Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Analysis of "Butterfly with Parachute" by Stephen Burt

Original poem reprinted online here: "Butterfly with Parachute" by Stephen Burt
Originally read: March 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: Stephen Burt






I keep going back in my head about why I chose this poem.  Yes, I look at my notes and past me wrote things like, "Description of drawing based on food, a bit child-like, young, innocent."  This type of description does go along with the context of the poem.  However, the poem doesn't hold up for me the second read through.

Saccharine comes to mind after I reread this poem.

Anyway, the parallel structure of the poem is heavily implied.  "Butterfly with Parachute" should go line by line with "A real one wouldn't need one,"  I point this out since the structure is parallel, then the way the poem is read has to be in that parallel structure.  "A real <parachute> wouldn't need <butterfly>."  So, from here the focus will be the butterfly and why this particular butterfly needs a parachute.

"but the one Nathan draws surely does:"  Here there's a specific name that brings a sense of the personal in the poem.  Note, not confessional.  The speaker is making observations of the creation of the "Nathan" (relation not explained as of yet).  I think this is where current me focused on naming and thought -- well this is going to be "cute"; meanwhile,  past me was focus on the description (see above).

Now the description relies on taste and visual orientation "green apple, toasted coconut, and grape,"  which past me calls "child-like, young, and innocent," and then current me gets to this description, "billowing valentine hearts."  The taste and visual imagery teeters the scene to child-like, the "billowing hearts" just makes the poem too cute -- too like I have to say "awww" to the poem because, clearly, the poem is about the child's creation, and not the recreation of the speaker in order to bring an elliptical epiphany about life at the end...wait?

Any way, there's the reason of why this particular butterfly has a parachute, "Alive. it could stay off the floor / for a few unaerodynamic minutes; / thrown as a paper airplane, for a few more."  The transformation of static (drawing) to dynamic (flying) brings movement to the poem, and the adjective/noun combination of "unaerodynamic minutes" sets up an interesting metaphor to go forward with.

But then we get the perspective of the "father," in stanza 2 "Very sensibly, therefore, / our son gave it something, not to keep it apart / from the ground forever, but rather to make safe its decent."  Past me wrote "Son created the parachute."  But current me can't hep but see that the speaker is trying to impose definition and meaning onto the actions here -- his son did this for a reason, while the previous stanza relied on images to get that idea across.

And since the father is introduced with a judgement call, here we go with the epiphany:

When we ask that imagination discover the limits
of the real
world only slowly,
maybe this is what we meant.

Past me wrote, "Summary, but necessary interpreting a child's action for the imaginatory -- who does the 'we' refer to?"  Yes, past me, I understand the need to understand imagery, but to point out the meaning so harshly with an epiphany like this while using a "we" -- it's saccharine.  Okay so we could learn from the actions of a child -- looking at the world and creating slowly to figure out imagination.  Well, great.  Prophetic at the end with the sacrifice of the image in the beginning; vivid imagery in the beginning that is disregarded for the end.

First read through, yeah I can agree that the structure and the imagery are well rendered, and I could forgive the epiphany.  The second time through...not so much.

Analysis of "Lost and Found" by Ron Padgett

Original poem reprinted online here: "Lost and Found" by Ron Padgett
Originally read: March 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: Ron Padgett





The poem hinges on the epigraph.  Well, not the words of the epigraph, rather how the epigraph is used in general.  What is the purpose of an epigraph in a poem?  Why quote someone else and not let the poem ride for itself?  If the epigraph is used as an allusive device, why?  What does the epigraph do to a poem?

"Man has lost his gods. / if he loses his dignity, / it's all over"

What an epigraph does, traditionally for me, is set up the tone and allusion to the poem.  There's two ways that this poem could go (well multiple, but these are the two that I'm looking for) either support or undercut what's being stated through tone and content.  The epigraph brings a sense of free will, that man has "lost his gods" and only has "dignity."  The epigraph is also a very advice type of epigraph.

This epigraph was written by the author (as explained in the first line). Note it is, "I said that."  An auditory cue versus a visual written cue.   Which matter's in the sense that they are different mediums and remembering what's said versus seeing something written has a sense of distortion to it.

And the first line leads into the idea of distortion. The language and phrasing is very colloquial as thought someone is trying to explain what he/she said.  More like what he/she said once drunk and now trying to figure out what was said, "By dignity / I mean mutual / self-respect."  The speaker is a bit on the defensive (well italics seems like a defensive quality) which also goes towards the definition of values, "(Values are where / the gods went / when they died.)"

So the explanation of the definitions I took as something serious -- in the sense that the speaker was somewhat trying to explain him/herself rather than redefine the words.  Then the last stanza is a complete break from the scene, but not the definition tone.

My dog Susie doesn't seem
to have any values, but she does
have Pat and me, gods
she gets to play with and bark at

So this is definition in practice.  Do I try to adapt the definition of values to the dog?  I did for a while, but I'm not too sure that the poem wants the definition to be adapted.  It's not necessarily redefinition; rather how the application of definition can be cast on situations -- showing how "values" and "divinity" works in a humorous way.  Perspective, in a way.

I do have to note the "About the Poem" where it's stated that "'By the way, the corny play on god/dog was unintentional.'" Not every word in a poem is intentional, conversely, the words and phrases uses in a poem are purposeful.  What does that mean?  A writer can't possibly conceive of every technique in the book when creating a poem, but some techniques bleed onto others.  Old/New Gods.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Analysis of "Black Stone on Top of a White Stone" by Cesar Vallejo

Original poem reprinted online here: "Black Stone on Top of a White Stone" by Cesar Vallejo
Originally read: March 27, 2013
More information about the Poet: Cesar Vallejo






I don't know whether to call the repetition anaphora or not.  Or for that matter, how anaphora works in general.  Maybe it's a case by case basis.  In any case, this poem repeats certain phrases like "I shall die in Paris" and "Thursday."  And, for a poem like this, does the anaphora or repetition serve any other purpose than to add to the psychology of the poem.

Past me wrote, "Repetition of the day creates a desire -- this has to happen on this day."  What has to happen?  "I shall die in Paris."  In the first stanza the phrase repeats in line one and four.  And there's a sense of humor about the line when the speaker's feeling about the situation comes in, "it does not bother me"

Also in the first stanza is the specific introduction of the day, "Thursday."  The name of the day repeats in the same line, and in all three stanzas.  Yes, there's a certain sense of psychosis with the specificity of dying and the specific day to die; however, note the way is not specified to this extreme?  Why?

The focus is on the person who dies, not on how they die, or the act of death at all.  But there's so little known about the person.  Well, the name in stanza 3 "Cesar Vallejo" is specific, but in what way?  A name in a poem, or in any poem, creates this weird sense of reality within a bubble.

I'm not writing that poetry is escapism or an art where there has to be a sense of disbelief, but rarely are names in a poem -- and especially the authors name ("Dante" is the only other I recall at the moment).  With the name in place, "Cesar Vallejo" plus his sense of repetition that brings a sense of paranoia and description.  The poem reads as a self-fulfilling prophecy in this aspect.

But who kills Cesar Vallejo? There's a brief mention of "shoulders to the evil" in stanza 2, but there's further description of the "evil" in stanza 3 -- "They struck him, / All of them, though he did nothing to them. / They hit him hard with a stick and hard also / With the end of a rope."

The anonymity of the "they" brings a mob mentality, but victimizes "Cesar Vallejo" especially with the line "he did nothing to them."  And through the victimization of "Cesar Vallejo"  the last lines punctuate a sense of superficial/but realistic causes through the eyes of the witnesses that do nothing, "Witnesses are: the Thursdays, / The shoulder bones, the loneliness, the rain, and the roads..."

Now, I call these causes of Cesar Vallejo's death because of the structure.  Superficial in a sense that there's nothing more to the labeling except for the labeling in which the witnesses that do nothing are still responsible.

