is too short and too on the nose, "what could you do / to save her but be / willing to destroy / yourself"  Strong sentiment. but perhaps overly sentimental (to me), if the thoughts were drawn out a bit more, perhaps.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Analysis of "No-Motion Replay" by Dobby Gibson

Original poem reprinted online here: "No-Motion Replay" by Dobby Gibson
Originally read: January 19, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Dobby Gibson

Past me wrote this at the first stanza, "seems like a better end stanza."  However, the poem is cyclical in it's imagery.  And I think that I knew why I wrote that about the first stanza.  I felt this line, "it's no accident if it has a cause" is such a great strong line.  However, the line is for the first stanza is to critique or amend the thoughts and connotations of the last stanza.

But then in the second stanza shifts dramatically.  The speaker addresses a "you" the images changes from something nature like to a more religious imagery intertwined with stacking metaphors of prison and money.
and the last three lines pose a rhetorical question:

     Between never and soon
     you found a place you can trust,
     sacrificing something, but what?

So at this point I feel the "you" is directed to the speaker since the incidents and thoughts are too specific but strangely broad because the ideas are defined through a back and forth between a strong image versus a strong comparison.  Yet, at this point of the poem, the poem brings in two big ideas to questions -- what is perceived as chaos might have a cause and therefore not an accident. and where and what does one sacrifice to find a place one can trust in a shifting chaos.

Those are the questions in the poem then the bottom half of the poem "answers" the rhetorical question posed in regular form(ab, ab), but the images and the rhetoric in the poem.  In the third stanza the focus is in the first line, "Once there were pleasure you felt / you were pointed toward" -- ("pleasure" something positive if one can define an accident [serendipity] and see a cause in it).

Then the last lines focus on age but "answers" the second question, "your memory undependable but long enough / to send you home still growing older, still dry"  Indeed, the "safe place" is in the mind but it's also a sacrifice at the same time -- the safety of the mind in a chaotic world leads one to be "dry" or rather too safe.  It's a "No-Motion Replay" physically to live in the mind where "pleasure" and "purpose" can be continued to be remembered; but in physically the dreamer is "dry" in the negative connotation -- unfruitful but safe in the stagnation.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Analysis of "Child" by Sylvia Plath

Original poem reprinted online here: "Child" by Sylvia Plath
Originally read: January 18, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sylvia Plath






This poem is unlike any poems I know of Sylvia Plath. Daddy, Blackberrying, Ariel tend to have a dark (sometimes hyperbolic) overtone filled with personal emotion (Daddy), dark situations (Blackberrying), and/or viscera (Ariel).  All these aspects in her poems, I won't necessarily say resonate, but rather defines her work for me in my mind -- kind of an association (Sylvia Plath = list above).

When I came across this poem in my daily reads, I thought hmm interesting -- I'm pretty sure Sylvia will fall back on one of those three techniques.

The beginning of the poem starts out so innocent, maybe a little overboard from both the perspective of the speaker and the subject:, "Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing."  Noticing the line after rereading this, there's something awkward with the construction -- the usage "the" -- that the speaker specifically focuses on the eye of the subject. The speaker then proceeds to project objects of "color" and "ducks" into the subjects vision.

I remember making a mistake in printing out a poem where there was an added word when there shouldn't be.  I made sure this time and double checked the line break to stanza break after "new" and once again the construction of "The zoo of the new" comes off a bit awkward however, the awkwardness goes brings a sense of innocent but off (not flat out crazy or hyperbole).  There's something in the language which is held back as if the speaker is holding back.

Further in the poem, the speaker projects names that the child is thinking of -- or rather wants the child to think; however, the verb "meditate" is, again, another one of those offbeat words that fit, but not quite.  The line break to stanza break at "Little / Stalk" changes the adj/noun combination format in stanza two to something more in depth -- more of a description on how  the name should be, "grand and classical."  The speaker is furthering him/herself into the what the child should see, feel, think, and anlalyze.

