Original poem reprinted online here: "South" by Jack Gilbert
Originally read: May 4, 2013
More information about the Poet: Jack Gilbert
A third person kind of fable. Even the beginning reads lulls the reader into a sense of anticipation for change, "In the small towns along the river / nothing happens day after long day." Past me wrote "domestic boredom." Now that I think about it, isn't domestic boredom the start of the imaginary or rather a catalyst for some fantastical change. Well boredom does that to peopole.
Anyway, the boredom is punctuated by these two lines, "Lives with only emergencies, births, / and fishing for excitement." Past me noted, "domestic fun." But What I read now is more a of a sarcastic point of view from the speaker. However, maybe it's me that reading too much into it because the straight description of the poem is quite monotone and any hiccup of emotion (the judgement call of "excitement") makes me believe that there is a a shift in tone. Regardless, the towns themselves are "boring," but how the speaker feels about them may be questionable.
Then there's the change, "Then a ship / comes out of the mist." The change comes mid-line, and right in the middle of the poem. The change comes off as a needed volta in order to liven up the poem (there's only so much boredom that I can take." The start of something new.
Yet the change is mysterious, the boat:
comes out of the mist. Or comes around
the bend carefully one morning
in the rain past the pines and shrubs.
note how the arrival of the boat is well detailed. It's how it arrives -- out of the mist, or in the rain which not only brings a difference in focus, but also a difference in scenery to the "summer." The change is mysterious because the focus is mostly on the arrival.
What changes occur can possibly be inferred by three words, "all lit up." But this states nothing really, not in the context to the poem. But this is the first "light" image as though bringing something new (on top of scenery) to this place.
The after effect is just as mysterious, "Gone two days / later, leaving fury in its wake." Past me focused on the idea of "fury" as the crux of the poem.
*Fury -- relation to town. Town furious
*Fury -- Place disrupting natural order
*Fury -- people on the boat projecting their fury on a place.
The reason why I focus on fury because there's a change of emotion here. From boredom to fury, something had to occur. Or maybe this is the focus of the poem. A new element introduced to a static element, regardless of what is done, can change (positively or negatively) of a static element.