Original poem reprinted online here: "Ars Poetica" by Natania Rosenfeld
Originally read: February 19, 2013
More information about the Poet: Natania Rosenfeld
"Ars Poetica" is a very loaded title. Ars Poetica --Poetics of the speaker (this was my definition I brought before reading the poem. Ars Poetica -- "The Art of Poetry." This term sets up, especially in the title, forces the reader to look at the construction of the poem and how the form, subject, and mode is in relation to the form, subject, and mode.
And I did just. Past me read and put comments like, "The conjunction of 'or' brings a sense of separation -- theme reoccuring in the previous stanza. Forced from the speaker or style." When I was rereading the poem (out loud) again I realized something about the difference between past me and the reader I am now.
Yes, I can look at the form, subject, and mood and discern what these things add to the creation of poetry. However, now I see that the poem is comprised of three parts (duh, right) where there's a subject -- always a woman in different periods of her life and how the women looks upon certain situations.
An elderly woman who smokes and appears to be at the bitterest end of her life, "goes early / to bed with a glass of gin." The subject is hearing an art piece, "Aida's sweat [on a red cloak]."
This piece of information is on the side. So it's what the item does for memory -- have the woman remember bits of an opera, "O terra, addio" And this is synechdoche in a sense. That, the majority of the time, most people don't remember art piece by piece, word for word -- and it's not even the poem itself that people remember.
People remember the feeling of experience of a moment -- whether the moment occurs in a poem or not.
The crux of this part is, "West or East." There's the forced juxtaposition in the same sphere. East/West = "The Chinese masseuse leans her palms on the sill above Main Street" and the Wes/Eastt = "Grandmother bent to pick rice in the Yunan Province."
Place and person contrast which leads to the final line, "Always currents to listen to." Maybe a nod to the collective unconscious. Or rather, there's so little description of character and a lot of philosophizing the possibility of a scene including these two subjects. In any case, the second stanza in part 2 goes even further away from the subject.
The last part has a girl and a snail. The girl takes on the role of the observer, who sees the images the snail creates, "blazing a tail, his / toothed tongue scraping."
Scraping a scene, an undisturbed scene:
"The Panes turned opaque.
Sometimes a ray pierced his
mossy domain. Did he feel
her presence when she tapped?"
So the snail is the only "he" (genderized?) figure who is distant from the girl in a sense that she keeps him but let him do his own thing -- and he seems to do his own thing much to the curiosity of the girl. The narrative is different from the above two because the style is like looking at something from a child's point of view verses the more adult point of view.
What's the difference? I'm not too sure. I know that the second stanza had a didactic feel to them, and the first stanza was more about the internal (how the subject sees a piece), and the last one feels more like an observation -- a curiosity for the feeling.