Saturday, August 31, 2013

Analysis of "On this Very Street in Belgrade" by Charles Simic

Original poem reprinted online here: "On this Very Street in Belgrade" by Charles Simic
Originally read: April 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Charles Simic

When I was looking up the bio information for Charles Simic, the first line I read was, "Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in1938" and I stopped right there.  Is this poem more on the personal side?  Perhaps.  I'll read his bio after this analysis, but I want to see how it is between me and this poem.

The first note I wrote was, "strong visual and very precious simile.  Doll = Baby, burnt rags = the actual.  What present me notes is that the like could've easily been a metaphor line without the simile.  But the simile acts more of a distancing device -- through comparison the speaker gets away from the scene, and the usage of "like" or "as" focuses on the comparison and not so much the individual image.

Next note, "Time passes, not Hollywood ending.  Wait what goes through the subjects mind when meeting the dog?"  Present me focuses on the speakers action.  The speaker is talking to a homeless dog because there is no one left at the same spot.

My last note goes into symbolism and projection, "The dog being a representation of the subject's past.  Maybe a younger version of the subject."  But what past me didn't mention is that if, indeed, the dog is a representation of the speaker's past, then the focus would be on these lines, "His eyes brimming with hope / As he inched forward, ready for the worst."  A more hesitant, but hopeful figure, but note that the dog is "homeless" and I think this is a greater symbol if this is indeed a projection than hope.

The dog's hope is a compounded escape from the real (current and past self) and into another, better, and actual real (future and imagined).  The poem reads as though from memory (past tense, and similes) so, for me, the weight is so much in the past and the hopeful future is static and illusory.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Analysis of "342 It will be Summer -- eventually." by Emily Dickinson

Original poem reprinted online here: "342 It will be Summer -- eventually."  by Emily Dickinson
Originally read: April 7, 2013
More information about the Poet: Emily Dickinson

Yes, in Emily Dickinson poems the dashes sort of take over  the poem visually, and, since there is a lack of other punctuation in the poem (with the exception of the comma in the first line), there's an assumption that the dashes work as pauses.  I'm not too sure though as I keep reading this poem.  Maybe the dashes will be a discussion for another day.

But they do create pauses in interesting places though -- the dashes I mean.  For example, in the first stanza where the speaker is defining summer by the way people act, first there's the dash between "Ladies" and "with parasols" as thought there's a distinction between both; however, there are "Sauntering Gentlemen" and "with canes", and "little girls" and "with Dolls."  These aren't commas, there's the separation between the item and the person.

In stanza 2, the dashes are more at the end of the line, and the further the description goes with the deliberate pauses, the more artificial the poem and the description seem to be.  Past me wrote, "People, the ornament of landscapes."  And I think I got that thought from this line, "As 'twere ta bright Bouquet --"

In stanza three, past me wrote this, "Ever year the same beat, the same hum, that the bees "do not mind" but have to follow."  When I read and look at the third stanza, I'm seeing more of a portrait -- or in modern terms, a televised version of the events of summer, "The Bees -- will not despise the tune -- / Their Forefathers -- have hummed -- " rather than summer itself.  And further we go down the artificial, but not metapoetical.

In stanza four, past me focused on the "external change" through the line "Her everlasting fashion" (note: that "everlasting" will foreshadow the divine in the last stanza).    However, what comes to mind is "the wild rose" which, by today's standards, is a bit cliche, but in this poem, I feel the wild rose is the depiction of wild rather than the actual. The word might be a turn in the poem as something is about to break free.

"As woman -- do -- their Gown -- / Or Priests -- adjust the Symbols -- / When Sacrament -- is done --"  With the last three lines of the poem there's the comparison the to the woman (who come off as artificial to me at the moment) and the priests who "adjust the Symbols."  It appears that there's a slight jab at priests reinterpreting and artificially creating symbols through the sacrament.  The sentiment is so short in the poem that I'm pretty sure I'm looking at this poem in another direction.  However, all the points are there though.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Analsysis of "Have A Good One [In the error]" by Anselm Berrigan

Original poem reprinted online here: "Have a Good One [In the error]" by Anselm Berrigan
Originally read: April 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Anselm Berrigan

After looking up this poem, I noticed that this is part of a series of poems that start with "Have A Good One."  However, I'm not going to read the poem as one in a sequence -- I should though, but I'm thinking of that line where there is places that could be expanded on into a sequences (but not overly so) and where the poem can stand alone (but not be overly unique).

I think line break and white space  makes this poem.  For example, the left adjusted "In the error" sets up a definition like stance where the poem discusses what "In the error" means in contrast of having a good one.

