Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Analysis of "Unfollowed Figment" by Lyn Hejinian

Original poem reprinted online here: "Unfollowed Figment" by Lyn Hejinian
Originally read: June 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Lyn Hejinian



"This poem is one of a series, all of them elegiac in intention, and subject to the strange forces of mourning that let loose illogical developments, into impossible configurations of thought. The poem is built of non-sequiturs, because that’s what’s left in the wake of the death. We cannot follow the dead, whether they are persons or ideas. Instead we remain, but in a situation that, in their absence, makes no sense." - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23565#sthash.RvhAfdul.dpuf
 "This poem is one of a series, all of them elegiac in intention, and subject to the strange forces of mourning that let loose illogical developments, into impossible configurations of thought. The poem is built of non-sequiturs, because that’s what’s left in the wake of the death. We cannot follow the dead, whether they are persons or ideas. Instead we remain, but in a situation that, in their absence, makes no sense."

This quote is from the Poets.org site, in which the poet, Lyn Hejinian, has the chance to explain her poem.

Non-sequiturs, yes. Elegaic, sure.  The poem follows the idea of "Unfollowed fragments" set by the poet who also explicates the poem itself.  There doesn't seem to be any reason to go forward in an explication sense of trying to figure out symbol or theme in this poem.  The poem doesn't operate like that.  Rather I'm going to go through the poem and see how the speaker uses language to end up with the same result and not seem like mad rant.

"Useless lighthouse, and the bucket on the beach, the tattered begonias."  This is an image line where the adjective/noun combination of "useless lighthouse" in which the adjective useless has more of a judgement call which fades with the use of the conjunction to separate the images.

"Forget examples -- there's not an entity or detail around that isn't more than a mere example."  Rhetoric based on definition.  "Examples" range from an entity or a detail.  They take up physical space, not so much time.

"What's truly funny?"  "truly" is the key word here.  Wouldn't truly refer to the verb "is" rather than "funny"?  I ask because the statement of "is truly" has more of a philosophical ramification that butts up against the concept of "funny."  But the verb is hidden adding a layer of syntactical depth.

"Once upon a time there was a mouse, and there was a cactus and a pair of very small rubber boots with a hole in the sole of the left one, and now that I think back I remember that there was a baby on a barge in a lake full of flowers, and out of these there's a story to weave and probably more than one."  A list of fragments in which the speaker tries to find meaning in the flow, not necessarily the images.  Yes, there's a mouse, a cactus, boots with a "sole" in the left one -- but the images tempt to reader to have an actual connection which is broken by the authorial intrusion of the speaker trying to re-contextualize the scene in real time.  There had to be a baby, and this story could be woven to more stories.  But there are no stories.

"The music changes at the mantel, the bassoonist is baffled, the synchronizer fails"  a play on assonance and alliteration.  Play with m, then b, then the abrupt "syhchronizing fails" line takes away the sound.

"It is empty good writing, is it research, resurgence, repartee?"  Past me tried to find a connection with this line and "useless."  However, I find this line now more meta-poetic.  The speaker is addressing the idea of "empty good writing"  -- can it be called research -- just noting what's looked up?  resurgence -- revival of a past style (akin to Stein or Naturalists...I think)? or repartee -- just wit, something to get by?  Note that this poem itself has demonstrated a couple of these, and also with this line there's no "" or "or" to separate the list.

"8, 9, 10, 11 minus 31, 8" I won't fall into the trap of math...okay I did...it doesn't add up.  And I feel this is the response to try to make things add up and follow a logical structure, only to miss the answer by 1, and to double check we go back to the beginning of the problem which is 8.

"A stranger creates an occasion" my mind wants to see this line as an allusion to Camus, "The Stranger" so my mind will.  It's not the occasion that is made, rather what type.

"Lewd silver sea, your bigness carries barges as noon stands in grass" yes this line could reference the long almost narrative sequence above.  But here is the return of the judgement based on adjectives which is demurred by the surreal images of "noon stands in grass."  So there's a slight change in technique.

"See, I got cops -- or they got me; so says the melancholy memorist from the anarchy of her dreams"  This line plays with expectation.  The anger implied with "I got cops" is then turned on its head by "they git me" a duel of contrasting emotions that is paralleled by the memorist vs anarchy of her dreams.

"Clear is the sojourn"  the path is there -- it's there, but not traveled.

"In the stiff air, down the unbalanced wind, over dusty culverts, women bear their hot cells of benevolence"  The images narrow down further and further: stiff air, unbalanced wind, dusty culverts -- an overall scenic image but the next lines don't follow the ideas, about women and cells.  I'm not too sure how these images work. Meh.

"Are all wonders small?"  A rhetorical question that goes back to the title, "Unfollowed Figment" as thought to question the poem, but the question importance of line, size, craft, and, presumably, death.

"This poem is one of a series, all of them elegiac in intention, and subject to the strange forces of mourning that let loose illogical developments, into impossible configurations of thought. The poem is built of non-sequiturs, because that’s what’s left in the wake of the death. We cannot follow the dead, whether they are persons or ideas. Instead we remain, but in a situation that, in their absence, makes no sense." - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23565#sthash.RvhAfdul.dpuf
"This poem is one of a series, all of them elegiac in intention, and subject to the strange forces of mourning that let loose illogical developments, into impossible configurations of thought. The poem is built of non-sequiturs, because that’s what’s left in the wake of the death. We cannot follow the dead, whether they are persons or ideas. Instead we remain, but in a situation that, in their absence, makes no sense." - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23565#sthash.RvhAfdul.dpuf

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