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?