 "Thursdays" the day that repeats itself in the mind of "Cesar Vallejo."  "Shoulder bones," maybe a responsibility (physically and mentally) unable to be carried, "loneliness" the aftereffect of psychological trauma, "the rain" kind of cliche that brings a sense of atmosphere, "the roads" leading to where?  Where?

Analysis of "Meeting and Passing" by Robert Frost

Original poem reprinted online here: "Meeting and Passing" by Robert Frost
Originally read: March 26, 2013
More information about the Poet: Robert Frost







Elizabethan Sonnet.  Narrative.

Do we have those things out of the way?  I point these out in the beginning because what constructs the poem is usually what people look for, what people expect.  And, yes, the poem follows the expectations of a sonnet, and, actually, a narrative (there's a "conflict").  Yet, with this poem, as the title foreshadows )"Meeting and Passing" -- there's a sense of expectation that hasn't been fulfilled -- a missed opportunity.

The colloquial tone in the first three lines sets up an exposition.  The "I" character  is walking along a wall.  The "I" character leaning on wall to get a better view.  And, unexpectedly (to the scene, but expected by the reader), "I first saw you."

Here's the trick in this part of the poem.  The "exposition" in the poem mostly focuses on the "I" and what he/she sees.  The "you" in the poem, no matter the importance, will act mostly like scenery in the poem used to explain the speakers outlook on "meeting and passing."  Furthermore, the more conceptual the "you" is, then the more of a projection the speaker creates, then the more didactic the narrative becomes (yes, I'm claiming that this poem may edge along the lines of a fable).

But, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.  The description of what they did is pretty general -- "mingle [about things] great and small."  At least it fits with the rhyme.  

Here's a line that I don't understand, "Footprints in summer dust as if we drew / The figure of our being less than two / But more than one as yet." This line feels didactic with that whole sort of two into one thing (almost there).  However, it's not about the content of the line here, rather the perspective.  This line comes from the speaker's head with the expectation of connection.  That there could be a connection but not really being explained in a confusing way.  Here is where I see what the speaker wants -- well, something more.

Then there's the description of the "you" with a parasol -- which identifies the "you" as a woman who ends up doing this: "Something down there to smile at in the dust."  So there's an intimate moment observed by the speaker.  Could she be smiling out of shyness?  Could this be a fabrication by the speaker to set up the epiphany in the last line.  Yes.


The us of the parenthetical on the next line is interesting.  Here the speaker goes further internal, but more so, announces that the "I" is going internal for the reader to take note.  "(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)."  That exclamation point!  Anyway, I see this as the speaker, the "I" wanting the motions of the "we" to be influenced by him.  Yes, point to that spot because of me, turn away because of me, smile because of me.

The last two lines play with the rhyme (well rhyming "passed" together is a little, yeah), "Afterward I went past what you had passed / Before we met, and you what I had passed"  So here, with all the repetition play (past/passed) and the mindset of the speaker focusing on the scene -- the speaker is stuck in the past (mentally) wanting to recapture the moment of "you" and place, but the poem ends here.

So I pointed out that too much general description may lead up to a didactic end.  I think this is the case here.  The whole idea of not letting this pass by is here, but, me being me, the psychosis of nostalgia intrigues me here.  Probably not what Frost intended.  Design, design.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Analysis of "Eve's Design" by Moira Linehan

Original poem reprinted online here: "Eve's Design" by Moira Linehan
Originally read: March 25, 2013
More information about the Poet: Moira Linehan






This poem is a pretty interesting narrative.  The opening starts out with the background, "Then there's the Yemeni legend of Eve [...]" which shows the location of thought.  Also, the opening line decentralizes a heavy religious context by focusing on the "legend" aspect rather than a purely reinterpretation stance or the speaker "attempts" to take her opinion or bias out of the poem and is instead writing "a tale?"

But why rewrite a tale into a poem? I have some ideas, but ultimately, poetry is defined through audience discretion. 

From the beginning the narrative continues with Eve knitting a pattern on the snake's back, who is unfinished in the creation phase (well, this summary is not that great, since it's word for word on the page).  I guess the poetic element comes with these lines

"[...[the first woman
thinking to add design, a sheath
of interlocking diamonds and stripes
along that sensuous S"

So with this line, the focus is on "the first woman" rather than "Eve."  Both mean the same thing, but note that since the words "first woman" are pretty loaded towards seeing the action by a woman versus seeing the action done by the character of a woman.  And the actions are accentuated with the "S" alliteration.  Past me circled the words on this page.  What does the alliteration add to the poem?  Well, the alliteration could strengthen the correlation between the snake (mid-creation) versus the first woman (creator). 

The next line also reinforces the whole connection with, "her time to learn / what's infinitely possible / with a few stitches."  Past me wrote, "'infinitely possible'" under her own power to create - art-design take a godlike position" which is confirmed with "plan to mirror the divine."    So the "first woman" has added importance with each line; however, the importance is internal -- knowledge, "inner layer that can't be shed / no matter what it rubs up against."

For the last lines, past me wrote, "obstacles in the way.  rub--design doesn't wear off but is skin -- [design] integrates with the self."

I also want to note that this poem is only one sentence.  And also, that since the poem is prefaced as a "Yemeni Legend" the assumption that this part of the tale is done.  Or rather, the focus of the tale ends here regardless of what happens next.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Analysis of "Cahoots" by Carl Sandburg

Original poem reprinted online here: "Cahoots" by Carl Sandburg
Originally read: March 24, 2013
More information about the Poet: Carl Sandburg






"Noir feel"  that's the first note I put on this poem; however, I didn't realize something until now.  The noir (hardboiled) genre didn't become popular until the 1920s.  I've been looking everywhere on when the poem was created or published, but nothing there.  So I have to assume this -- that this poem harkens to that time frame or is a commentary about reproduction of the 1920s.

Or maybe I shouldn't make that assumption, in any case, the voice of the poem fits with my ideal version of what the time frame felt like through content, voice, and tone.

"Play it across the table. / What if we steal this city blind?"  For me, there's a sense of nothing to lose here, because everything is lost.  It's an optimistic viewpoint in a Dystopian society -- which is the core of the hardboiled genre, or maybe the core of how to survive the 1920's.

"If they want any thing let 'em nail it down."  Brash.  I'm writing about the use of "'em" as a shortner for "them."  The language, the voice of the poem, is starting to become narrower to something specific.

Then the set of rhetorical questions in the second stanza -- there's nicknames used like, "bulls, dicks" in which they are all in "cahoots."  Note how their nicknames are in together -- is it the front or the real?  It's kind of weird in the noir genre because the nickname is the real intent of the person; meanwhile, the real name and life is just a front -- usually most of the time.  The other rhetorical question "what's to hinder?" reinforces the point I had in the beginning -- all these different types of people are banding together with nothing to lose -- so let's steal something/do a crime.

I fine the start of the thirst stanza curious -- "Go fifty-fifty." Past me wrote, "command -- sounds like the speaker is in 'cahoots' with the audience."  I agree with the command part, but I'm going to expand upon the audience part.  Since this is written in as a  poem, the audience is voyeurs to this -- we are the outsiders looking in.  Yes, readers will cast judgement on this poem; however, the actual tone and voice of the poem deals more with a proposition with multiple ways to be "free" if you are caught, "Fix it, you gazump, you slant-head, fix it.  Feed 'em . . . ."  Bribery.  Also by insulting the "you" with weird names, adds more to the sense of the time, superiority (no matter how minor), and, I think, something more personal since they are not common insults.

The last stanza focuses on the "I" who goes symbolic with the idea of "mittens."  For the speaker, nothing "sticks" to him.  But then the speaker goes outwards and states that their is not law to wear mittens.  Then the last line, "There oughta be a law everybody wear mittens."  And the joke last line where the "criminals" are asking for a law (in which they would abuse -- presumably), and the symbol of the mittens solidifies that this poem is more of a critique of the representation of the period rather than a period piece.

