Sunday, October 20, 2013

Analysis of "The Frog Pool" by James Martin Devaney

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Frog Pool" by James Martin Devaney
Originally read: May 11, 2013
More information about the Poet: James Martin Devaney

Rhyming sestets.  So I actually have a purpose of announcing the form at the beginning.  Past me wrote down that the rhyme scheme is "sing songy -- goes with the absurdity of the poem.  AABBCC.  Also most of the lines are end-stopped.  Usually my mind would gloss over with this type of poem, but this one interested me because this reads like a fable.

Also, my bias is that anything with "Frog" and "pool" anywhere in the poem has to do with Basho's famous poem about the old pond.

Weirdly though, after reading this poem more and more, I think this poem successfully detaches itself from the allusion because of the rhyme scheme, the content, the humor, and all within a form.

The first stanza starts out with the passage of time and the effects -- time passes, the pool shrinks.  The anthropomorphism of the drought is tempered with the adjective "fierce" and noun "fiend"  so there's already a one-sided depiction to the poem.  And then there's a shift to a thunderstorm.  Now the speed of the action indicates the first stanza works as the exposition and the focus will be on the thunderstorm.

In the second stanza the first line, "And hark! hark! hoarse and harsh," is funny to me -- the alliteration couple with archaic usage, and the rhyme scheme just brings an over-the-top emphasis to this poem.  Like everything is important.  At first I didn't want to take the speaker as genuine, but the enthusiasm gets me like here, "Wake! wake! awake! awake!"  What I'm writing that this poem is so genuine with the enthusiasm that it's hard for me to dislike the techniques.

Even when the poem attempts to be tricky, "The drought break!' / but no, that chorus seems to me, /more a primeval harmony." Okay it's pretty bad, but the rhyme of "me" and "harmony" feels forced, but the enthusiastic cannot be denied at this point.  It's like a puppy running around barking for 10 minutes -- it's cute, and funny, and entertaining.

In the last stanza, there's general violent nature imagery, "thunder booms,"  "floods flow" "skies crash,"  a bit apocalyptic, but it's the point of the view of the speaker -- this childish enjoyment that turns the serious around, "a pandemonium of delight." 

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