Past me wrote this for the last stanza:

"The last stanza is the hard turn now that judgement is introduced.  The speaker... [I don't know what I wanted to do with this]. The last image is a nice rendition of maybe a lack of imagination -- or  worry or a not so great mindset."

Fear, how about that?  How about if the speaker recognizes what he or she is trying to do -- or worse, project that the child will become the speaker and the  "dark" mentioned in the second line of the last stanza is explicitly placed so the focus i there; however, the speaker wants to keep going with the tercets or maybe the speaker has to.

The last line then becomes devastating if you see it from a parent perspective, "Ceiling without a star." More of without a light, or star could refer to the speaker meaning (however, no mention of light refers back to the speaker).   It's the idea of putting everything into a child -- energy, hope, wishes, innocence, and then, suddenly, the child, no matter how hard the speaker tries, gravitates to a darkness (baggage perhaps) that is too overwhelming.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Analysis of "A Coat" by William Butler Yeats

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Coat" by William Butler Yeats
Originally read: January 18, 2013
More information about the Poet:  William Butler Yeats


I don't know what form this is.  There is a rhyme scheme, but it's not as consistent or follows a specific pattern.  Maybe since there is a certain foolishness with the poem in multiple levels, so the rhyme is offbeat -- depicts "humor."

And this poem is humorous, especially when looking at the end lines, "For there's more enterprise / In walking naked."  There's a sense of defiance here that doesn't seem completely serious; however, in spite of the rhyme scheme and the ending, I feel the crux of the poem is the creation of the coat in the first four lines.

     I made my song a coat
     Covered with embroderies
     Out of old mythologies
     From heel to throat

There's the concept of exposing oneself versus exposing one's art.  And, at least for me seeing this poem as meta-poetics, sees these lines as a poet.  That the construction of a coat is comprised of well known poetic techniques: song (rhythm and rhyme), embroideries (following a form, iambics, dactyl perhaps), and mythologies (allusions).  Yet it's a coat that covers "heel to throat"  there should be no instance of the poet in the poem.

The next four lines talks about the "fools" that "caught it."  Past me wrote this distinction, "'fools caught it' stolen or caught on?"  Meaning, did fools try to copy the speakers coat style, or did the steal it and make it better.  In either case, the speaker isn't very pleased with the people, or the world.

So at the end of the poem, the last lines I quoted in the beginning, is the exposing of the self as the subject -- that there's more possibilities in looking at oneself and exposing oneself in poetry than in tried and (maybe doggerel) construction.

But, perhaps, the humor undercuts this concept -- and maybe this is just a poem about giving the middle finger to idiots. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Analysis of "I Write You This on a Train Named for an Endangered Bird" by Kyle McCord

Original poem reprinted online here:  "I Write You This on a Train Named for an Endangered Bird" by Kyle McCord
Originally read: January 17, 2013
More information about the Poet: Kyle McCord







After rereading this, I'm trying to figure out what the name of the endangered bird is.  The funny thing is is that the name of the bird is not important -- rather it's the loose end that's not answered in the poem.


However, the whole question/answer, call/response idea doesn't come into effect until after the poem is done.  When I first read this poem, I felt this poem was only a stream-of-consciousness poem where the focus was entirely the directions the ideas were going.  For example, "like pitting your protagonist against an all-knowing, all-seeing jaguar spirit." which I past me thought was funny.


Now I realize that this poem deals with duality not only  scene wise, but within the language itself.  Note how there's a separation between the first sentence and the simile.  How story's can't begin and the contrast.  The similes start to meld with each scene abstraction like immortality.

Then the poem brings in only middle of a stories for each sentence:  Unemployed brother-in-law, Jeremy A getting a blow job, a religious reference "bread on tongue."  What's "missing" here is exposition to create context for these separate stories; therefore, it's hard to see them connected at all and just jumps in the stream-of-consciousnes.

