Friday, June 7, 2013

Analysis of "The Garden" by Heather Winterer

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Garden" by Heather Winterer
Originally read: February 24, 2013
More information about the Poet: Heather Winterer (Note: You have to scroll down a bit to find her),




I'm a sucker for this type of poem -- an allusion to the "fall of man"  "Paradise Lost," "East of Eden," "The History of the World Part I."  My reason for liking interpretations of the "fall of man" is because there's so much potential to work with and it's interesting to see how each artist deals with the scene.

The first paragraph I find somewhat hilarious due to the word choice and the phrase, "Never remembered Adam's name for the first giraffe."  "Mutability" is a funny word in a poem like this because of what's not being stated in a sense.  It would be easy to put down "evolve" here, but there's heavy connotations behind that word.  The usage of mutability brings a sense of "something is off" There's supposed to be a change, but a mutant-like change (which make sense when Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden).  "Adam's name for the first giraffe" is an awkward aside in the poem that feels like Eve (which I'm thinking the persona draws from) is trying to fill in the space in multiple levels.  Here, the line works like a past conversation piece where Adam is trying to remember something, and Eve cannot; furthermore, the animal brought up is so specific that it's funny.  Of course the inner critique in me wants to know more about the giraffe, why this animal?  Why not any other animal?  Or rather why be specific here rather than general?  In any case, the tone for the first stanza brings a sense of dismissive, awkward sense of humor.

Which leads to the litotes in the second stanza, "We got caught up, tied down / in real estate,"  Yes, Eve goes further int o he real estate in the third and fourth stanza, but being tied down to "real estate" (tied down and caught up being utilized in multiple levels [attention/detention]) -- referring to Eden as real estate strengthens the dismissive tone.  Past me wrote "colloquial and litotes for Eden."  Now, I wouldn't write that the poem has a colloquial vernacular, rather a shifting one.  The attention to the language shifts from dismissive to trivial to alliteration -- feeling like it's trying to find a voice in a sense.

The third and fourth stanza follow a the tone but there's a shift towards the serious here  "Eden Bay: / a place in  the row / with new appliances high ceilings / carpets wall to wall."  The focus here is on the physical area of Eden rather than the head -- so there's a shift to the external rather than the internal which leads to stanza four  about the garden and here's the line that turns the poem, "turning colors in the shade."  A bit predictable, yes, especially the shade part.  Now I know the poem will deal with something serious.

The fifth stanza turns to the "now" or the environment that the speaker is dealing with currently.  There's some strong rhetoric with, "still falling to the zero landscape down" which brings in another allusion to 9/11 (or maybe I'm looking too much into "zero landscape").  However, note how the tone gets colder in stanza five and then six.  It's as if the dismissive humor is gone and is replaced with being dismissive. 

The last stanza  I'll just write it out:

"Taking inventory every minute of the day
                 another naming of another animal
Its dull matriculation into fact."

This alludes to the naming of animals and the tone is quite different from the "Never remembered Adan's name for the first giraffe" line in stanza one.  Here, the Eve is in the now instead of the dream past.  This is commentary on the past and seeing their actions as "inventory"  -- something business like, but necessary.

The last line interests me because of the wording and the intent behind the line.  The adjective noun combination of "dull matriculation" brings an emotional end and a realist beginning to the poem.  "Dull" being an emotional judgement on the job of "matriculation" which is colder than "inventory"  "Into fact"  After thinking about this line many times, I find myself gravitating to the end as cynical more than dismissive. 

They exist because we name it.

If I had to put an emphasis on a single word in the sentence that is sums up the last line for me -- previously it was "because" and now it is "exist" if that makes sense.  Probably not.

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