No the poem isn't about how people survived during a time.  The poem, to me, is more of how people were perceived during the time.

Analysis of "A Road in the Sky" by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Road in the Sky" by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers
Originally read: March 23, 2013
More information about the Poet: Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers





I lagged to write an analysis here.  I do have notes on the page, but I feel I'm missing something -- something that google cannot find.  I searched "A Road in the Sky,"  I searched "Ithaca, NY" and I was trying to find a connection, or something that can tell me more about the other in this poem the "we."

I harp a lot on ambiguous pronouns and how an unknown "I" or "other" (we, us) can make or break a poem.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  The poem is structured somewhat like a narrative with a sense of exposition, a sense of character development, a climax -- but an end?

The poem is structured in couplets with individual lines.  So there's a sense of forced emphasis on the parts with one line.

But first the exposition.  There's a description of "A Road to in the Sky" with the first line, "It wouldn't be held / this notion."  The description does go back to the title but also goes to "this notion" -- both are pretty ambiguous concepts to go into the poem (which is probably the core of the poem).  The description then turns to one of nature "spring park," "spilled vines," "cloud and gaze"  "lush and snow" and I find this description generic but confusing in the sense that I don't know if this is referring to "A Road in the Sky" or "the notion."  But the ambiance is pretty clear --  the type of nature that brings thought.

And a sense of togetherness, perhaps.  Then comes the singular line with "But we were warm."  And here is why I was so hesitant about analyzing this poem until I understood who the "we" represents.  There's so much weight on the other that I'm not sure if the "we" concerns an actual person.

Well, duh, right?  "We" usually refers to a person and there's human modifiers in the poem that state so.  But those are modifiers, and concepts can be personified.  So I guess I'll try to explain my confusion.

After the line, the description once again goes back to nature, "still on / our back, where winter grass questioned / the margins of skin" I do like how the nature becomes more personified, but why question the skin?  Is this a romantic line (in many senses) and to what.

"I am the screen, she said, on which / you throw your passion."  So there's the indicator of gender, and a tone of desire.  I wonder because the further I go into the poem, the more I feel that everything around is a projection -- something self-aware, "as if I'd rendered her."  And even though I didn't quote the whole line, the break here emphasizes the point of a sense of projection.

The next lines loses the imagistic senses and become more, well, more conceptual, "reflection : narcissus" "let my hand / be the bearing / towards -- visible, or not--whatever cyan"  "a blinking jet / traced an axis above us."  And the rhetoric goes upward, but I don't know why.  I don't feel that there was a clear transition for me to follow.  Even past me had to grasp on straws like, "reminiscent of Paridiso -- Dante, other women Beatrice. 

Half of the poem is more imagistic towards nature, the other half has rhetoric that leads to an upward bound -- both come together with the idea of "the pilot's / daughter: cut the veil"  The poem, for me is veiled on actualizing something, and more of a play of images and rhetoric.

I would be fine with that.  I would look at this poem for the best rhetoric or images, and I wouldn't feel I'm missing out.  But then that passion, the rendition of the other comes back at the end lines, "This was the map: my willing / mouth parted, tasting wild / yonder, her hair's bitter oat."  And then there is the conceptual but I'm sensing there's more to the other and I don't know how to take it.  I hoped time would help me see the poem in a different less allusive light (past me wrote this about the last lines, "The description of the hair as 'bitter oat' brings a down to earth element.  Also Persephone"

I was grasping then as I am now, but I know I chose this poem because  I wanted to know more about the concrete things -- I have found nothing on my end.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Analysis of "The Illiterate in New Mexico" by Gary Fincke

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Illiterate in New Mexico" by Gary Fincke
Originally read: March 22, 2013
More information about the Poet: Gary Fincke






A story within a narrative.  A conflicting point of view of success and failure.  I know I'm starting out pretty fragmented, but this is probably the main technique in the first stanza of this poem -- fragments of a dual narrative, and perspective trying to reconcile.  So here's the two perspective -- the son, the father.  The focus of the son is failure in calculus (the lower case of calculus versus the capitalized version -- math versus Math -- theory versus Theory).

I've spent too much space on the overall when the first stanza is about something more intimate.  The father, in a way, tries to be consoling with an anecdote of his own "The story of how Janitors were hired / in Almogordo, New Mexico."  However, since the perspective of the poem is written in the first.  The "I," the story, and the conversation come to a head with the dialogue in the bottom of the first stanza.

The lines of focus and dialogue blur, "'F,' he hurled, 'is your failure,' and I said"  There's a mix of intention ("hurled" not a very consoling verb) and the interruption of the "I" then saying "atomic bomb" after the discussion, until finally the focus going to the title, "'If you couldn't read a word, you were hired, / An illiterate in New Mexico.'"

There a sense of confusion at the end of the first stanza; however, note the value of worth is pretty clear in the first stanza.  Being able to work is a success for a father, that even an illiterate finds a place; meanwhile, the son focuses on failure on a higher level -- not passing a class.  Maybe it's a generational issue (in many ways, academia versus work, scientist versus janitor), but I'm more invested in the father, who tries, versus the son who sulks.

In the second stanza, there's a bit of a diffusion of the situation where the speaker can think about the situation.  The speaker punctuates his failure with thoughts of his future, "And was supposed to become a doctor,  Not clean up after their accomplishments / Somebody who'd never know their secrets."  The more the speaker thinks of his failure, the more the second narrative becomes fleshed out not plot wise, but what the speaker truly doesn't want.  The speaker sees himself as someone who equates not understanding calculus as an inability to understand what's going on, and understand success, "A failure sweeping up in ignorance."  A little hyperbolic?  Well this type of sentiment fits with the character -- which, oddly, seems pretty static for a narrative up to this point -- foreshadowing a change, perhaps, in the third stanza.

After the moping internal second stanza, there's the dialogue(?) moreso monologue of the father which is the more dynamic of the two characters.  In the monologue, the father just focuses on action -- the scientist destroy the world while the janitors emptied trash.  No emotional context, no judgement -- just current action versus future ambition.  Even the father is able to calculate a simple tip.  The father tries to console the son in the first stanza, and in the last action of the poem, the father leaves the grades behind.

Yet, in the sentiment of the son, the actual present son is stewing on  the meaning behind the janitor, "I was as helpless as / The illiterate in New Mexico."  These lines are interesting due to the specificity of "the illiterate" and the judgement of "helpless."  There's a difference of values.

Where the father sees the actions there's no judgement.  The son, on the other hand, sees the inability to destroy the world as helpless -- reinforcing a more black and white emotional standpoint.

Analysis of "Elegy" by Jaswinder Bolina

Original poem reprinted online here: "Elegy" by Jaswinder Bolina
Originally read: March 22, 2013
More information about the Poet: Jaswinder Bolina


Past me wrote a lot about the usage of "image" in this poem, and how there's an interplay between the projected image, and the "now" image.  But first, the first line irritates me a whole lot, "In sun the sunburned skin sloughs off the sunburned shoulder."  I think it's the over alliteration and the repetition that does irritates me where, sonically, the adjectives, nouns, and verbs just mesh with eachother.

Then I realized, well, maybe this is the risky entry into the poem -- that the first line of the "Elegy" is meant to be blurred and distorted through meaning and sound because the poem isn't about the "body" (a mess of sorts falling apart according to the first line), but about how someone interprets the body.

So there's the second line, "Most folks believe this is the body's slow mend," and the repetition (with space) of "Most folks believe in the good yolk of the soul" and I should talk the "yolk" line in humor, but I don't.  I feel the word "soul" and "body" set up a sort of play between definition and meaning.  Not exactly spiritual, but leading to a redefinition.