But the poem turns meta with this rhetorical question, "Why should it mean less?"  "It" being an ambiguous noun could mean the scenes, the poem, or the speaker's direct experience before this line.  In any case, the speaker ties up some loose ends -- "what happens next" or at least tries to. A reconnection between Jeremy A and the girl.

Then the speaker stops.  This line is a strong kind of summary line, "What doe you want from any of us, reader? Elegy? Epiphany?"  It's as if the speaker knew the direction he was going and wanted to stop there.  I like the last line even though it's a bit aggro toward the "reader" (perhaps self as well -- but the speaker mostly addresses the reader).

The last line of the poem -- connecting back to Hamlet, is a waste for me.  Past me don't write anything about the last line.  It's just for me that there's a wink and a nudge within the last line referring back to Hamlet like writers have no choice but to try to connect aspects of a line together so the reader can get something out of the poem.  It's a smart line that hinges on the sentimental, get's away with the sentimental but comes off overly smart.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Analysis of "His Elderly Father as a Young Man" by Leo Dangel

Original poem reprinted online here:  "His Elderly Father as a Young Man" by Leo Dangel
Originally read: January 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Leo Dangel





This poem is a narrative.  And while I thrashed narrative poems before (see:  "Zombie Preparedness Plan" by Mary Jo Firth Gillett) for being "overly narrative" (too concerned with plot, having no sound in the lines, no purpose in the breaks and white space, etc.)  I don't write about these things in this poem.  Of course, I can go on and on thrashing how "narrative" the poem is; however, what I find interesting is that past me didn't care and focused on the plot.  Current me thinks this could be a pretty good short story, and as a poem, well, I'll guess I'll get into that.

So  the poem is a confession, and that's what past me focused on in the analysis.  I wrote, "Sets up an interesting narrative -- the speaker (father) and the audience (child) is set up -- the person reading the poem is a voyeur."  I think I wanted to use "voyeur" in a sentence.  Anyway, so there' a triple perspective that is going on:

1) What the father is actually saying about his past.
2) How the intended (implied) audience (i.e. son) interprets the father's past.
3) How the unintended audience (reader) interprets the father's past.

Now, this is where I shift this poem away from a narrative (story) to narrative (poem).  Number 2 on my list is never mentioned.  We have a confessionial/dramatic monologue.  I guess my argument would be that if this wanted to be a short story then I want to know more about the son, and Jennie Johnson.

Back to the poem though, past me was iffy about utilizing names in a poem; however, the usage of a name in the poem keeps a certain sense of authenticity of the confession.

And I further believe the authenticity of the poem because of the confusing, even contradictory, statements in the poem.

"I read the letter a hundred times / and kept it in a cigar box / with useless things I have saved."  Past me wrote, "I like the contradiction here.  The majority of the time people save what they hold dear."  The list of items is weird though; however, their a story behind each one that's never followed through which is a theme of the poem which is exemplified  at the end.

Past me wrote:

"There's so much psychology in the lines -- per-meditated secrets.  And the ending looked at the psychological perspective.  Is the father subconsciously having his delusion have more emotional impact on him than his wife.  The son's point-of-view is interesting because of the silence.  There is no interjection or judgement call."

So there's no explicit judgement call, there's things left in the air, the narrative is incomplete.  The confession and technique in this poem is not the let down of the unfulfilled, rather the psychology of the unfulfilled.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Analysis of "Beauty" by Elinor Morton Wylie

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Beauty" by Elinor Morton Wylie
Originally read: January 16, 2013
More information about the Poet: Elinor Morton Wylie


So I read this poem after "She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron; however, I don't remember if I analyzed them at the same time.  Judging by the line marks, I'm pretty sure no.  Anyway, reading the poem and then thinking about what Byron wrote brought a new perspective for me.

Form first, this poem is written in quatrains with an alternating rhyme scheme (rhyme scheme similar to Byron), and still the technique.  There's something separate and off in the poem.

Let me write down what I first thought about the poem:

"Summary time!  If stanza 3 was put in place in stanza 1 -- I think the poem would be less of a definition of beauty but how beauty is defined."

