Monday, July 8, 2013

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.


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.

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