The third stanza delivers a jagged perspective and centralizes the images with, "I believe in autopsy lingo of natural causes should be replaced" and here, for a line, there's something tangible here because (as past me points out) here is the introduction of the "I" speaker, and discussion of something not metaphysical. 

Then the redefinition happens on the next line, "with of long-term exposure to the dim, unwavering radiation of the morning star."  Past me wrote, "replacing [the replacement of the general of natural causes] ambiguous terms with specific (purply) language -- purpose? importance? joke?"  And, for me now, I don't see the line completely as a joke, rather an escape mechanism.  I think purple prose, at least in this case, is avoiding the actual ambiguous unknown aspect of death and instead replacing the terms with flowery terminology that builds up a sense of importance -- and the poem vacillates between both types of rhetoric.

The abruptness of "The evening they burn your body," is so sharp when juxtaposed against the previous line because of the plain matter of fact description, but then there's the long purply lines afterwords about what the speaker does, "arrange the crooked line of birdbaths to skip stones across / until the bell tower tolls its eight arguments against daylight"  The image of the line is really vivid and the allusion to Donne (prehaps Hemingway) is kind of forced in, but fits in the overall scheme of the poem.

And with the mention of the poem as a simile to the actions of the speaker dealing with a cremation "like a poem turned on its side."  Past me wrote, "overly-examined?"  Current me thinks, over examining what?  The speaker, the death, the situation?  There's an added quality of self-awareness to the poem which was built up within the poem -- it's the  type of self-awareness where the speaker is trying to figure out a way to deal with the situation, language as a tool as escapism through redefintion, linguistic acrobatics, simple language, but then the speaker can't escape the reality.

"The evening they burn your body"  and this repetition is haunting which goes along with what the speaker is envisioning of the "you" greeting the speaker in the living room or the projection of the "you" in a movie.

But then the realization, which is terse, isn't as much heartbreaking or ephiphanic, rather like a quick deep sigh, "You don't exist."

And with the short line of "You're on fire" brings the situation and speaker to the present with no frills or anything, but at the same token not forward momentum.  It is in the moment.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Analysis of "Vacant Lot with Pokeweed" by Amy Clampitt

Original poem reprinted online here: "Vacant Lot with Pokeweed" by Amy Clampitt
Originally read: March 21, 2013
More information about the Poet: Amy Clampitt


The poem is in four cinquains which has the effect of the first half focusing on one aspect, and the second half focusing on the other.  The cinquain adds a sense of progression, that there is a middle.  Yet, how the poem starts out, there is a focus on one thing -- the pokeweed.

In the first stanza there's focus on description of the vacant lot with adjectives like, "low- / life beach-blond scruff of couch grass."  Sonically, the description is terse, and although not separated by periods, they are separated by punctuation like a dash here, or a comma there.  I feel the terseness shows a physical representation of the lot not only threw language but by sound as well.  At least, at this point, the picture isn't pleasant.

The line that starts off the second stanza, which is the continuation of "interglinting dregs" is "of wholesale upheaval and / dismemberment,"  I find this line pushing the description too far as though to emphasize that, of course, the vacant lot is meant to be symbolic which I got from the first stanza.  The breakaway is interesting where the focus changes from they symbolic to the naming of the actual plants that grow there, "dilanthus"  Past me probably looked this up wrong said it was "Ailanthus -- tree of heaven, weed?"  I do want to point out that this is me probably overreaching to keep pace with the symbolism -- like I want to know the symbol now so I can move on.

The symbol of the pokeweed pops up in the third stanza and it's more of a stationary image that contrasts the only human figure of the poem, "seed / dropped by some vagrant."  Here, the vagrant is an anonymous being; meanwhile, the pokeweed and the dilanthus are named beings.  This brings in the idea of the sublime (human actions, although influential, are small in comparison to the awe of nature).  Nature in which is described in grandiose terms, "the magenta- / girdered bower, gazebo twirls / of blossom "

The description of the pokewood is more fluid to me.  Yes, there are some terse language.  I think it's the lack of alliteration or the fact that there's a little more space in between descriptions.  In either case, the description and symbol of the pokeweed becomes over inflated to the point of savior who "may salvage from / the season's frittering, / the annual wreckage."  And, usually, the overboard symbolism along with an overly symbolic end would be too much -- but here I'm intrigued with the "annual wreckage."  Does the "annual wreckage" refer to seasons, or time frame cleaning, or maybe the vagrant and plants who move on from meaning.  

Analysis of "Fiction" by Lisel Mueller

Original poem reprinted online here: "Fiction" by Lisel Mueller
Originally read: March 20, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Lisel Mueller







Here's what past me wrote at the end of the poem, "maybe bibliophile, maybe relationship, I don't know about meta-narrative though."  And past me came to this conclusion through the title "Fiction."  And although there could be multiple ways to address "Fiction,"  like a definition poem, or a description of someone's life, here I felt the poem went towards tmeta-fiction, or the art of writing fiction.

But the poem starts off with a direction "Going south," and along with a direction, there is a collective voice of "we."  Yes, this is the time I question who the "we" is, but here I'm shifting my decision towards the title -- "Fiction" and the concept of fiction because of the simile, "unroll like a proper nove:"

And here the assumption for me as a reader is that there will be a list of characters, techniques, scenes that would at least equate to a certain direction (even if my initial guess at the time and now is wrong).  But here's the list, "forsythia, dogwood, rose; bare trees, green lace, full shade."  Past me wrote, "I feel this list doesn't make the poem meta-narrative -- perhaps I took "proper novel" too deeply.

This is true, however, I cannot let the list go.  I want to have the items on the list create connection to novels I should know.  Maybe like Gone With The Wind or what not --  but I think this is the trick behind the poem.  Regardless, if there is meaning behind each image, there's a progression made that is maybe undecipherable to the reader, but understood by the speaker with a line like, "By the time we arrived in Georgia / the complications were deep."  The list and the situation show a sense of complication defined by a personal code in a sense.

The situation is, forcefully, flipped in the next stanza where, on the way back, "we read back to front" and then the images above are described in a different ways backward.

" [...] Maroon went wild,
went scarlet, burned once more
and then withdrew into pink,
tentative, still a bud."

With this list there's more of a scene, more of an action of movement that I can see as a reader, but cannot make the connections.  And at this point, I don't need the connections or understand the allusions, rather the contrasting sequences is pretty fascinating.  The couple at the end though, "I thought if only we could go on / and meet again, shy as strangers" is a bit sentimental, I find it a better end that if it ended with "still in bud" which would make the poem a nature fluff piece.

Rather the interesting line here is "shy as strangers" which could reinterpret the poem as a poem about a relationship (human relationship) or keep the whole idea of meta-fiction, where the sequence is known when done reading, but the interpretation of the sequence is done trying to connect the actions together.  I'm probably looking at this poem too deeply.

Analysis of "The Lamb" by William Blake

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Lamb" by William Blake
Originally read: March 20, 2013
More information about the Poet:  William Blake


As promised long ago, this poem is a companion piece to "The Tyger" by William Blake.  Here's my "analysis" of "The Tyger" here.   Why the quotes around analysis?  Because the poem has been explicated to death by Academia, and so, what is there to add to an analysis of this poem?  Instead I listed different types of analysis and how each image, symbol, line, theme, idea, etc. is looked through from the lens of certain critiques.

For, "The Tyger"  I looked at the poem through: Marxist Criticism, Structuralist Criticism, and Atheist Criticism (not really a criticism, but looking at the poem through at an objective [not scientific] lens).  So, conveniently, I should look at this poem and the connections through opposite means.

Note, the notes I wrote about "The Tyger" still apply and greatly determines how I read this poem:

1) This poem is found in "The Song of Innocence" which sets up a sense of time, distance, age to the poems in the collection.  This implication is relied heavily on for analysis.

