Sunday, February 9, 2014

Analysis of "Ha Ha Unicorns" by Eileen G'Sell

Original poem reprinted online here: "Ha Ha Unicorns" by Eileen G'Sell
Originally read: July 28, 2013
More information about the Poet: Eileen G'Sell



The beginning of this poem uses a weird sort of logic, I don't know my philosophy very to label what type of logic though, "To marry is to compromise; I hate compromise.  I hate compromise and I love unicorns."  I rarely use the term symbol in my analyses these days.  Why?  I think it's how the term operates.  Symbol -- something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity.  It's easy to say one thing is a symbol of another thin (i.e. the flag represents a country, this apple symbolizes death) but I tend to wonder how these symbols are formed, and I think I spend too much time extrapolating how techniques are used (or at least that's how I want to spend my time with this).

Anyway, this poem plays with the idea of symbol.   If marriage symbolizes compromise, and speaker hates compromise, then speaker hates marriages...but loves unicorns.  How does marriage symbolize compromise?

"Marriage is saying 'I do' believe that this is it, forever."  Time.  Here the initial definition is compromise (marriage as well) represents a commitment to something forever -- regardless of knowing what forever is.  Meanwhile, "Unicorns do not exist yet people love them anyway."  Ah, if marriage is real compromise based on time, then unicorns represent imaginary but love.  Within these lines, the it seems the speaker can't bring these two concept together and defines each through implied negation -- what marriage is or is not, and what a unicorn is or is not "Marriage very much exists yet none contain unicorns."

"Unity is fallacy but faking it is fun"  And I think here, the speaker punctuates the humor behind the logic through the alliteration.  The speaker is having fun separating both sides out.  Or at least taking the logic lightly.  Until, "You never have to fake it with a unicorn, like you never have to fuck in a solid marriage."  The difference between fuck and make love.  Or the difference between physical intimacy being mandatory or a luxury in a relationship.  And, yes, the word "fuck" is used to shock, "For some, to fuck is to compromise."  But the word is the allusion which hides the fact that the speaker goes from absolutes to certain cases with the phrase "for some"  And this is where the focus is.  The general will eventually turn personal by the end of the poem.

"For some, unicorns are far away.  For some, marriage is a public decree: 'I do not believe in unicorns.' And for those who divorce--with shaking manes, with glittery 'never-again-will-I'"  Here is the merge based on image with the mention of "shaking manes".  People are unicorns, not really.  The connection is cursory based on image, but I think it's enough to show that the speaker is making a connection and somewhat changing the tone, for this line, to be taken a little more serious, but acknowledge the play still going on until the speaker confirms the connection with, "I would like to believe in unicorns; I would have to believe that you are are one."  It's a a transition line which leads to a centralized focus.

"If you are it means in fact that unicorns very much exist, which means that marriage that marriage is that flagrant disavowal of fact."  I just want to note how I think the "very" works in this line -- it adds to the child-like logical connection going on.  And "very" is a hard word to put in a poem, "Given this, marriage sounds a lot more fun."  This "conclusion" starts off an anaphora chain of Given this which kind of simulates compromise, not of the self, but of the "idea.

"Given this, compromise doesn't sound so bad.  Given this, I would love to have you forever and never hate what I've never had."  Past me wrote this for "never had" -- "unicorn, compromise -- speaker tricks self through 'logic'."  And the play leads up to the idea: logic only takes a person so far.  Then "fun" takes over and compromises just suddenly happen.

There are a few poems that end hopeful and be earnest.  I think this poem works because it's play is not too cynical and the logical is not too involved.  The fun comes to the forefront, then the fortunate (unfortunate) decision.

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