Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Analysis of "The Courtship of the Lizard Lover" by Kate Buckley

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Courtship of the Lizard Lover" by Kate Buckley
Originally read: June 9, 2013
More information about the Poet: Kate Buckley

Just as this poem is in couplets, there are also two strong images that play with and against each other: the lizard and the speaker.  I note the speaker as the speaker because the speaker (sorry about the redundancy) doesn't identify him/herself as strongly and is characterized based on appearance.

Is it important that I think there's no gender.  In the sense that the actions the speaker makes should carry this poem rather than looking at the poem based on tropes like man/woman or lover/scorned lover (but of course the poem plays with these type of dichotomies as well).

The first couplet, "He crawls through the cracks / of my stone foundation,"  is highly metaphorical in the speakers perspective, but very literal action from the he "lizard" part.  He is crawling; meanwhile, the speaker is observing and letting this happen.

The second couplet "sly and sleek as / I tempts him with food"  note there's no emotional indicator with his actions, rather the speaker takes control in a sense by describing the "stone foundation" in a playful way due to the alliteration, and also the speaker tempts -- as though the speaker has planned out such action to get the "he" in.

The third couplet, "He stays out of habit; I cook / out of love for things that move."  The semi-colon indicates a connection between the "he" actions and the speaker.  The "he" is sedentary based on comfort, and for comfort, the speaker "cook out of love for things that move."  Although on a cursory glace the connection would be their "relationship" these lines hint an opposition. 

However, the connection is solidified in the fourth stanza, "We grow accustomed to each other's / trails and smells, the skins we've shed".  This is the first usage of "we" in the poem; furthermore,  the specific images of "trails and smells" which will be further explored in the other stanzas.  This stanza (the midpoint stanza) serves as a change in the poem -- not so much a volta or any sort of significant change, rather a shift.

This shift starts with a generic description in the fifth stanza, "along the long, long road / of rubbing each other smooth."  In the previous stanza, the outcome is relayed first, "the skins we've shed."  Meanwhile, the focus here, and to the rest of the poem, is more action oriented as if in the now -- rubbing each other smooth is a unified action.

Then there's a separation through the simile with the second to last stanza, "Till all the skins we've shed lie sparkling / like so many stones in this desert land."  Note how the stone imagery makes a reappearance as a collective, and how the skins shed feels like it mostly applies to the "he."  With the breaking of the stone and skin, the speaker can be more action oriented.

So the last lines, "I scoop him up in my hand / and eat him." is somewhat foreshadowed, but the tracing back to the line, "I cook / out of love for thing that move" comes into play.  Note that the "he" isn't necessarily cooked and furthermore doesn't qualify as a thing that moves because, "he stays out of habit."  The opposite seems more likely true -- cook what you love, consume what nourishes -- it's the memory not the actual in this extended metaphor.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I know this is years after you first posted this but I just wanted to comment and say that I had to do an analysis of "The Courtship of the Lizard Lover" for my poetry class and I was stuck on what to do, so this helped me out a lot. So thanks for that and I hope everything is doing better for you nowadays!