2) The poem is a companion poem.  It's companion is "The Lamb" which is found in "The Song of Innocence" which indicates a contrast through the distance of separate poems rather than stanzas or within the same book even.  This implication is also heavily reliled on.


I hesitated on writing a couple of interpretations on this poem (2 days this has been up).  Why?  Because literary criticism all leads to the same place, one side has the power, the other doesn't.  So here's what I'm going to do just so I can write.  I'm going to do the opposite. 

This analysis, instead of being objective, will be completely subjective (or at least admit that this particular analysis cannot be completely objective).  No, this isn't reader response, but hopefully, this will jump start my writer's block (I'm behind in posts to be equal to one a day).

The Lamb

As the poem goes on the repetition brings a sense of questioning, not specifically to the reader, but to the lamb itself:

1) Who gave thee life?
2) Who gave thee clothing of delight?
3) Who gave thee such a tender voice?

Weakness?  Luxury? Decadence?  No, this is weighted judgments.  The repetition and the one sidedness of the lines make me want to see the cynicism -- to correlate the lines to the "Tyger" and say "Aha, these lines show that the Lamb is symbol of the weak and the decadent.

No.  Enough.  The speaker, like in the "Tyger," is the driving force behind the rhetorical question.  The subject, "The Lamb" and "The Tyger" are just conduits for these questions.  It's the only safe route if questioning the divine.

For example, instead of being accusatory "You did this."  The poem takes the direction of "Someone did this, and I'm going to give descriptions on who."

So when the speaker turns to a descriptive label to who, "he calls himself a lamb" "he became a little child" -- these are allusions to Catholicism with Jesus.  Then there's a shift of image Lamb = God, in a sense and wit the last lines repeating themselves "Little Lamb God bless thee. / Little Lamb God bless thee."  Makes me wonder who needs to be blessed?  The Lamb God, the Lamb, or the God?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Analysis of "I Remember the Look of My Ex-Wife Sitting Quietly in the Window on a Certain Day" by Albert Goldbarth

Original poem reprinted online here: "I Remember the Look of My Ex-Wife Sitting Quietly in the Window on a Certain Day" by Albert Goldbarth
Originally read: March 19, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Albert Goldbarth




The poem kind of tricks the reader, but in a sterile, and interesting, kind of way. 

The title of the poem brings in a sense of the personal -- even sentimental.  The focus of the title being about the reflection of the ex-wife in the window, but not actually the ex-wife herself by having the prepositional phrase "in."  Now, why do I bring up such a small detail.  Well, this poem is all about details and how they are arranged.  Like the first detail which is the epigraph by Sharon Waxman about how Nefertiti's looks, then the definition of the word "Nerfertiti means 'The Beautiful One Has Come"  as though to corroborate the visual with the language.

And here, I assume that there's going to be a comparison between Nefertiti and the "Look of [the] Ex-Wife."  But the tone of the poem continues as though encyclopedic.  The second stanza describes the rendition of her, more importantly when it was made, 1340 BC.

The issue with time continues with the next lines, "and having survived the subsequent era's / destruction of most of the other sculptural references to her -- /  essentially, the destruction of her sisters --"  These line cut in different ways.  The Encyclopedic tone of the lines shows the distance the speaker wants to have with the subject; furthermore, the "destruction of her sisters" is an interesting concept -- this literally refers to the multiple drafts of the same bust; however, the word "sisters" holds multiple meanings, all of them personal.  Essentially, it's a hiccup in tone that could go either way.

Then we go back to time, "she was excavated in 1912" and ownership is challenged.  In this stanza is a grammatical error which I feel works here, "by Egypt Britain France and Germany."  Past me wrote, "different identities shifted together without the commas."  To follow up with this assessment, that the grammatical error is another hiccup in the tone.  With the lack of commas, I see that want is want no matter the nation, "the demanding of ownership" also reflects historical references.  Nefertiti in the past ("beloved" by her people), and the Nefertiti bust that nations wanted.

In which Germany won out and put on display in 1923 (according to the fifth stanza).  And the "international arguing" takes a more serious turn with the "Hitler war machine."  And although the history, and the encyclopedic knowledge of the poem is there -- my mind goes back to Nefertiti and goes back to the Ex-wife?  Why?  Well, for me, the discussion of World War II is just that, a discussion -- but the very core of this discussion is bust -- Nefertiti -- and how the image of her is compared to by the war.

And of course, the allegory is more fleshed out and then I start to wonder what the "Hitler war machine" meant to the relationship or how "tanks and missiles and gas chambers" relate to the relationship.  A bit hyperbolic (okay really, the end of a relationship = World War II), but in any case the allegory stands out at this point.

Then the time frame once again, "and in 1939" which brings up an image ends up hiding and distorted.  What is left hiding in the cave? "her one good eye with the inlaid iris / and the one that had left the workshop blank / so many thousand years before."

The repetition of "salt" is interesting.  Past me wrote:

"[the repetition is] dependent heavily on the multiple definitions and connotations of salt; furthermore, the repetition adds more importance: 

*Why salt
*Why separate but listed together like the line above using contries
*Maybe all the definitions"


Presently, I would agree if the ending line didn't exist. What the ending line does is narrow in the definition of salt and sentiment.  Automatically, salt, after reading the end refers to, "all of the stuff of weeping / and not one tear" the tear (or the lack of).  The image works double with tears being the expectation, but falling and the salt referencing the actual place, a salt mine, that's holding.  Hmm, another way to put this. 

The word "tear" elicits sentimentality -- that there should be an emotional flow here, but what of the foundation?  The bust? No it's a projected object.  The countries?  Through synecdoche perhaps.  The speaker? This is the time where the speaker breaks from the descriptive tone and passes judgment.

The scene, the bust, the countries should weep -- but they don't, it's the outside that weeps.  Still doesn't make sense...umm...well then.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Analysis of "The Gods are in the Valley" by Dana Levin

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Gods are in the Valley" by Dana Levin
Originally read: March 19, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Dana Levin






The conceit of this poem is the first line, "The mind sports god-extensions"  and the rest of the poem deals with the idea of "god-extensions" or finding the spiritual, looking for the spiritual, how the spiritual appears, and the basic structure of the search.

And with the form of the poem the way it is, then the most left adjusted lines represent the point and the flow happens from the left adjusted line.  For example.  "It's a mountain from which [the left adjusted line] / the tributaries of spring: self, self, self, self-- [indent]"  Although just a small representation, there's an interplay of the point and how the point goes and is formed.  

Like the idea of the self being describes through repetition as thought repeating creates meaning.  The poem is like going towards an answer (spirituality) in a very round about way. 

Yet there is a narrative component to this poem.  There's the "paleolithic shaman: who addresses the "you" or the speaker, ""Your business, his flaming head suggest, / is with your thought-machine" This is where I think the poem is more comical than the traditional spiritual journey -- the language has a very pop culture/coin-a-term quality to it.

Yes, the search and the connections are important, but how important?  "Lord Should and Not-Enough, M / Mute the Gigantor."  Past me wrote down "Robo."  And this might be me being biased with my past, but Gigantor is a robot from an anime series.  There could be a connection I don't see, or there's some allusion I don't know, but this is the place where I couldn't take the poem serious anymore; however, I was enthralled with the illusory tactic of this poem that I kept on going.

For example line's like these, "Deadalive Mom-n-Dad (in the sarcophagi / of parentheses / you've placed them)--"  The connection and disconnect of words like "Deadalive" and "Mom-n-Dad" followed by the self-awareness of the parenthetical is interesting  because there's a show of the technique as thought to say that "technique" does demonstrate the point and shows off on the page, but at this point, all the meaning behind the words and the allusions lose their weight for me.

