Saturday, December 21, 2013

Analysis of "And One For My Dame" by Anne Sexton

Original poem reprinted online here: "And One For My Dame" by Anne Sexton
Originally read: June 23, 2013
More information about the Poet: Anne Sexton

In tercets, this poem also deals with three characters: the father, the husband and the speaker.  However, the weight of the poem falls heavily on who the father was and what he represents to the speaker.

The first nine stanzas focuses on how the speaker remembers the father, "a born salesmen, / my father made all his dough / by selling wool to Dieldcrest, Woolrich, and Faribo."  Note that the focus is "born" foreshadowing a sense of birthright (good or bad) and also how specific on who he sold his product.  Also note the colloquial tone which brings more attention to how the speaker tells the story rather than the story itself.

"A born talker, / he could sell one hundred wet down bales / of that white stuff.  He could clock the miles and the sales."  More reference to the father, but propped up to a quasi mythic proportion with regards to material and money.

The change is more focused on how the father is able to sell with careful language, "At home each sentence he would utter / first pleased the buyer who'd paid him off in butter," or, "Each word / had been tried over and over, at any rate, / on the man who was sold by the man who filled my plate."

Note how the focus on language -- certain specificity and how language is used to sell something plays into the speaker when she was younger who is not immune to the charm, "HOw suddenly gauche I was / with my old-maid heart and my funny teenage applause."

Then the image shifts back to the father with, "my father was in love with maps / while the radio fought its battles with Nazis and Japs."  The change starts here, yes, it's apparent because of the tone, but also because of the focus goes from selling to observing where the speaker also observes, Except when he hid / in his bedroom on a three day drunk, / he typed out complex itineraries, and packed his truck."  Here there's a bit of a serious undertone; however, as soon as the change comes about the father, it's gone to the point of view of the speaker in the present.

"I sit at my desk / each night with no place to go, / opening thee wrinkled maps of Milwaukee and Buffalo."  The speaker has "no place to go" which goes against her father.  And in this moment of staying, the speaker reflected on the father who, "He died on the road, / his heart bushed from neck to back, / his white hanky signaling from the window of the Cadillac" although this could be taken as a metaphor -- I take this more literal.  The father was in an accident.  Also I take this literal since the poem doesn't go into heavy metaphor -- maybe strong undertones, but not metaphor.

With the father dead, the speaker is trying to impress the "seller" onto the husband, "My husband, / as blue-eyed as a picture book, sells wool: / boxes of card waste, laps and rovings he can pull"  also the style of specificity is punctuated with the names as well, "say Leicester, Rambouillet, Marino."

Then the point-of-view turns back to the speaker, "Adn when you drive off, my darling, / Yes, sir! Yes, sir! It's one for my dame, / your simple cases branded with my father's name."  Explicit reference to the father similar to the husband -- furthermore, with the last stanza as well with the itinerary.

The last line, "its highways built up like new loves, raw and speedy" read nice, but hold a negative appeal.  The husband and the father can go on these highways -- they are compared and similar like the coupled rhymes with the last two lines of each stanza.  But for the one left out, the speaker, the first line that has to tell the story, there is no "new love"  there is no "raw and speedy" only reflection.  Slow, standing reflection.

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