The second line "thinking of non-intervention" is an interesting way of looking at errors, as in errors intervene in a straight path, and in the context of "having a good one" as a simple greeting that should cause someone to stop, but it's a non-intervention in the sense that if a greeting is said too much than the words doesn't stop anyone.

And so there's a sense of shifts in every line that could mean more, but since the shifts are too abrupt the meaning doesn't necessarily matter (non-intervention) rather the shifts in the poem do which is "non-response" -- "the wince."  "the shrug" from the you no matter how hard the speaker tries to relate meaning.

This sentence shows how the breaks change the meaning but not necessarily the person:

     In the era, thinking of you
          will quit my job
               in one year to get
        more done, work harder
          to insert myself into
          the fragile extension
      of space between us
          to get something done.

The first line break "you / will quit my job" could be taken literally as the "you" who throughout the poem is "non-responsive" could take the job of the speaker who tries to get something down.  Then there's the break of "get / more done, work harder."  And then there's a thought that the speaker moving on.

But no, the line break again, "to insert myself into" draws the speaker back in to the situation and there's an acknowledgment of the situation being "fragile" (or at least "space between us) to get something done.

The last line, "In the ear / thinking after you" has somewhat of a tragic element because the speaker is thinking of the other, when, in fact, the speaker is the other for the you.  It's not an epiphany or a realization to move on.  It's just there -- that "fragile extension."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Analysis of "The Bladder" by David Keplinger

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Bladder" by David Keplinger
Originally read: April 7, 2013
More information about the Poet: David Keplinger

I find this poem allusive heavy towards Beowulf.  Or is it me trying to make the poem allusive heavy through the term "The Haunter Mere."  In any case, the poem tries to balance the "real" with the "allusive" or maybe not.  It's weird since the tone of the poem seems to shift with every sentence.  Well since this is a short poem then I should go by sentence by sentence.

"He who'll lose his bladder calls it Three Days Down, or / The Haunted Mere."  So here's when I think the poem is allusive heavy due to the way the sentence is constructed.  Note how the third person perspectives adds a mythic feel to the line also the renaming of something as something else as "Three Days Down" (which it can be taken as modern vernacular) or, more importantly allusive wise, "The Haunted Mere" -- I don't know if the line is an absolute allusion to Beowulf, but  the tone sets ups something like this. 

But the tone starts shifts to the more medical with the next sentence, "It must be reconstructed from / other body parts."  "It" referring to the bladder, Three Days Down, The Haunted Mere, or maybe even loss.  When a mythic line is next to a very straight forward line, I feel that the speaker isn't trying to add too much depth at the moment, but wants to point out what the speaker will go in depth into.

"I imagine what those parts will be, elastic like / the wrist, thin like the skin where the cheek meets the / tragus of the ear."  Here's where the poem goes more medical, but through multiple similes.  Note how the speaker describes what he/she imagines the material necessary for reconstruction ("those parts") are through other body parts -- a wrist, the thin skin between the tragus and the cheek -- something elastic that me, as the reader, doesn't expect something internal to be -- yes, there's the struggle here between internal reconstruction and external materials.

"Small mushrooms have begun to grow / along the inner lining of the bag."  Note that the speaker goes back to the renaming, but this time the renaming is internal, "the inner lining of the bag" should reference the bladder.  Also note that "small mushrooms" brings me back to the mythic sentiment in the first line a little, but at the same time, I sense the "small mushrooms" to be polyps -- something cancerous or destructive forming within the body.  In either case the "reality" and the "mythic" is straddled a bit here.

"Doctors scrape the / lining; but then, the mushrooms again."  Here is the first "action" of the poem, the "Doctors scrape."  Rather than the speaker being in his imagination or renaming what's present -- here the action is more visceral (yes, I know "grow" is an action, but doesn't hold the same register for me as "scrape").  But also note that when the mushrooms again could refer to the return to the allusive mythic ideals, or out of remission.

"You would have / to swim into that lake, he says, not breath for days, to / kill its monster"  Grendal?  Yes, for me the outward pull is the allusion -- but what does the monster serve in this poem?  Cancer?  Fighting to get to the real?  Fighting to stay in the imagination? 

"That's how he talks.  That's the only way."  These lines work as a unit for me.  Who does the he refer to?  The speaker, the doctor, or someone entirely different.  What the first sentence does is acknowledge the reconstruction of the "he" -- the mythic and the real.  "That's the only way."  Solidifies a sense of coping.  There's no other way to cope (speaker, doctor, or someone else) unless the tone shifts, or the allusions are there, or as past me puts it Speaking as though the speaker is the hero."