And so does the narrative aspect of the poem where the "yogi" continues to give advice like, "We're animals that shit out / consciousness, is another."  Again I like the technique of t he split between lines to create an ambiguous fragmented sentence as though the speaker is trying to understand the information; however, "shit out consciousnesses" fits with the language of the poem, but not the content.

I'm not expecting reverence, and I could understand if this poem is a riff on the spiritual journey, but with lines like, "Mind's and accident / of bio-wiring, is one line of thinking" which connects technique, language and structure together to question and point out spirituality.  Or even this line, "You must understand yourself / as projected vapor."  It's an interesting image that points out the technique (projections of the spiritual), and the way of thinking.

The last line brings me out of it again, "Thus achieve your /superpower."  Cliche superhero movie?  Humorous in the context as riff on a shaman. 

The poem doesn't commit to one side or the other, seriously looking at the journey, or a riff on the spiritual journey.  I would've liked more focus on either or because the techniques of line breaks and spacing works well to achieve one or the other.  Both at the same time doesn't work for me.

Analysis of "Fear" and "Note Slipped under a Door" by Charles Simic

Original poem reprinted online here: "Fear" and "Note Slipped under a Door" by Charles Simic
Originally read: March 18, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Charles Simic






So Poetry Daily does this sometimes -- put up two poems up by the same author.  I found things interesting with both.  In "Fear" it  is the way the speaker sets up the a comparison .  In "Note Slipped under a Door" it is how the speaker uses anaphora and observation to confirm multiple but "separate" images.

"Fear"

The first thing of note is how the metaphor works in the first stanza.  Yes, the metaphor applies to "fear" as a concept, but the undertone here is the idea of "unknowing"  how the concept transfers like how a leaf passes its "shudder" to another.

So this unknowing fear fear, compared to with a natural occurrence, works as a synecdoche as the final two lines of the poem goes from leaf to tree, "All at once the whole tree is trembling / And there is no sign of the wind,"  The logical mind of me just simply states "duh, the wind."

However, this is a incomplete comparison.  The synecdoche works from leaf to tree, but does this also apply to man to humanity?  I think this is supposed to be assumed.   Past me wrote, "result = fear happens throughout even without cause."  Past me fell into these assumptions.

I guess the didactic part of this poem depends on the reader more than the speaker to complete the comparison.  As is, then the focus of the poem is on nature and how man is close to the same as nature.

"Note Slipped under a Door"

The anaphora of "I saw" continues throughout this poem as each image more surreal.  The images go like this:

1) "a high window struck blind / By the late afternoon sunlight."
A very domestic, straight to the point description

2)"a towel / With many dark fingerprints / Hanging in the kitchen"
More of the domestic but note the focus of the image is the "dark fingerprints" in the kitchen.  Why the focus there, because of the adjective and the visual overtaking the simple.

3) "an old apple tree / A shawl of wind over its shoulders / Inch its lonely way / Toward the barren hill"
Probably one of the more loaded lines with adjectives like "old," "lonely," "barren" -- all sterile and singular images -- or forcing the singular out of the image.  This reflects mostly on the speakers outset  with these images and foreshadows the speaker observing the self.

4) "an unmade bed / And felt the cold of its sheets."
Here the adjective "unmade" does a lot of work here.  The adjective adds an ambiance of loneliness and the tactile description of cold adds to that.  The images are still very specific and they are starting to turn towards the internal.

5) "a fly soaked in pitch / Of the coming night / Watching me because it couldn't get out"
The image of the fly trapped watching the speaker is kind of a riff on the whole conceit of the poem (the observation going  outward than internal).  The speaker here doesn't directly address that he is observing himself, but instead uses the persona and allusion of the fly to make the observation.  Also note, that the fly couldn't get out which brings a certain sense of a trapped loneliness.

6) "stones that had come / From a great purple distance / Huddle around the front door"
The images are specific, but I think they are surreal in the way of presentation.  Where did the stones come from? "Great purple distance"?  What are the stones doing? "Huddle around the front door."  Taking the stones as symbols as something "ornamental" but bland and/or meaningless, ties this poem into the feeling without bringing in cliche images, rather weird images to represent (note not state) the emotion.

Analysis of "Amidst The Flowers A Jug of Wine" by Li Po

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Amidst The Flowers A Jug of Wine" by Li Po
Originally read: March 17, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Li Po



Translations are hard to analyze.  Is the translator close to original text or not?  What is missed due to the transfer of language.  Regardless of bias or misinterpretation, I chose this poem because of how the images work -- they have qualities of persona, symbolism, and straight up Imagism, but they are explored and internalized to a certain degree where, I feel, the speaker, the moon, and the shadow have equal screen time, but different purposes.

Yes, in most Li Po poems there's something about being drunk.  And in some ways, the introduction of wine -- something that distorts reality when drunk to much, is needed to loosen the readers own perceptions, creating the "suspension of belief" when the speaker personifies the moon and his shadow.

And this is where the merge between image/symbolism come in, but not quite.  The speaker "invite[s] the moon" and "turn[s] to his shadow"  The images start off as just images that are at the request of the speaker.  Then the speaker gives some insight on each, but not in a symbolic (the moon represents a woman) way or a description ("the moon" or "the shadow" taking more of the focus) way.  More of, the description here that goes back to the scene of drinking, "The moon does not know how to drink." and "shadow merely follows the movement of my body."

It's as though the speaker sobers up a second and understands that the images are of his own concoction and how silly it is to conjure up the images to make him not as lonely.  But then here comes this line, "The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while."  Literally, yes, the moon creates a shadow, and yes, there's the addition (illusion) of company.  However, there's sentiment in the line that isn't sentiment -- not as clear cut -- like the shadow should mean something more but doesn't since the speaker points out the meaning.   And when the meaning is pointed out, the only focus i the action.

Like in the these three lines, "I start a song and the moon begins to reel. / I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely /While I'm still conscious let's rejoice with one another."  Here there's the literal with the slight judgement of "grotesque" -- it's as if the speaker is observing his own scene while making the decisions.

The last three lines of the poem is differentiated with the first line setting the scene, "After I'm drunk let each one goes his way."  The scene is more in the drunken state, more in the suspension of disbelief -- but the speaker admits a sense of leaving (which has to come and go) and asks for promises for the moon and the shadow to meet again.  And here the idea of symbolism is high -- what does the shadow mean to the poem/speaker?  What does the moon mean to the poem/speaker?  Companionship?  How? Why? 

Yes, too many rhetorical questions, but the poem is Dionysian in the sense that the core of the poem happens in the moment, but the poem is not about the "mirth" (mentioned in the poem) of connections.  I feel the poem deals with the other side of the Dionysian in which to be joyous, there has to be a disconnect, a suspension of disbelief, the shrug of the real, in order to be drunk and be merry.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Analysis of "Gifts out of Dirty Weather" by Elton Glaser

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Gifts out of Dirty Weather" by Elton Glaser
Originally read: March 17, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Elton Glaser






I find the first two lines of the poem quite humorous, "At the mall, three dead weeks before Christmas, / Half the women are old and half are ancient."  And since the poem is written in couplets there's an emphasis on these stanza which is also endstopped.  What is the focus here?  For me, it's the play on expectation.  First, "three dead weeks before Christmas" shows a certain change of perspective.  Working in retail for a while, three weeks before Christmas is the busiest -- shallow materialistically.  But the focus on the speaker is women who are old or ancient -- shallow physicality.  So the poem with the first two couplets set up a tone of cynicism, humor on an observant level.

But then this type of cynicism and humor turns inward with next couplet with the introduction of the speaker "I" and what he/she specifically wants "drink." Stop here.  So in this context the humor follows along with someone who is drunk -- then the cynicism is punctuated into some philosophical rambling, right?  Wrong, me who likes to predict the direction of a poem through language.  The next line is actually pretty disarming and a bit pathetic, "Bland and warm, and a little butter for my bread."  Destitute, something -- anything to drink.  And so the shift in the poem trains me as a reader to expect, well, detours.