Although I don't agree with past me, I do see the point.  If I looked at this poem as a definition poem (title being the word to be defined) then I would need to know a context.  The warning at the end of the poem takes a natural progression and is predictable, and, at the time, I probably thought the first stanza was (filled with images) should end the poem.

However, past me didn't like the first stanza as well:

"The bird metaphors don't fit for me -- don't call her beatuiful like a dove because she's wild like wings of a gull?"

The focus for me back then was on "wing" rather than "gull,"  but still the whole double bird metaphor doesn't work for me.  And if I keep looking at the notes then past me really didn't like this poem.

But context changes and time passes.  I'm not saying that I did a 180, but I look at the poem in a different context.

Men define beauty.  And what can be defined can be encapsulated, enslaved, and put on display.

So even though the poem has this weird denying tone to it like a child philosopher, and the images aren't that great, and the rhyme scheme isn't that strong, at least it's a push back against an established definition.

"Say not of beauty she is good"

I wrote in the beginning "beauty =/= good."  I can't help but look at me being cynical.  I read the first line, now as a serious argument. -- good (not in attitude) but good (in worth).   The idea of worth is followed through in stanza where her worth as in if her beauty is loved too much rather than the self it's much worse.

Then the last stanza fits in a didactic (maybe overly) way.  Trying to cage her in the definition of beauty will kill her (a smidge too much of hyperbole). 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Analysis of "She Walks in Beauty" by George Gordon Byron

Original poem reprinted online here:  "She Walks in Beauty" by George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron)
Originally read: January 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  George Gordon Byron

What I didn't write in my notes (and I just realized this after rereading this poem) is that the poem is iambic octameter with three sestets with an alternating rhyme scheme (ababab, cdcdcd, efefef).  What does that mean to the poem?  There's something off with the poem.

Not in the sense of meaning, but the poem seems "incomplete" form wise.  The "usual"  form is iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets,  octaves (maybe even quatrains).  I'm probably looking too much into it, but form informs sound and interpretation.

With that being written, the most important line of the poem is deciphering the initial simile, "She walks in beauty like the night / of cloudless climes and starry skies."  So this is a dumb point for me to address, but the simile can refer to the "she" and also the concept of "beauty" since the construction of the sentence (which I didn't quote all).  And so these images "she" and "beauty" are intertwined with "the night" which the speaker constructs throughout the poem contrasting where and what "she" and "beauty" is.

I'm referring to this line at the end of the first stanza, "heaven to gaudy day denies."  I find this line to be pretty bold actually.  "Heaven" denies this beauty and woman.  Past me wrote, "Is she a beauty that, when seen in daylight, does no justice when seen in the night?"  I think past me is way too literal here.

Heaven can be a symbol of hierarchical conceptions.  Think pop-culture beauty versus individual preferences of beauty.  Now magnify this above debate to a religious scale.  I feel the poem is not condemning religion or even mentioning it as commentary -- however, the poem utilizes the extremes to magnify how the speaker feels about the subject.

And the comparisons to her and beauty become further defined.  This is not the "scary" night, but the soft, calm, and mysterious night, that if exposed ("One shade the more, one ray the less") would take away from the she, beauty, and night. Or rather, perhaps, one shouldn't delve deeper to actualize the meaning of beauty rather should trust empirical experience to feel beauty.

So, lastly, I write this, about darkness, "hidden or unexposed in a good way?"  I feel that the speaker addresses the subject as a question rather than adoration (yes, stanza 2 is physical adoration exemplified) because what does the speaker do with such beauty?  Writes it down, observes, and doesn't try to persuade the subject to be something else other than his own perception of beauty (which, I'm thinking, has it's good and bad points).  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Analysis of "Off Lows, Weakness Remains: Meditation #3" by Susan Briante

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Off Lows, Weakness Remains: Meditation #3" by Susan Briante
Originally read: January 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Susan Briante






DIY means do it yourself.  Knowing this now (rather than before when I only had a dictionary) turns the poem a bit more for me in a certain direction.  However, I want to quote what I wrote earlier about this poem:


"Reassurance of self in a parking lot - or rather 'everyone else' there is no talk of the speaker or you -- in this way -- the ambiguous advice serves as prophetic.  I wonder in a different form, maybe avant or traditional, does  (can) the same message get across ... and how or if one side dilutes more than the other an in what way?"