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Analysis of "April" by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Original poem reprinted online here: "April" by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Originally read: April 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Algernon Charles Swinburne

This is an easy and not so easy poem to decipher.  On the surface there's an alternating rhyme scheme sort of (ababcdeded) but that "c" line changes the dynamics of the poems intent, and trajectory.  Is the "c" line a volta, not all the time, but sometimes.

Also the poem has a simple subject, right, speaker loves a woman like the divine and (possibly) vice versa, or maybe not.  Yeah it gets confusing really quick for me because the tone changes on the subject (both the woman and the divine).  I've been stuck on how to analyze this poem, so I'm just going to do it one stanza at a time.

In stanza one the main focus is on nature and the comparison between, "The songs of the birds begin" (which has a positive connotation), and "I sing with sighing between" -- happy versus sad, but the latter line is the "c" line in the stanza, so the line works as a sort of turn this stanza.  A turn towards, "I am heavy at heart for my sin."  And here we go with the loving a woman which is contrary to the season of Spring.

In stanza two is not necessarily the description of the sin, but the ones who cast the speaker as the sinner, "I know he will needs have it so / Who is master and king, / Who is lord of the spirit of spring."  Note that the last line I quote is the "c" line.  Anyway, the rhetorical questions set up a separation between the speaker and the "master and king."  Not necessarily at odds, but not necessarily existential either.  No, it's more of a mix that goes internal that doesn't really deter the speaker to love the woman, "Even her for whose sake / Love hat ta'en me and slain unaware." 

In stanza three there's a bargaining sequence, "O my lord, O Love, / I have laid my life at thy feet;" And here the woman and the divine take on both attributes as the speaker is setting himself as a follower of both -- even so far as being overly subservient, "Thout wilt take any pity thereof, / Any mercy on me."

"But"  this is the start of the fourth stanza.  Here is a definite volta which changes the tone of somewhat genuine devotion to over the top (maybe disingenuous) feelings of "love."  The speaker has "sworn without fail I shall die" without love and "What I love, what I sing for and sigh,"  A little bit more overboard than expected.

Past me wrote this in the fifth stanza, "If she gives 'it' to me, totally worth the regret afterword -- she might be taken already."  Past me highlights the line "For this grief of her giving is worth / All the joy of my days."  This is when I start to cringe and laugh at the same time.  Yes, a simple love poem (kind of neurotic, but okay sure -- love poems are a bit neurotic), but the tone goes overboard and the situations become too stratified -- "My dream and my dread." 

And what solidifies the poem as a very one sided love poem is this line in the sixth stanza, "For thy love's sake I live,"  ah the old standby, but there's also this line in the sixth stanza, "Do tell me, ere either depart / What a lover may give / For a woman so fair thou art."  If she told him to depart, would he listen.

With all this divine love  set up the last lines interested me:

     The lovers that disbelieve,
          False rumours shall grieve
     And evil-speaking shall part.

Past me wrote, "double negative believe in false rumors?  First mention of evil.  Only those who dont't believe in love are 'evil'."  Actually, I think the poem takes a more self-loathing turn.  Since the affair seems more one sided, the individual (yet in the mind of pure devotion is part of the 'lover') that not believe in "false rumors" or false unsubstantiated talks shall grieve -- or another way to put it -- take in all the "truths" and disregard the biased "falsities" (when in fact the truth is swayed by the devotion of the speaker).

Evil shall part -- sin as mentioned in the beginning the speaker has.  So, the speaker has to truly devote himself to the lie, to the dream of the poem, in order for the evil to depart and "love" to come back, or in, or there -- wherever the speaker wants the ideal to be.
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Analysis of "Like Any Good American" by Brynn Saito

Original poem reprinted online here: "Like Any Good American" by Brynn Saito
Originally read: April 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Brynn Saito

I think the message here is simple.  The title "Like Any Good American" refers to the actions of a country in the negative; however, by referring to the self "I" as a symbol of "America" then the political message of giving up to technology is buffered since the reference is to I, the plural disguised as a singular,  rather than the "American," the singular disguised as a plural. 

However, the technique is interesting.  The spacing and line-breaks bring a difference to the message, but not a reversal.  For example, the spacing in between phrases like "I give it my eardrums         I give it my longing" juxtapose the actual and the emotion.