The next four lines are cohesive and talk about someplace "up here" and the detours are still there, but not as humorous, but more in the surreal vein.  There's the simle of comparing ice cracking to a knucklebone which is an auditory comparison, then there's a more tactile one (other than ice) with "a windblown paradise of dunes and hula trees" and so in these sections the images intermingle with each other even though they are slightly opposite and slightly surreal to create a picture of "Up here" (insert symbol here -- maybe Heavan, or Canada).

And through these images the speaker announces, "But I keep the cold / close to me."  The line break is kind of redundant -- what's stated after the break is basically the same as the above.  And I think, for me, I'm so used to looking for detours in this poem, I was expecting something else.  Well, "I take it naked into my bed."  Is more of a visual confusion -- what the cold represents I see, but naked -- my mind focuses on the speaker rather than the concept.  Maybe because I'm a bit perverted that way, but also there's the idea of "emotionally" naked which brings the poem to a sense of the sentiment that, if further explored, would be somewhat cringe-worthy for me.

But the poem makes another detour with the last three lines, "Above the fireplace, kings go down on their knees, / Rich gifts laid before the babe, when all he wants / Is his skinny mother, whose only  miracle is milk."  So the allusion to the birth of Jesus Christ -- something warm and wanting human things "miracle is milk" can be compared to the speaker who is, presumably, alone with the cold.  There's the current real with the conceptual feel (speaker) versus the conceptual wanting the real (baby Jesus).

Note, I didn't say role reversal -- none of that, more of expectations and what "gifts" are actually there -- a bag full of detours, misdirection, cynicism, sentimentality, and loneliness. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Analysis of "The Wife-Woman" by Anne Spencer

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The Wife-Woman" by Anne Spencer
Originally read: March 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Anne Spencer


For a poem that is so focused with the idea of seven, it's kind of ironic that the form is in octaves.  I hope I am using "ironic" correctly.  In any case the use of allusion punctuates the reoccurring number of seven and I feel this poem is an exercise that pushes the idea of allusion, numbers, stream-of-consciousness in more of a riff jazz style

Yes, I'm adding this in because I read that Anne Spencer was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  But the poem makes more sense to me with more context.  Such is the problem with historical context and allusion.  I do want to add though that the poem interested me enough to look up the allusions and see how they relate to one each other.

The poem starts off with the allusion to "Maker of Sevens in the scheme of things / From earth to star;"  Here there's a certain ambiguous nature behind the "Maker of Sevens."  Sure, the "Maker of Sevens" could refer to an omnipotent being, but also it could refer to man who created the seven wonders of the world, but the question is how.

Then there's the allusion to the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" with "Though rank and fierce the mariner / sailing the seven seas."  Well maybe not, but there's the chance that it could be.  Then there's the allusion of the Pleiades (Stars, or the seven sisters).  So there's a lot of stream-of-consciousness actions, but they don't add up to much as far as meaning in stanza one, but the connections range from celestial to man to celestial again.

The connections don't matter in stanza two; rather, I feel that the first stanza shows that the speaker is capable of bringing in allusion, and in stanza two undercuts them because, "I cannot love them" or rather there isn't an emotional appeal with only allusion alone for the speaker.  "I feel your glad,"  The line here feels like it was made on the spot to indicate a sense of empathy for the other (who happens to be dead" -- but from a distance, "Joy to you it gave." The other can feel, but the speaker cannot.

But then the number seven appears again with the line, "These seven links the Law compelled / For the human chain -- / I cannot love them; and you"  These lines haunt me in it's earnestness.  The you isn't well defined (like the Maker of sevens) but with every line the speaker creates distance, but then wants.  Usually, I would find this sentimental, but I feel the technique -- allusions and running theme of seven, take more of a hold, or rather is the focus, and little lines like these add perspective to the poem.

In the third stanza, there's a leap to the past -- and more of a focus of the title "The Wife-Woman."  Stanza one describes the other, stanza two describes the speaker, stanza three focuses on the core -- as in the past, "Sure and strong, mate for mate, such / Love as culture fears." Then the concept of love (not bringing in the emotion context to it) is examined.  If culture fears love, then what goes in it's stead, "I gave you clear the oil and wine; You saved me your hob and earth-- / See how even life may be ere,"  So there is a bit of an over emphasis of "even" but the speaker exchanges physical food, and the other "saved me your hob and earth--" or whatever is left over.  The idea of love being equal isn't good enough, the false sense of the other saving the speaker, however, ideal.

Note how I don't assign tropes on the speaker and the other (other than the Post-Colonial Criticism jargon) since the nouns are basically ambiguous, then, I feel, the reader can add any trope here and it would fit -- man/woman, black/white, old/young, gods/human, shadow/self, rich/poor.

The last stanza has more of a rumination quality to it, "But I can wait the seven of moons" and in doing so, "hoarding the heart's plenty" -- the speaker can wait, but grows number than before.  Then the last couplet, "Then gaily I reach up from my shroud, /.And you, glory-clad, reach down"  feels cynical to me.  The other has the capability to save the speaker who is in a "shroud" which is constructed by the same other trying to save the speaker.

The speaker isn't playing the victim card, rather pointing out discrepancies within tropes.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Analysis of "Broken Music" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Original poem reprinted online here: "Broken Music" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Originally read: March 15, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Dante Gabriel Rossetti



This is an Italian Sonnet.  I don't know why I have to point out form in the beginning of my analysis.  I think it's one of those literary technique I want to get out of the way first before going deep into content and other techniques.  Also, form is probably the first thing to see in a poem -- not really the words on the page, but the lines and the spaces.  This one is easy to decipher because the first stanza is eight lines, and the last stanza is six lines, and a quick scan shows a rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter.  I'm expecting a volta, and with the title like "Broken Music" I'm expecting some sort of sound or music in the poem.

Then why is there a question mark on the top of the page.  I remember reading this the first time and not finding the music -- not finding how things add up in the poem, as though something is missing.

In the first two lines of the poem the subject is introduced which is "the mother" who "will not turn," who "hears / her nursling's speech first grow articulate."  There's a relationship between mother and "nursling" (child I had to guess the first time).  There's an arrow pointed towards the title after reading the first two lines as thought to say this is the broken music, the sound of a child articulating. Perhaps.

If this is the case though the choppy description of the mother brings a discordance to the poem, "She sits, with open lips and open ears" Sonically is iambic, but not as smooth, as though her actions are disjointed -- at the very least fidgety for the sound "that may call her twice."

The narrative continues a little more ambiguously -- there's doubts and fears with the mother with, "Thus oft my soul has hearkened." And I don't know who the "I" or "my" refers to, but the focus then shifts (through a semi-colon) to the song where "sweet music welled and the sweet tears."

I'm assuming death -- that the soul and the tears both rose and this was the past.  The now is talked about in the volta.  There's an implied "you" which I think is the mother who is grieving "soul is fain" "The speech-bound sea-shell's low importunate strain."  This line is nice, but I have no idea how to take it -- the images are nicely structured, but the visual imagery doesn't match (the sonic one is a leap).

Then the real core of the poem appears with, "No breath of song, they voice alone is there."  Once something spoke in song, now is only a voice -- with no light or melody or step -- just something necessary -- which isn't the speaker's stye.

Note that the couplet is a judgement on the situation and the "mother,"  "O bitterly beloved! and all her gain / is but the pang of unpermitted prayer."  The speaker shows through the adjective a sense of his/her emotion toward the subject -- bitter (accusatory or description or bother), but then the focus shifts towards "the pang of unpermitted prayer"  that without the song there's only a voice unable to pray (contrary to what past me wrote down).  And as such there is a disconnect.

This analysis hinges on the implied loss of the child...I'm pretty sure I'm wrong about this.