Well that's more deep than I though.  When I reread the poem I noted that the "you" is definitely referring to the speaker, and there's a sense of madness the more and more the speaker tries to "calm" him/herself down.  I created a narrative in my mind of a person who is tired of life -- not in the suicidal depressing way, but more of "what do I do now way."

I'll have to admit that the way the speaker is writing/thinking is the most realistic way, I feel, depicts someone at the end of their rope.  And, I've done the exact same scene once or twice before.

Anyway, the technique used here is quite interesting.  The italics mention the thought process however I found it comical the first read -- like trying to tell yourself to stay calm, but by saying stay calm you continue to panic -- it's more of hindsight humor.

But the poem sets up this type of humer. The poem opens up with, "PartyStore/PierOne/Target/Kohl's parking lot" the disarray represented here is short, and I feel, comical.  So automatically for me as a reader, I think all short list are comical.

So when I get to the end of the poem: the over-exaggeration of sound and image, "blood blister rising on your thumb."  The usage of archaic wording, "Lo!" did not prepare me for the zen like ending, "everyone crawls before flight."  And then I'm torn whether to take the zen thing seriously or not.  I'm not sure.

Also getting back to DIY.  Yes, initially I thought it was a hipster phrase like yolo or swag.  But in a serious context it's reminding the self that the self can make it.

I think the key, looking back at this poem for me, is the word "Meditation" in the title.  There's freeform thought, humor mixed with seriousness (sometimes separate, sometimes together), and there's a zen koanic ending.  This poem follows a certain pattern without being formulaic.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Analysis of "Item:" by Angie Estes

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Item:" by Angie Estes
Originally read: January 15, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Angie Estes






"This poem hinges on this colon because the context of the poem changes from poem, to definition."  I somewhat agree with past me.  The title having a colon does set-up a poem to be read differently; however, it's not until I read the poem over again (from the first time I read it) that I saw how the colon worked in the poem.  Does the poem hinge on the punctuation?  For me, Yes.  Does the poem change to a definition?  For good and bad, maybe.  It's a definition poem so there's a little of the sterile (definition) and there's a little of the literary (poetry) in here.


So the italics in the first lines sets up a context to the definition, "a beautiful hours, very well / and richly illuminated"  These lines state that items are like this but also how the reader should look at the following definitions of items.


The items range from yahrezit candle, guest star, thimble, T-bone steak (each sentence written up to a point is all different items).

Some notes I wrote along the way bout each item is that the mother's thimble is an "introduction of the 'personal'" yet the personal is trivialized by the simile of, "erect / as a nipple."  Past me didn't like the simile as it lead to, "the image turns from humorous to somewhat creepy, bit it goes against sentimentality which has good timing.  A definition within a definition"  I don't know what past me means with the last part.  But the shrink-wrapped T-bonne is kind of creepy.


The the reaffirmation of Item two-thrids way of the poem kind of resets the current definition (imposed in the first two lines) and The reset turns personal with the "I."


