Original poem reprinted online here: "Man" by Michael Bazzett
Originally read: August 22, 2013
More information about the Poet: Michael Bazzett
It's not until you get to the middle when the tone solidifies itself. Yet in the first half of the poem, there is a focus on the character of "Man" as the title bleeds into the poem.
What does the bleed indicate? The focus of the first line is the verb "burrow." So the character is burrowing (in the literal, and probably the metaphorical sense), "Burrows into his cave / lined with warm earth / dug from the pine hillside." Weirdly enough, I started counting syllables at this moment.
The lines are set up kind of haiku-esque with the attention to nature and such. And then I discovered that the lines are either five or six syllables long. I don't know what this means, but it could be a reference to Tang Dynasty poem structures of only fix syllable lines. Probably not, but that's what I thought of when reading the first three lines.
"Roots spiral from above / like coarse hair, fragrant / and beaded with sap." Past me wrote "creation -- mixture of nature and man." The mixture of images come together here as a form of description of the place and the man.
"He digs until he strikes / shattered bedrock buried /like a wisdom tooth." The similes continue with the comparison of both man and nature. But also note the focus in burrows and digs -- there's a search for something in both man and nature.
"How long he carves / signs into the granite / and paints signs /onto the granite." The actions are pretty rudimentary but the technique of using granite twice indicates more of a focus on place, perhaps? There's something off.
Which is then discussed with, "we do no know." And here is when the tone solidifies. The introduction of the speaker as an observer trying to define a scene rather than a character going through a scene. And note that with this change towards the speaker, the construction changes as well. No short sentences. And no five to six syllable lines (six to seven). The rest of the poem is one long sentence which focuses on the speed of the action:
draws up straight as thread
and the air around him grows
still and he turns to see
the mouth of the cave
has firmly closed and he
has become a tongue.
The refocus of language, and the character recognition is all implied by the author. Note that there is no reaction based in the character. The "become a tongue" line is, well, a bit tongue in cheek. In the sense that the speaker gives the man a purpose, and the man "realizes" he has a purpose.
I think with this poem the "we don't know" line changes the interpretation of he poem. Good or bad? I don't judge the worth only the impact.