Original poem reprinted online here: "February Snow" by Francisco Aragón
Originally read: February 15, 2013
More information about the Poet: Francisco Aragón
I didn't write a lot of notes on this poem when I first read it. I think the narrative of the poem, the main core technique of this poem, and the ambiguous pronoun of "you" confuse me. I had the read the poem a couple times to figure out there's three to four narratives (okay so it doesn't seem like I didn't figure out much, but I swear...yeah).
1) Narrative between the present speaker and a "you" who is traveling in Spain.
2) Narrative of how the war began.
3) Narrative of the Postal Worker
[4) Overall Narrative of how these three narratives connect with the speaker's life.]
I wrote "Narrative" too many times in the last two paragraphs; however, the poem is both dependent on understanding the three narratives and how they tie in together. Also, form wise, if there are three main narrative points then the tercet stanzas would make sense rather than the poem be separated in sections which I'm going to do. Counter-productive.
1. Narrative between the present speaker and a "you" who is traveling Spain.
In the first nine stanzas focus on the speaker and a "you" wandering around Spain. The narrative is a traveler's log "in that maze, half-lost--Madrid" However, the speaker tells a slight contextual tale about a landmark, "days before you arrive, / an Opel with false plates was parked" So the speaker, at least has been in Spain for a while. Also the knowledge of the past foreshadows the speakers perception and turn to narratives about the past.
The anecdote about the mother adds to the sense of the domestic. Also, the symbol of the mother comes back to the end of the poem. When I read the part about the mother the first time though I wrote down, "discussion of the personal." Note though how I didn't point out who the anecdote is more personal for -- the speaker or the you.
The speaker develops more of himself than the character of you in the last couple of stanzas in the "first" part. There's the line, "And I think of you and your wife / and daughter: getting to see Madrid / in white, your visit winding down" Here is projection on the image level. The speaker associates the city as "white" which will set up the transition to the narrative of war.
II. Narrative of how the war began.
First off the transition. What makes the speaker think of the war?
" [..] flakes flutter
and fall, dissolving before reaching
the ground -- aguanieve, he said
while from a town near Seville
B-52s were lifting off. . ."
Okay, so the shift occurs because the snow is reminiscent of a certain time frame. The image shifts the speaker back to that time. The sentiment is nice but the technique here -- the alliteration, and the ellipses, I feel, try to hard to dramatize the scene. However, the narrative of how the war begun is only six stanzas.
And within those six stanzas there's discussions of "car bombs" which is an exposition for the speaker to wander and see a group of men unable to work because of the car bomb. This section is the most hazy and but transitions really quickly.
I feel that the speaker quickly wants to compare the life of his friend in the present to this postal worker in the past.
III. Narrative of the Postal Worker.
The speaker constructs the story of the postal worker waiting to work. "as a boy, would plunge his hands / into the white, the cold / a sweet jolt." Once again the idea of white is applied to a sense of innocence and bewilderment (tying in, in a sense, parts I and III). The speaker keeps going on a very quick pace to marriage to a foreboding quote, "it's in / his blood, she [his wife[ would come to say"
The twist of the poem comes at the end
"hill: it is February
and she is picturing him
and the boy, up there now
playing, horsing around"
The reader finds out the the postal worker is now dead and the wife hopes the man and the boy within him
are playing and horsing around. Now the poem reads more like a movie at this point. Part I leads to II leads to III then goes back to I based on image and how time changes from "war" to "peace." How the image of white and snow always comes back around after and before the darkness of war.
For me, current me followed the narrative more than the poetic technique. I could see this as a novel rather than a poem. And when I look at the notes that past me wrote, they address the narrative more than anything else.