Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Analysis of "Elegy with lies" by Bob Hicok

Original poem reprinted online here: "Elegy with lies" by Bob Hicok
Originally read: May 13, 2013
More information about the Poet: Bob Hicok

Past me wrote about the title, "Elegy with lies -- but it's honest about the elegy having lies -- focus how the lies operate."  So with an elegy, a poem honoring a dead person, there's bound to be overstatements and understatements.

The first line deals with overstatement, "This lost person I loved.  Loved for a hundred years."  The overstatement is a personal view that continues to develop as the narrative continues.

Narrative elegy?  Well, the story is the speaker is searching for her "in a forest."  And the speaker tries two different things to find her -- "call her name," and "build a machine that believes it's God to call her."

The first attempt where the speaker tries to call out for the person.  Note how the  call is qualified with a parenthetical response of "nothing."  The understatement of "(nothing)" brings  a sense of determination from the speaker.  As for the next step, the speaker "builds a machine that believe it's God."

What purpose is the machine?  The machine, although absurd, characterizes the speaker and the subject.  The speaker capable of building a god or create something like this, but is still impotent to find someone.  Meanwhile, the subject, the woman, presumably, would answer the call from God, but doesn't respond only until the creation is torn down.

Note how violently she enters the poem (not necessarily returns), "she runs from the cabin / pointing a gun at my memories and tell me / to leave, stranger, leave, man of hammers." Here the divide between multiple levels comes forth -- what the speaker believes and what the woman believes, "man of hammer" and "woman with a gun".  The images create a surreal sense of what is, presently, going on.

And to emphasize the now, the speaker uses anaphora of "when" to demonstrate what's happening from his sober point of view:

     When I can't finish that story.  When I get to the gun
     pointed at my head.  When I want it to go off.
     When everything I say to anyone all day long
     is bang.

Here's the rub.  Pat me notes the "Elegy not for the "woman," but for the "I."  I would also note that this is an elegy of the perception of the woman -- the overstatement of the other which takes control and is present. 

And the present speaker wants the gun to "go off" regardless if the control is his or the other.  The thoughts of death is ever present in his mind that all he says to anyone is "bang."

And the bang comes back to the end, but the sound has an added element to it, "All day long, Soft as cotton, tender as a kiss. Bang."

Past me wrote that the "Bang is constructed in various ways such as, sound, onomatopoeia, regret, withholding name of the "real search."  Furthermore, the bang is the final absolution of the speaker.  The confrontation is done, and none -- the representation and the present -- are not there.

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