But this is the huge note to this poem, that the breaks doesn't mean a break from the sentence structure.  Rather, the poem depends on the connections the line breaks make as sort of a implied connection.  So I'll go down each one:

  • "I give it my corneas / I give it my eardrum"  The plurality at the "giving" here versus the single receiving of filling the "longing."
  • "I give it my longing /  In return I get pictures"  The singular "fulfilling emotion" is returned with "pictures."
  • "an men flying / and women in big houses"  Difference in "gifts" regarding in this fulfilled state -- men have a sense of freedom but nothing to ground them, women have something to bind them but space to explore -- a juxtaposing image in multiple levels.
  • "blotting down tears / with tiny knuckles" the tears is more of an emotional impact, however, the adjective of tiny not only describes the size of the tears (possibly), but the size of the "knuckles" -- an unusual (but slight) part of the body which seems normal when the reality of the poem gives into the surreal entertainment.
  • "Sometimes my mother calls / and I don't answer"  This one is more blatant connection with the conjunction.  But this shows the decay of real connections, and the sacrifice of the self for entertainment.
  • "sings past the window / and summer air" construction (window) versus nature (air) in a sense -- all are disregarded.
  • "dripping with the scent / of human sweat" a switch away from the visual to the olfactory.  Note that human sweat refers to what?  What is seen in the television or is it the effects of what is happening to the speaker?
  • "I've given my skin / to the TV"  The actualization of the surreal.
  • "where the secrets / of my life" Kind of a cliche line but used in a different context.  This line doesn't work unless the whole line is present, "flesh by like ad space     for the coming season" and there's the pun of "season" as in nature, and "season" as in a time frame for a television series in which the series will be back next year ("season finale" versus "series finale")
Yet, with all this technique, the message is, as I wrote in the beginning, simple.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Analysis of "Early Elegy: Headmistress" by Claudia Emerson

Original poem reprinted online here: "Early Elegy: Headmistress" by Claudia Emerson
Originally read: April 4, 2013
More information about the Poet: Claudia Emerson

The use of punctuation in this poem parallel each other, but I'm unsure how the parallels work.  The use of the colon could set off a list, and/or define something.  But yet look how the title works, "Early Elegy: Headmistress."  The colon feels like it's setting off a list, and this poem is in a sequence of poems titled "Early Elegy."

Furthermore the syntactical structure of the title follows into the first line of the poem, "The word itself: prim retired, its artifact".  Indeed the colon does set off a list, however there's that usage of the ambiguous pronoun "itself" which can refer to an "Early Elegy" and/or the "Head Mistress."  And the qualities each take "prim, retired," does flow well conceptually.

But the poem does confirm the description is about the headmistress through the humorous sounds "her face / the boredom she abhorred, then perfected. "  The long "O" sounds followed by a long "f" in "perfected" continues a sense of mockery with the line.

Then from sonic mockery, the speaker continues with more of a visual one, "emptiness / a revision, cigarette and brandy snifter painted, intolerably, out, to leave her this lesser gesture"  I'm going to repeat a line here, but note how specific the description of emptiness is -- cigarette and brandy snifter painted, is not here.  What is left is a "gesture" -- a very broad term and not as specific physically.  In this case, the specificity plus the word "intolerably" add a sense of closeness and cynicism from the speaker.

This tone of the speaker parallels the interpretation of the gesture, "gesture:  What next? or shrugged Whatever."  The sense of apathy is applied onto the picture, the elegy, and the speaker.  But the last line brings a somewhat different tone.

"From the waist down she was never there."  This could be a harsh critique of the headmistress.  However, I take this differently because the tone doesn't seem cynical.  Why do I think this?  Well, when I see punctuation, italics, description in this poem, I associate them with the humorous, and cynical.  But this line is very straight forward, no punctuation, no italics -- as though the line is exposed and not hiding in the technical. 

Analysis of "A Last Moth of August" by Nance Van Winckel

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Last Moth of August" by Nance Van Winckel
Originally read: April 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Nance Van Winckel

The tone of the poem in the first stanza is a bit overwhelming.  I think I'm getting a little far ahead of myself.  The first three lines describe the moth with the ability to change "the night's mood," and then the speaker makes this declaration, "Change its course, too. Maestro."  So there's a sense of humor here, but mockingly. 

Immediately, my mind went to two different tones after reading the first three lines -- a cynical spider in the web tone, or a drunken absurd tone.  In either case, I feel the tone is a self-reflexive.  Well, it's kind of obvious with this line, "do you never tire, as I do,".  And so the moth is more of a projection that "trash-talks" or "sassing" in some way. 

However I do want to address these lines, "this rolled-up newspaper that eons ago / our progenitors perused / in the sweet half-light."  The lines have humor in it because of the hyperbole and comparison to the moth.  The moth, a self-reflexive nuisance, is compared to this weird purple prose which exaggerate time, light, and person.  Why?  This is the part of the humor which tries to distance subject and speaker.  Note how the subject changes further away with each technique. 