And the personal "I" redefines and refines items like how butterfly is used twice, "I saw / the swallowtail butterfly pull nectar / down its though from the bush called butterfly" Misdirection.  This confusion leads to the surreal end which I still don't understand what it means.  Past me writes, "The ending is so surreal, not particular favorite ending; yet, if the ending happened at "robin snapped them shut" it would be stronger, but much more sentimental"

Basically the ending could've been any surreal things, in my opinion, like parrots instead of doves or a magazine instead of a book, and that disbelief of the stream-of-conciousness is there.  However, the risk of ending with the sentimental line would've overly focused the poem but the line would've made more sense. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Analysis of "In Memoriam (VII)" by Alfred Tennyson

Original poem reprinted online here:  "In Memoriam (VII)" by Alfred Tennyson
Originally read: January 14, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Alfred Tennyson








This is another hesitation by me.  I like the poem (why would I choose to do this if I didn't).  However, looking around the internet, a simple search shows more detailed analysis of the poem from people like me (mostly readers) to scholars who write the context, the history, and the meaning behind every rhyme scheme and word.  I can also see why this would be a turn off for people trying to get into poetry (for such a short piece why is there so much context?).  So, I'm going forward the best I can.


Do I know the context behind this poem?  Somewhat.  You'd probably find more information here, or here.  This is part 7 of a 17 year elegy.  There's so many nuances and allusion in the poem that I possibly cannot get.  I think for a reader of poetry (with any amount of background or knowledge), he/she has to accept that there's going to be missed meanings, and lost context; however, it's no excuse to not try to look up the backdrop of a poem to further contextualize meaning and image.

I spent too much time with theory, now onto practice.  The poem is in rhymed quatrains with the second and third line rhyming and the first and fourth line rhyming as well.  The second and third line are indented so there's a visual of a couplet and a separation.


There's interesting adjective noun combinations like "unlovely street" which previous me wrote, "I like it" good analysis there past me.  Current me thinks that "streets" a symbol for a passageway is butted up with a cutting adjective "unlovely" which brings an emotional pull to the streets -- something visually and emotionally unpleasing.


The flow of the poem follows a simplest act -- a simple handshake that the speaker cannot let go of.  In the second stanza the line, "Behold me, for I cannot sleep" brings a sense of the now when the first stanza was more of past action.  The speaker cannot sleep because he's like a "guilty thing" (not actually one).  By being like a guilty thing, the speaker defines himself as not (well not really) and through circular logic, the speaker is in a sense feeling guilty for not feeling guilty.


Or rather, the feeling of guilt is starting to wane as time passes.


The last stanza turns in the screw about the elegy about "him," but the poem shifts to a "her" speaker.  Past me questions who the she is, and this is the part where I write the beginning all over again -- there's a context which I don't understand.  I don't know who she represents...


...


It was added in on my part..the "she"  I was wondering why it was there why the second and third line didn't rhyme -- it should be "again" and "rain."  Well then...this is embarrassing.


Then the last part makes sense.  The speaker goes through the streets, sleepless, feeling empty ("bald" and "blank" emphasize this), and wondering what to do.


So the question for me is how did "she" get there....Freudian slip on my part I guess.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Analysis of "The Teller" by David Mason

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The Teller" by David Mason
Originally read: January 14, 2013
 More information about the Poet: David Mason





So this poem is tricky.  Yes, indeed that these is a narrative.  Also this is a Elizabethan Sonnet (even though the construction is separated in eight and six), so the volta in the poem is the couplet at the end.  So within the form already there's a bit of a sleight of hand.

However, it's not really realized in the first eight lines.  The poem starts off like a regular narrative about how an Eskimo named Jack got lost at sea while fishing.  This all feels like back story, but what makes this poem work for me is that the back story is literally eight lines -- all I need to know is there.

Then the next five lines, I believe, chronicle the five years the Eskimo took to go back home.  I write this:

The anaphora matches the passage of time.  Technique wise, it's pretty brilliant.

1 [year one] Did the English control Singapore 30 years ago?  Maybe I'm thinking about this too much [I do want to add that it's the "post-colonialism" name of Jack for the Eskimo -- if you catch my drift (pun) -- Jack was already starting to amalgamate to the outside world]

2 [year two] Move to Bali -- hustle [note Jack is already in an opposite world -- from what he used to be to what he is perceived to be]

3 [year three] Drugs in Vietnam -- a change of state [literally, physically, and metaphorically]

4 [year four] Wanting to return [more specifically to snow which has it's own connotations -- pure, past]

However I don't agree with 5 which is (what I wrote), "What vessel would turn back to a simple wasteland."  More directly, the poem refers back to the title, "The Teller."  The poem is about the person telling the story not the story itself and the couplet wants to reinforce that with direct commentary.

