Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Analysis of "The last poem in the world" by Benny Anderson

Original poem reprinted online here: "The last poem in the world" by Benny Anderson
Originally read: June 20, 2013
More information about the Poet: Benny Anderson

 This poem is a translation from Danish.

I do wonder, a usual, what's lost in translation, but when I reread this poem the poem is about loss, but not necessarily the loss in a emotional drudgery sort of way, but more of a c'est la vie humorous type of approach to loss.

The opening lines, "If this were the last poem in the world / I would make it as long as possible / infinitely long" are very straight forward.  Note, that at this point the poem is not post-apocalyptic, rather describes itself as the "last poem in the world" as though either a) poetry ceases to exist due to eradication or b) poetry ceases to exist do to apathy.  Also note that the focus isn't content -- rather length -- the humor of this situation is punctuated with the drop down adjusted line "infinitely long" as though to tell the audience that this will be a humorous poem.

Then the poem goes meta-poetical with the focus on technique, "but I would slow down the last few lines / and stop just before it ended / afraid of falling into space" these lines foreshadow the technique at the end (look at the end of the poem), but also there's the interjection of the speaker as the self wanting to continue or he will be, "falling into space."    The trick with these lines is that the discussion of the technique or serious is buffered with the absurd.

The next part is the other half of the "or" duo.  And, as stated before, most of the time, the second part of the "or" is the part in which the speaker wants us to focus on -- the first half either is a smokescreen or a pithy use to portray to opposite.  And so what does the speaker want the reader to focus on?

     or I would lie down
     and creep on my belly out the edge
     hang onto the very last words
     and carefully lean over the abyss
     where all poems end

What these lines are doing is placing the speaker as the poet -- somewhat akin to a (humorous) Dante looking in and having to chronicle his adventures.  Instead of Beatrice, the speaker is trying to hang onto (and find) the last words of a poem.  Also note that the action of the lines differ from the thoughts of the previous lines.

The poet is looking "to see a poem from the other side" in which way?  Final product? Deconstruction?  I don't think too hard about this idea.  Why  because the focus is not the other side, but the beginning in this poem.

     the first poem in the world
     then like a fly wound move
     along this under side
     clinging to every word

Okay so this sentiment goes on.  This sentiment of "clinging" and again the clingy nature is buffered with the simile of the fly.  However, this sentiment goes on for nine lines or a good 1/3 of the poem.  with the line, "and turn up in the first line of this poem / or maybe some place completely different" ending the stanza.  A good thing to point out is the poem keeps foreshadowing or instructing the reader how to read the poem structurally -- but not necessarily contextually.

The poem does indeed slow down at the last two stanzas.  The first of the two focusing on the refusal to believe that what the poet writes is the last poem in the world or not finish and do another poem.  Here the speaker refuses to finish "this poem," but this is more of a focus on the last stanza in the poem and what it does and state.

As foreshadowed with the line,  "turn up in the first line of this poem"  The stanza (or the last line) has the similar structure of the drop down line at the end.  The last stanza contains the speaker's sentiment of, "I would refuse to write it / In any case I would stop as soon as possible / like right here"  The lack of punctuation (throughout the whole poem) becomes clear here since punctuation should be the missing "element" to complete this poem; furthermore, the line ending where it is tells the intent without "completion."


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