Now the trick, I think, is to get the speaker back to either the projection of self, or the moth, or even go off on a rant with the past.  In any case the cynical drunken tone allows this type of reading to go off shoot -- but not taken too seriously no matter the direction.

"Apparently" diffuses the tension of misdirection of the poem.  Also the word focuses the speaker a bit more on the subject of the moth through the idea of the season "September."  But just as quickly the speaker takes on the more mocking role, "I guess that makes me / your bad news."  News also being a pun and a reference to the newspaper "eons ago".

The brevity of "Don't watch" could refer to the news or the moment of capture.  The duality sets up the blend of the speaker and the moth becoming one -- image wise perhaps with lines like, "your wingbeats / enter me     as I hover,".  And since the switch is complete it is the speaker who "trembles as blackbirds    bullet by"  And the question is why?  Why the switch.  The line feels like the moment before an epiphany, and I think this is the core of the poem -- the inability to profess an epiphany and let the image and the wording be more a smoke and mirrors of the self as speaker and subject.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Analysis of "Full Moon" by Tu Fu

Original poem reprinted online here: "Full Moon" by Tu Fu
Originally read: April 2, 2013
More information about the Poet: Tu Fu

Tang Chinese Poets.  I don't know how many times I've heard that they were a big influence in someone's poetic work.  And, from my reading of Li Po, Tu Fu, Po Chu II, and Wang Wei -- the focus for me is how the image is implemented in the poem.  There's a visual concrete presence that moves in the majority of the poems of Tang Chinese Poets. 

So, with this poem, I think the translation does a real disservice to the poem by using "it."  However, what "it" does for the translation adds another layer of miscommunication that adds a certain depth to the poem.

There are only two quatrains here.  The first focuses on the location of the full moon which is above human constructs (a tower) passing over.  The first "it" in this poem occurs in the third line with "It scatters restless gold across the waves" and the ambiguous pronoun refers to the image of the moon.  However, the implications of the presence can be appropriated to the overwhelming nature of the moon or rather how does the reader anthropomorphizes "it."  And through the anthropomorphizing there's a certain benevolence to the it, "On mats, it shines richer than silken gauze."  What I mean is that the presence of the moon, the "it,"  comes more into focus that the actual thing.  Signifier, the moon, turns more into the signified, the presence.

So that's one way my not so sane mind looks at the usage of "it" in this poem.  There's another way of reading of "it" as blurring of subject matter.  These lines, "Empty peaks, silence: among sparse stars, / Not yet flawed, it drifts."  It here, grammatically speaking, refers to silence.  However, I see the it also referring to the moon as well.  Logically, the grammar indicates one thing, but the usage of "it" in the first stanza as a strong signifier has me in mid shift with the definition of "it" so both silence and moon mean approximately the same thing because, well, the image of sound and visual fit.

I think the last line brings together the miscommunication which creates anthropomorphizing and the miscommunication of blurred subject matters together.  "All light, / All ten thousand miles at once in its light!"  Note that the usage of "all" brings the attributes of the moon, and the moon itself into the ephemeral but not judgmental -- the focus is the attributes of the moon, not what the moon symbolizes. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Analysis of "Briefcases" by Stephen Dunn

Original poem reprinted online here: "Briefcases" by Stephen Dunn
Originally read: April 2, 2013
More information about the Poet: Stephen Dunn

With a line like, "I kept it like love / until I couldn't be kept anymore."  A part of me thought I would discard this poem as overly sentimental (which I do too often) and then move to a different type of poem.  However, in this instance, and for that day, I decided to print this poem out and look more into how the devices work in this poem.

There are puns, sentimentality, playing with white space, consistent quatrains, a slight sense of the absurd, narrative elements, role reversals brought about through similes, and I think that's it.  Why do I list all these techniques out now?  Well, this is the major and interesting thing about the poem -- the poem is unapologetic on the sentiment.  This is how the speaker is feeling, and more importantly, the absurdity it takes to keep this feeling.

What am I writing?   Is this piece a meta-poetics piece about how sentiment is remembered and used in poetry?  Or is this piece a sincere narrative of a man struggling on how to deal with death through retaining the senses of nostalgia.  Actually, it could be one, or the other, or both -- that's the scheme.  I don't mean to use scheme as a negative term, rather that (like all schemes) the reader ("investor") puts in more than what's stated in the poem emotionally and/or rationally and the result is more of a reflection of the reader than an understanding of the speaker.

Isn't that how Poetry works though?  Like I know.  I'm just trying to hash through the experience I have with every poem I want to write about.