That the speaker listening to the teller, and admits that that he doesn't remember who the teller was.  Now through a play of cantrips and word play -- the focus on the "he said, he said" discussion disappears, and, for me, at least, and the story takes over.

However, by pointing out the teller (writer) means nothing but the relationship between the story and the reader mean everything (or at least takes up the poem) brings in a metapoetics.  What role does the teller play in an art piece.  And in this poem...the teller is just a puzzling filter that's least interesting than the subject.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Analysis of "Soldierization" by Jane Satterfield

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Soldierization" by Jane Satterfield
Originally read: January 13, 2013 (hole punched the date :-/ )
More information about the Poet:  Jane Satterfield









What's the difference between prose and poetry?  Hell that I know?  This is just a guess though.

The difference between Prose and Poetry is expectation.  The automatic response when reading something in prose is information -- whether it be an article detailing something, or a finding out the plot of a story -- prose has that long tradition of a useful tool for information.


Can you imagine a poem constricted to information like an article?  Meh, maybe, just not there yet.  Poetry plays more on a language level (or at least has more leeway).  And although sound accounts for some the distinction, this poem distinct itself through does other poetic techniques.

So I paused after writing the last sentence.  I wanted to be specific about the poetry techniques that separate this from prose (as far as technique goes) -- alliteration, tone, image, dual speaker to create an external and internal monologue, but all these techniques can be found in prose pieces as well.  I was so confident in the first part of this...

Just like the speaker in the poem.  The tone in the first part is one of complete control -- kind of like manual instructions which shift when the italic parts come in with pondering that break the tone, "I'm going to bring my brains to this, my brawn."  This sentence works in two ways (more than two, but these are the ones I note) 1) like stated above, break in tone 2) The speaker is trying to reconstruct or rather reconnect (either or) the definition of brains as brawny -- or rather one compensates or compliments the other.

And the tone reflects the kind of, maybe masculine (my connotative thoughts) cold thoughts -- direction to control the chaos -- yet as the poem continues the italics and the regular thoughts intertwine -- mesh a little too well to create chaos.  Then the sounds "ghastly glimmering of the guns" I wrote down that, "not a fan of the alliteration here. or not...gunfire?"  And after reading this poem again and again today, the alliteration is growing on me, but I still don't like "memory's mirror" it feels too general, too domestic in the situation.

I do like the integration in the line phrase "brain & brawn" as though the speaker is trying to get it together and the brevity in the last sentences, "Poor words, quiet grave." Is starting to grow on me even though past me wrote, "somewhat cliche yet strong image."

So this prose poem has a lot of good technique going on throughout.  Whether or not this prose poem is more on the prose side or the poem side...I'm still debating.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Analysis of "I Said to Love" by Thomas Hardy

Original poem reprinted online here:  "I Said to Love" by Thomas Hardy
Originally read: January 12, 2013
More information about the Poet: Thomas Hardy







I didn't write this down in my notes, but after rereading this poem, I imagine a narrative, similar to how I saw a narrative in Ministry Today by Steve Davenport even though, more or less, this is a lyric poem.   I, once again, imagine two guys at a bar talking about love this time (other time it was about God).


The anaphora of "I said to [...]" brings a dialogue quality to the poem.  When the speaker is addressing "love," really, the speaker is just exposing his own thoughts about love.  For example, in the first stanza, "When men adored thee and thy way / all else above;"  Although the speaker tries to look at the subject a bit objectively and take himself away from the "men."  The further the poem gets, the more personal the poem becomes.

I think I questioned when the speaker wrote, "I said to him."  Because I didn't know whom "him" referred to.  Past me wrote this, "Is love 'him' -- a masculine trait and the way 'I' is in the poem is kind of like a salesman trying to sell something."

