Friday, November 29, 2013

Analysis of "Mary Tired" by Marjorie Pickthall

Original poem reprinted online here: "Mary Tired" by Marjorie Pickthall
Originally read: June 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Marjorie Pickthall


Past me noted that the poem is composed of "rhymed couplets."  The majority of the stanzas have even lines with the exception of the third stanza.  The rhyme scheme dictates how the narrative works.

The poem is mostly exposition though as evident with the first stanza.  The focus is on "Mary"  -- yes, the biblical Mary post birth with, "With the earliest hush she saw / God beside her in the straw."  Well, I'm assuming it's post birth.  The reference though is to Jesus as god.  I think.

In the second stanza, the focus is still on the exposition, but more focus on the scene, "Drowsing Joseph nodded near, / All the glooms were rosed with wings."  The the last three lines of the stanza indicates a change of perspective, "She was tired of heavenly things / There between the day and night / These she counted for delight."  The change in perspective is mostly around the oblique and, at least, less obique.

When Mary, tired, of heavenly things -- there's the allusion to Jesus, and god once more, but also a distance there.  Meanwhile, by "counted for delight:" note how the colon will list off some tangible things for her.

Which begins in the third stanza, "Baby kids that butted hard / In the shadowy stable yard;"  An actual kid, not a heavenly kid.  "Silken doves that dipped and preened / Where the crumbling well-curb greened;"  Although the description of the doves are brought up through the adjectives -- these are actual animals, and the crumbling to juxtapose the silk goes to the extremes with the types of image: revered and decayed.  Then there's a speed of the list with, "Sparrows in the vine, and small / Sapphired flies upon the wall. / So lovely they seem musical."  For me, I agree with past me, "like the lines above: sing-songy."  But sing-songy with a purpose.  Reality seems out of place, but it's more tangible than "heavenly things."

The last stanza focuses on the "heavenly things, "Out of cups the morning made / of a glory and a shade."  But note the usage of sage to foreshadow a deeper or contrasting view of these events because, "while unseen the seraphs knelt" the (divine).   mouse crept in and, "curled / Near the Ransom of the World."  Past me wondered what the "Ransom" of the world meant -- or if there's an allusion to something else here.  I didn't find anything; however, the way of interpreting "the baby" as something that can be looked at as a ransom has so much potential, but here, it feels purposely put here as a "here I am, this is what I want you to think."

But the nuance of the mouse slipping by and sleeping next to "God" has more of an impact for me.  That, regardless of divine stature, humans abide by natural epistemological rules.  Yes, mice do sleep in barns, easy to acknowledge.  Seraphs watching overhead.  Well...

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