For example, the title, "Briefcases" could be a pun of "brief cases" where there's a narrative episodic feel to the poem where the speaker is in different scenes of remorse which starts out with how the speaker's father died, but look at this line:

     Fifteen years ago I found my father's

No seriously look at it.  The key word here is "father's" which is in the possessive.  But there's the assumption that "ah the speaker's talking about the briefcase.  If read out loud, the possesive can be taken as plural which foreshadows the death of the "father-in-law" in stanza 2. 

I think here's a good place to write about the spacing.  Note how the second and third lines eek out just a bit, then come back left adjusted.  This could represent steps or slight distances or whatever physical imagery comes to play with the subject matter.  What do I take from the "whatever," well there's the didactic stanzas 4 and 5 in which the speaker states his opinion on newer brief cases, "made for men living fast-forward / or those attaché cases that match / your raincoat and spring open."  

These lines are so absurd in so many levels.  Notice the reaffirmation of the speaker delving into the past with the judgement of "men living fast-forward" but also note the placement of "match" and "spring" in which carries multiple meanings --  seasons having a "salute / and a click of heels" feel -- a "kitschy" feel or "match" as in made fore the person but springs open to expose the kitschy, the insincere.  I think I'm digging too far with these stanzas and it's time to move on.

Then the psychosis of the speaker brings a sense of an overly attached narrator whose character has been built up through the episodes, snippets of thoughts in the stanzas.  I think this line speaks blurs the meta-poetics, the speaker, and reader interpretation:

      [...]  I'm going

       to put an ad in the paper, "Wanted:
             Old briefcase, accordion style,"
                 and I won't care
       whose father it belonged to

The line breaks are important to note because they serve as a catalyst for interpretation.  From a meta-poetics stand point, that emotional cathartic experience of reading about someone else's emotion comes from relationships similar to the readers own: father-son, man-dog, lover-cheating ex-lover.  The reader sees the relationships and the interactions, but the people are just archetypes.  From the speakers perspective, look how the speaker wants that nostalgia -- pushing away the future, it's the scent of a "father" figure.

And this simile, "Like an adoption / it's sure to feel natural before long--" that simile solidifies that connection, regardless how strained, for that psychotic yearning for the past or maybe this, sentiment in poems becomes natural after a while -- a guess a better way to look at it is that fulfills the readers 

If a reader gets far enough and invested in a poem, or any work, then it'll take a lot to take them out of that suspension of disbelief -- even if it is sentimental.  But there's is a certain point, and the last stanza pushes it:

     something for an empty hand, sentimental
          the way keeping is
              sentimental, for keeps
     sake, with clarity and without tears.

And I think here is where the poem turns more meta-poetic than sentimental.   The speaker is self-aware of his psychosis ("going to" instead of "will") and the creation of this poem enough to call out sentimental without being didactic.  The call out is more of a question for the reader, not so much the speaker by laying out a simple definition.  Sentimental (according to this poem) is to keep something -- nostalgia (physical representation and/or psychological) and without sentiment how much poetry can there be about "letting go," but if a poem focuses too much on the sentiment then there's a huge chance of being unclear and focused on the tears.

Yeah, not the reading probably -- a reflection of what I think.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Analysis of "The Comet" by Emma Törzs

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Comet" by Emma Törzs
Originally read: April 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Emma Törzs

The beginning of the poem has the classic case of being too personal and cute.  The adjective/noun combinations of "deep lonely," "beautiful freeze," and "staring eyes" have the tendency of leading the reader to the single direction of sentiment.  Well, where else would this lead to?  But this in itself is the trap of the poem -- how much of the sentiment intertwines with the allusion or vice versa.

Of course the image of the comet does set up more of a symbolic reading for me -- the stars, the moon, the great beyond -- this is where my mind unfortunately goes and the eventual turn here is to the personal -- to either life or death.  And the poem doesn't disappoint on this level.

First, how the poem deals with life, "Say I am the aftertaste / of all my parents' grief, a childhood spent in the downwind / of chicken blood, recurring dreams of being left behind--"  and here, at least for me, I thought the poem might be too sentimental that there's too much victimizing of the speaker.  Yet, I kept going where a part of me should've went to the next poem.  There's something wrong here.  Maybe I liked how the speaker used taste imagery which is rarely used.  Also with this play on the surreal.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that there's a fine line for me on where I'd keep on going with the sentiment of the poem.  Here the images are surreal, yet serious enough for me to continue.  If the poem went too surreal or too serious, then I probably shrug off the poem.  Well, this line is a little bit overboard, "my mother kneeling by the VCR to watch a video of her lost daughter--".  Overly Dramatic? Yes. 