So the identity of him is clearer to me now.  Him is the speaker.  I know this is kind of like a "duh" moment, however, what threw me off was the "we" in the poem.   So my automatic association is  the speaker and another person.  But I see it now as the speaker and the past self of the speaker:

     We now know more of thee than then
     We were but weak in judgement when,
         With hearts abrim,
     We clamoured thee that thou would'st please
     Inflict on use thine agonies

So it's more of a hindsight type of thing.  The now speaker, (who is remembering his own advice) and the raw past speaker (just learning these things) have discovered/done things (ambiguous) for the sake of love.

Then when the the speaker once again addresses the concept of love, the kind of objective (outsider) perspective devolves into attacks -- love is not (insert list here in stanza 3).

Then finally with the last stanza the speaker changes that his pain is all man's pain "we are too old in apathy!" (this line is a bit sentimental, but it's a nice exclamation that changes the direction of the poem).  The last line of the poem which repeats the "I said to Love." is kind of dismissing in a sense.  The last stanza, the speaker could've made a bold proclamation about mankind and not to fall in the traps of love, however, the exclamation and statement is addressed to the "Love."  A specific memory, a specific time realized through conceptualization.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Analysis of "Snow" by Kenneth Rexroth

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Snow" by Kenneth Rexroth
Originally read: January 11, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Kenneth Rexroth





 So there's a certain speed of images that goes on here.  After rereading the poem today, I thought of how to control speed in a poem like for example alliteration and assonance create speed in a poem; furthermore, I feel, the majority of the time, longer sentences create speed.  So would that mean a long sentence with alliteration can be read the fastest?

Anyway,  the poem starts out slow through sentence structure and image, "Low clouds hang on the mountain."  The poem could go into a different image for movement sake, but it's the reiteration (note: not repetition) of the image that slows the poem down, "The forest is filled with fog."  So the first few lines focuses on the clouds and the attributes of clouds: dim, invisible, growing.  Clouds are then juxtaposed by birds who take on the emotions of fear, loneliness, and cold through the image of sound.  Visual vs Sound.

Time shifts, but slowly.  It's not until the halfway mark where this simile happens, "Now the valley below / Is filled with clouds like clotted / Cream and over them the sun / Sets,"  So I do like the line break of "clotted" which brings a physical tactile sense to the visual image; however "clotted cream" simile does break the mood.  Past me writes, "I'm iffy about the simile, takes me too away from the moment."  I feel the poem has to take you away from the moment in the middle or else the poem is like a portrait of images -- looks nice, says nothing.

However, (predictably so?) the pace of images changes after the simile.  The length of the sentences too:

     [...] After dark
     A wind rises and breaks branches
     From the trees and howls in the
     Treetops and then suddenly
     Is still. [...]

Then after the speed of images, there is the introduction of the "I" observing the scene.  How this "I" operates isn't a judge of a scene rather is a part of the scene being affected by the change.  What I finds interesting is that the "I" never states if the shifts of physical landscapes even hurt or help him.  The "I," rather, validates the change through observation -- empirical evidence.

The "I" notes the quiet and the repetition (note: not reiteration) here,

      [...] Great flakes of wet snow are
      Falling.  Snowflakes are falling
      Into the dark flames of the
      Dying fire [...]

brings a sense of speed to the images once again.  Also the strong adjectives can be looked at as the "I" personalizing the images but not actualizing them to certain experiences.  Rather, the "I" continues to skip forward, as though not wanting to deal with the situation.

The end is interesting because the last line, "And the dogwood blossoms are / Frozen, and the tender young / Purple and citron oak leaves."  I don't know if the leaves should be read as noun or a verb.  The conjunction "and" furthers the grammatical complications since, theoretically speaking, these images are all connected (there's a part I cut off).  Also the repetition of "and" brings a sense of automatic discovery and child-like description (and then this, and then this).  Kind of like a rebirth maybe, but from what?