Analysis of "In Vitebsk There Lives a Cow" by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Original poem reprinted online here: "In Vitebsk There Lives a Cow" by Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Originally read: March 14, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Nuala Ní Chonchúir


So this is an eckphrastic poem about the March Chagall painting "I and the Village."  I'm going to write down something I haven't done in a long time -- write my first impressions of the poem, what I wrote on the page:

- Male figure taking care of the cow
- Inside further in the painting, kind of humourous
- Peace through sound and pesence

And since there's three quatrains, I think I should explore each part that I previous wrote down and see if my mind has changed.

"Male figure taking care of the cow"

Again, there's a poem in which the first line is the title.   To keep the quatrain form, the writer did this -- also since the first line refers to the cow -- it's safe to assume that the cow will play a big role in the poem, at least the first stanza. 

There's a contradictory image in the first line "rolling eye is as loving as a mother's" because when I think of a rolling eye there's a sense of cynicism there; however, the rolling eye could also be one that looks around but never watches.

The introduction of the "I" comes in the second line, placing the speaker inside the painting as though reporting what's going on.  And the next two lines are pretty descriptive -- "breath straw and dung" (smell), "place cornmeal bread and potato scraps" (taste), "feel her spit drip onto my palms" (touch).  The speaker takes the time to set up different experiences within the painting. 

And rather than "taking care of" the cow or the "mother figure" the speaker is trying to create a mother figure through the simile.  Or maybe not and it's a throw away image within an image.

"Inside further in the painting, kind of humorous"

Not well written there.  In any case, I was wrong about the quatrains -- this is a tercet and I really didn't notice it until now.  I was forcing the form onto the poem. 

Rather than form, the focus here is the tactile -- the speaker places his/her cheek on her flanks  and hear her "four stomachs pluck a tune" -- and here I find the lines humorous because it's so surreal; however, in the context of the poem and the painting, there's the introduction of sound from within -- and the surreal humor of the line matches the type of cubist style (I know nothing of art) that the painting portrays.  I didn't look up Vitebsk lullaby, but here we go.  Vitebsk is a city in Belarus where Marc Chagall was from  and I think died there. 

So the humorous line was an allusion not only to the style of the poem, and content, it was also an allusive line to the life of Marc Chagall.

"Peace through sound and presence"

Shtibel a Jewish prayer, Hallelujah another Jewish saying that is transposed on to the speaker.  I think this goes after the lullaby -- that the song that keeps makes you asleep, the way to give thanks, and pray are all within the same scope, just different usage.

Then there's this part where "all the heads turn."  Whose heads?  I don't know, but there's a group of people watching the singular moment of a cow being milked by "Mama." 

Looking back, I presumed that the figure in stanza 1 is a male.  But what if it was a female?  I think this changes the context of the poem a little -- in the sense of tenderness, represented through calm, safe images, affects the speaker.  Now that I think about it -- no not really. 

The main female, the mama, and the cow, contrast the harsh lines, and disruptive curves in the painting.  Adding this tenderness is like emphasizing the a feeling (pastoral), that regardless of style, these traits do come through.


Analysis of "What the Dead Know" by Robert Polito

Original poem reprinted online here: "What the Dead Know" by Robert Polito
Originally read: March 13, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Robert Polito




The form of the poem interests me.  The poem starts out with a lot of white space and the line center adjusted, the next line left adjusted, and the poem continues to follow this pattern.  The pattern adds a sense of duality to the poem (yes, I write this a lot), but the type of duality that follows a pattern. 

The first stanza is where I had trouble at first because there's a lot of description, but they all refer to air.  Duh, right?  But the description of air is very complex because even though the focus should be air, the simile of. "Air here is like the water / Of an aquarium"  and so there comes a visual image of air as water which are conflicting images, but work because the description fits both air and water. 

For example "appearing cold (and clear) as spring streams / Fed by snow and ice."  Furthermore the description for the second part of the simile doesn't end there, but is added onto with more description that can describe, the air, the water, and the last comparative noun.  "Heavy as a crystal"  --> "as if to move here would mean pushing against a force," --> "As if, put on its slide, every drop is stocked with wonders."  Okay, so the last one not so much, but there's the idea that everything is connected through the image, and further development of those images applies to everything before it.

Then the poem turns towards the rhetoric, but this is the important turn in the poem, "Beautiful in a way / One element sustaining another our message brought home."  The poem points out the technique.  I've noticed this happening a lot in the poems I want to analyze.  So I think that pointing out  that what is written is a poem does bring a sense of ars poetica, however, in this case the inclusion of "our" in the line shows that the speaker is referring to something or someone else in the process which is "the dead" in this poem. 

Here the poem becomes a little sentimental with lines like, "Water without air or to speak of isolation, / or our special loneliness;" however, note the usage of "or" in this stanza.  I go back to he "coined" term of the either/or gambit here -- that the most weighted option is usual at the end; however, since all the options are stacked up here, there's a build up of the last option plus any description, idea, or image is amplified because of the rise of expectation -- which option has the most weight?  Is it the, "Or as they look right through us," humans taking the attributes of water and air.  Or maybe it's ,"Or that with each look / They are swimming to with our sights" the merge of image and persona.  Or perhaps the final or, "Or that we are always casting / Wider and wider / And that even now they are fighting to avoid our nets."  That the merge between image and persona isn't possible -- or at one side is avoiding the other -- death clear but distant from being persona, but close to be professional.

Anaysis of "Beautiful, The Dead End," by Allison Davis

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Beautiful, The Dead End," by Allison Davis
Originally read: March 12, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Allison Davis






The poem starts off with the title reading into the poem which has the poem focus in two similar directions: 1) focusing on the physical aspect (and commentary) 2) focusing on what the "body" is.  I think what also differs with the usual "title then poem" deal is that when the title is the first word of the poem that the poem's actual focus is somewhere else and the first line is meant to compliment the focus.

For example, the actual first line of the poem (which is in tercets) is "of your body.  So here, the focus is on the body and this is what the poem will be about; however, the main description is the main adjective -- the duality of beautiful, yet a dead end.

Meanwhile, the "body" accumulates different descriptions like "last shards of summer," and then the identifying feature of the body is the name -- Ohio.  This poem then goes into the realm of synecdoche through a state -- this type of rhetoric is used mostly in political speeches where the speaker is trying to rally a group of people together to show positive or negative aspects of the state and the speaker vacillates between.

The line "pushing each other / midwest of decency" works as a kind of pun in regards to placement and the idea of gauging something (if I'm not mistaken, Ohio is mideast).  The line above shows a sense of divergence between place and thought.

The rhetoric becomes stronger with each stanza, "toward failure" in stanza 3, "mud marked by heels," in stanza 4, "forced tameness" in stanza 5.  And here I'm thinking the poem has to be a satire on political rhetoric because the claims have no basis to stand on -- for example, failure of what?  Lack of decency?  Or forced tameness -- how?  The poem doesn't answer these questions; however, the interesting thing about this poem is how riled up the speaker is and how easily, through transparency, changes tone.

"enough language returned" is the line where the poem becomes self referential and changes tone.  Usually, this type of line shows a certain sense of absurdity in language, and , as such, I found the rhetoric above this line a certain level of absurd, but the poem continues with the rhetoric, but in the other direction -- probably to affirm the satirical quality of the poem, "I'll long for as long as / Ohio river, beautiful, / letting me go."  Also note this is the first time the speaker is introduces him/herself -- sort of like the outside victim role -- capable of seeing the escape and the inmates.

The poem expands outwards and inwards (working with the duality part of the poem) with the final two lines, "we leave in each other.  / Beautiful, all that leaving."  And yes I know that the first line I pointed out is part of a longer line, but the line works as an epiphany where the speaker kind of realizes that he/she escapes through the language of description, and the state leaves any tropes behind through interpretation.  But essentially they are both trapped.