But then there's a turn to this crucial line, "When my son began to die, I did not record his voice,"  this is a very powerful yet heavy line.  But look at the approach the poem makes -- it sticks with the idea of voice.  To contrast the speakers childhood, the speaker didn't have a voice, and the speaker doesn't want to record the voice of the son that's dying.  The distance through similarities is here (yes, there's the line, "faith to think we'd meet again." which is a bit cliche).  But then the poem gets weird with the speaker consuming the flesh of the dying child.

I think this is where I was interested in the poem and how these lines remind of "Saturn Devouring his Son":

I don't know if the poem is making this allusion or it's me misinterpreting the poem, but this is the experience of the poem that I had (and which I'll go off of).  And I feel the greater tragedy in this event is not the distance, but how the use of the allusion shows the lack of emotion -- the lack of love as an emotion, but rather effects of loss in multiple levels (loss of connection, loss of closeness, loss of identity) which is amplified through the italics line:

     you'll be the fire of the sun, and I will circle you until you draw me close,
     until our nearness breaks me into pieces and you burn me whole.

These lines are a bit surreal -- just a tad, but in a sense the last grasp of sanity of the speaker who wants those connections, that closeness is shown here.  It's kind of like a reason line which skirts on relying on the sentiment to make this poem or blurring the sentiment to not make this a poem about sentiment, but the distance created through trying to find that emotion.  If this makes sense. 

Okay, so maybe.  The last part of the poem doesn't play with any emotions but rather punctuates the distance between the speaker and the subject, "Say the speeding rock of my body is as bright / as any resurrection, and I have time to shake before I hit the earth."  The trick here is the "any resurrection" part in this line.  Note how this poem isn't spiritual and I don't think this poem is looking to the rational as well.  An emotional conveyance of distance that needs to be awaken before impact?  Perhaps.

But I do have to write that this poem works for me because it is a prose poem.  That there's play of the pace of the poem, but also, if this poem had intentional broken up lines, then the poem would've dove into the sentiment -- because the lines would overemphasize the emotion rather than the emotion be like a slippery road to go to and get away from.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Analysis of "The Mower Against Gardens" by Andrew Marvell

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Mower Against Gardens" by Andrew Marvell
Originally read: March 31, 2013
More information about the Poet: Andrew Marvell

It's poets like this where I feel that I wouldn't do an analysis justice to the poem since this poem has many allusions (biblical garden, and others) and works within a form -- couplets within a single stanza.  For a while, I was thinking of looking up scholarly articles about the poem to validate my thoughts.  But, this blog is not so much about analysis, but rather experience of the poem -- I should keep this thought in mind and not be so hesitant about trying to figure out this poem.

In any case, I've been relooking and rereading this poem on and off during my "break" and I came to the conclusion that this poem appropriates the idea of "Adam's Garden" to "Manifest Destiny" through the sexualization or the emasculation of "the other."  However, the "other" -- the flowers and the land that leads to lust, is actually the interesting part of the poem for me.  Lust as an ego trip.

Yes, let's not get to far without some lines that lead back to this reading.  The focus in the first lines is the interaction between "man" and the garden.  And how the man can shirk off the responsibility of "vice" with these lines:

      He first enclosed within the garden's square
      A dead and standing pool of air,
      And more the luscious earth for them did knead,
      Which stupefied them while it fed.

With these lines it is the garden which is luscious and compelling which "stupefies" the man.  Note there isn't a mention of a woman in this point.  So the first allusion to Adam and the garden is in the first lines.  There could be an argument that the garden and the woman share the same qualities because look how sexualized the symbols become: "The pink grew then as a double as his mind:" "The tulip, white, did for complexion seek, / And learned to interline its cheek."  The personification of the "plants" which takes and desires "feeds" from the man.

So there's an interplay of who is really the "victim."  

Then the poem takes a turn which I think is pretty smart of the poem, "Another world was searched, through oceans new, / To find the marvel of Peru."  With these lines the kind of surreal imagery of the man and the garden dissipates and expands into the real.  Look how the image shifts to the expanse, a a sort of manifest destiny, that leads to the man -- unwittingly of course -- down a treacherous, lust induced path (man -- always playing the victim).

