Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Analysis of "Syzygy" by Martin Ott

Original poem reprinted online here: "Syzygy" by Martin Ott
Originally read: February 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Martin Ott



I didn't look up "Syzygy" when I read this the first time.   I thought the poet coined a word that is a riff on synergy which fits with the energy of the poem.  However, as I was searching for this link to this poem today, I decided why not check it out.

Syzygy --  Literature / Poetry) (in classical prosody) a metrical unit of two feet.  So wouldn't be the basis of measurement in Poetry (how to measure spondees, dactyl, iambs, etc.)

Here's a yahoo answer about how Syzygy is used in a poem (Phonetic and  Metrical).  I still don't get it after reading this.  The poem itself doesn't scan conventionally.  However, when I look at the poem through this definition of Syzygy:

Syzygy  -- (Astronomy) either of the two positions (conjunction or opposition) of a celestial body when sun, earth, and the body lie in a straight line.

Then there's an added dimension to the poem since the repeated usage of "The dead have/are" shows a linear progression.  Also since the structure of the poem is one long stanza, I am forced, as the reader, to read the connections at the moment rather than see them individually for a second.

The first iteration of "the dead have" focuses on humor.  The dead has lost it and why -- the ones that consume them are "carry jokes" or rather physical pieces of the dead.  Past me wrote this down, "Physical image makes me laugh philosophically - sand carries time physically and metaphorically.:  Well humor is further continued on.

"The dead are afraid of wishbones snapped / exactly in two" Visually speaking, there's the focus on the skeletal remains of the dead.  Also note that a couple lines down, the dead are referred in the general "they are" or "they have" because, I feel, that the important aspect of the dead are named;  meanwhile, "they" diminishes the effect of the deads wants or actions.

For example further down, "the dead have lost their sense of direction."  This correlates with the astrology definition a bit more for me.  Where do they go -- note the focus is not of "heaven" or "hell."  The actions are based in a current place and real action (like snow globes shattering -- an image that can represent a "destroyed myth of heaven" but the  focus does return to the dead).

"The dead dream of butterflies"  so the speaker is fleshing out the dead with a thought process instead of a physical manifestation.  This line in particular foreshadows a reversal and comments on what the dead want, "They daydream of snakeskin belts stolen back by serpents."

So the reversal is coming in the form of, "The dead have found me at last."  The reader expected this as well as the speaker.  This line brings an added dimension to the dead, "A daughter born."   The dead are not necessarily "the dead" but rather takes on a quality of memories.  Something to be pushed away.  And with this further definition (recognition?),  the dead, "have found their sense / of humor"  The line break works on multiple levels -- they found humor and a "sense" -- a purpose.

The last line takes away the shadow of the dead, leaving only well a manifestation that means nothing too deep -- only parts that don't represent the whole.



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