But what is man to do in such an allured state.  Man is needed, right? And here is the core line of this poem for me, "He grafts upon the wild the tame,".  It's not the idea of how man tames nature -- rather the verb here in the line, "grafts."  Grafts implies an aware mark -- an awareness to leave a mark.  Now, man shouldn't control his lusts and vice, no, no.  Man should control and graft those that induce a loss of control and vice.  The next line after this also has a very good adjective/noun combination, 

"That the uncertain and adulterate fruit / Might put the palate in dispute."  So "adulterate fruit" not only grafts an emotion onto the fauna (the land) but alludes to the garden -- that damn apple that leads to knowledge.  And if the poem ended here, then this would be a good post-modern cynical interpretation of the poem (reverse gendered power struggle anyone?).

However, the later lines like, "To procreate without a sex," leads to the point of view of nature.  Where, "willing nature does to all dispense / a wild and fragrant innocence,".  Past me (oh so young) wrote this, "Does the garden, wild, fragrant innocence keeper of the pure retain itself through 'gods?' or gods represented by 'man' or 'other man.'"

What I'm referring to is that the "man" dealing with lust is projecting his lust and grafting his desire on the land; meanwhile, the land -- nature -- is pure and innocent and it is, "the gods themselves with us do dwell" that makes them a figure.  Man (the us) changes and manipulates anything to satiate a need that is no fault of the man, but of the other.  

Poor man.  

I like this interpretation, but I'm pretty sure this is not what Marvell intended.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Analysis of "The Old Hauler" by Ryan Dennis

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Old Hauler" by Ryan Dennis
Originally read: March 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: Ryan Dennis

A third person perspective, but not necessarily narrative.  The focus is the speaker's description and knowledge of "the old hauler."  The real question when I read this poem was where were the hiccups in the poem, places where there's an emotional turn of phrase or idea but then there's the return back to the more objective descriptive tone.

In the first stanza, there's more of a play of sounds than a set-up of definition, "intentions among suggestions / [...] it's a lesson in resignation."  Note how the "-tion" sounds is a risky move here in the poem.  If the rhyme (or over use of internal and end-stopped rhyme) can possibly turn off the reader due to a sing song quality that pertains to generalities of the person.  Also the last line automatically pinpoints "the old hauler" as one of resignation.  When these definitions are solidly in place, there's a sense of "then what?" Or I know where the poem is going, "the definition of resignation" so why should I continue.

I actually thought about this for a while.   There's a big discrepancy between days I posted, for not a good reason at all; however, in that time frame I wondered why I should go back to this poem if the mystery is unraveled in the first stanza (plus in a sing-songy way).  I don't know, but I'll continue to sort through my thoughts about this poem rather than keep my thoughts in my head.

In the second stanza, there's more of a routine description.  Yes, there's discussion of "We send our bull calves in on Thursdays" and "He lets us know if someone has sold out"(this could be a play on "sold out").  The description is too genuine and too straightforward for me to see an undercut to the lines.  Not that there should be an undercut, but the first stanza brings me back to the question of "why" and the directness doesn't make me particularly see anything different than to see the actions of "the old hauler" as one of resignation. 

The signs of resignation continues on to the description of the cattle and, "He once farmed, but the farm is gone." and "he still gets up at four, / because something tells him to."  The description forces the reader to see "the old hauler" as a sympathetic (from genuine reader perspective) or pathetic (cynical reader perspective) character.  This continual reinforcement of familiar, and a bit clilche, description pushes the character into the static -- overly symbolic -- stance.

The fourth stanza has the didactic line of "Once it's in your blood, he says, / you can't get it out."  Usually, I would be all over the usage of the ambiguous pronoun of "it," but, strangely, this little piece is more of  a turn in the poem that interests me.  Since the description and character all lead to the character, the "it" could be assumed as "doing the job" or "he still gets up at four, / because something tells him to."  And, from here, the "blood" line encapsulates the feeling of routine.  But what interests me is that the line refers to the subject and, supposedly, the speaker.  And since I take the poem more on the genuine side (at least right now), the reflective quality of the poem is more generalized -- brings more of a "what then" quality than "why this."

Yet last stanza continues with the previous sentiment of describing the character of the old hauler as a symbol propped up by the speaker, "Every time he leaves I understand our communion better" as thought to state -- yes, Symbol!  But the last lines of the poem is probably the reason why I keep going back to this poem.

"and why he speaks to the bulls / he takes to slaughter."  The very image and pretense of the lines is striking.  Past me writes, "relation to young?  Wanting to be relevant to something.   Wanting to be heard, but not remembered (self) remembered (action)."  And here is where I debate this question.  Is the strength of the last lines enough for me to go through the mostly surface (and sometimes easily connected depth) of the poem?  Well I did, but can't shake the feeling of wasted motion in the poem, as though there's a line between the sympathetic and pathetic which is crossed and I don't know specifically where -- the beginning, the build up, or both?