Saturday, May 31, 2014

Analysis of "Immortal Longings" by Robert Pinsky

Original poem reprinted online here: "Immortal Longings" by Robert Pinsky
Originally read: October 20, 2013
More information about the Poet: Robert Pinsky


This poem feels dream like.  From the title, "Immortal Longings" which brings a divine desire to the poem (which seems out of grasp), I think this poem tries to pin down the emotion.

But there's some heady things to follow in this poem.  Not so much surreal, just conceptual, "Inside the silver body / Slowing as it banks through veils of cloud / We float separately in our seats."  This feels like a description of sitting on a plane, but note how the language here has some pretty high symbolism with "silver body" and "veils of cloud"  and also note that the subjects (we -- me and you) are "floating" as well.

"Like the cells or atoms of one / Creature, needs / And states of a shuddering god."  The simile drives the poem back and forth between the macro (last stanza) and now the micro.  The relationship building between cell -> creature ->shuddering god.   The "shuddering" gerund is important for the simple fact of reaction and naming -- the god is somewhat clearer in context.

"Under him, a thirsty brilliance. / Pulsing or steady, / The fixed lights of the city"  Past me noted "top down look from 'God'" but in actuality it feels like the top down look of a plane.  But note that the focus here is the observation, and the "thirsty brilliance" happening below, "and the flood of carlights coursing /Through the grid."

"Delivery, / Arrival, Departure.  Whim. Entering / and entered.  Touching / And touched:"  The word play that plays with time -- current to the past brings in a sense of movement in the poem in which fluctuates just like the image and what is talking about.  Nothing is set -- rather the poem plays with the implied.  Also note, that the "we" has pretty much disappeared until near the end of this poem.

"down / The lit boulevards, over the bridges / And the river like an arm of night."  Places and destinations -- the simile add more to the grandiose style of the poem, "Book, cigarette.  Bathroom. / Thirst.  Some of us are asleep."  Now what these lines do is separate the speaker to the action outside the "thirsty brilliance."  Why?

"We tilt roaring / Over the glittering / Zodiac of intentions."  Yes, I feel "Zodiac of intentions" is too much.  But the conceptual of "tilt" and "glittering" brings this poem to actual actions.  The last part here feels like a zoom out away from the up close and becomes that "shuddering god."

I have no idea what "Zodiac of intentions" is used for here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Analysis of "Equation for Cresting" by Christopher Bolin

Original poem reprinted online here: "Equation for Cresting" by Christopher Bolin
Originally read: October 20, 2013
More information about the Poet: Christopher Bolin


The reusing images and language in a poem is a tricky thing.  There's the limit where the images and language, repeated, are interesting until a certain point.  Why?  I think this is the question that this poem raises.

"This is the world's reenactment of today, / and of this moment,"  Past me focused on "globalized scene"  well, I think not really.  This beginning of the poem to me now is more of the set-up of the language and images -- prepare for more of the same in different ways:

          and of continuing on-with its satellite imaging of scattering birds
     obscuring our faces--
     and this is the world's reenactment of its percentages:
     of the constant shifting of satellites
     and the constant scattering of birds and the likelihood

Key images: satellite imaging, scattering birds.  Key language: constant, reenactment.  The funny thing about this stanza is that the mention of constant shifting and scattering occurs on paper, but it can't be seen.  This poem is going on the language level where calculation (equation) is more the primary core -- the ability and inability to reenact "percentages"-- parts of, pieces of.

Then the poem goes "personal", "that we will be seen; and this si the reenactment of someone choosing your face"  the line is enjambed so the full impact is buffered with the knowledge that there is more to the line. But note how "intimate" the choosing seems because the poem has been so general until this point.  This is further developed, a bit cliche with, "to remember--and of your growing flushed or turning, slightly, / toward a window / with a red shade;"

Close to the point of intrusive.  But isn't that the point of "satellite imaging" and finding the right percentage?  The poem isn't about being personal, it's about intruding on the macro and micro level, "and of the birds' shapes appearing through its fabric--which is / the reenactment."  Same situation, different people.

Then this poem hits the somewhat political with, "of our traverse / of the capital / with the flags of thin material gaining symbols in the wind."

Although the last line still feel out of place for me, I can see why it's included -- to solidify more of a political meaning rather than the poem being an exercise of the micro and macro.  Also if the poem did end directly addressing the reenactment, each image would be "gaining symbols" rather than the "equation."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Analysis of "The Ventriloquist's Heart" by Lisa Allen Ortiz

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Ventriloquist's Heart" by Lisa Allen Ortiz
Originally read: October 18, 2013
More information about the Poet: Lisa Allen Ortiz


Awkward conversation, "At dinner I lean in close. / I say: The ventriloquist's heart has eight chambers. / His blood lurches from one to the other." For a poem, this sort of conceit can be metaphorical and can be gotten away with, well sometimes, but what this poem does is acknowledge the impracticality of lines like this in a real conversation, "I am trying / to explain exactly how I feel."  And this isn't one sided.

"You say: let's go home." The other speaker has more of a say on the direction they both go.  So the question at this point is who is the "dummy" or who is the "handler"?

     In the car, I hear clapping and an audience roaring
     with laughter.  I follow you upstairs.  Beneath my sequined top
     I hide a music hall: no cover, two drink minimum,
     jokes all night.

Note how the real situation and the illusion situation interplays here, but also that the speaker is aware of both.  The speaker takes in the attributes the fanfare to itself.  Yes, the speaker carries the music hall, the audience, the noise, but in actuality only one  action has occurred, "I follow you upstairs."

"The spotlight softens.  It's sad-- / we all know inside the doll are nothing but fingers, / a voice tossed the length of an arm."  Based on the poem, this line is predictable -- how the "doll" (not puppet) and the handler are different.  So now we know who is in control and who is just following.

The after effects of the poem is once again the perspective of the speakers.  Yes this was a one night stand, "You watch me but say nothing."  Nothing stands out other than the predicted flow until, "I do not tell you what I know: His heart is too large, / blood enough for the two of them."  Does his refer to the "handler"?  The one that the speaker expects to have "eight chambers."

What stands out for me is how delusional the speaker is to hold onto the roles until the very end.  The last line seems to try to get back at the other by being passive aggressive in the mind.  Yes, the other doesn't know at the cost of what?  The speaker's body.

There is no "empowerment" of the doll regardless of voice or length of how the speaker wanes about the moment.  It's all waxing poetically from the point of view of a doll.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Analysis of "The Bear" by Jim Harrison

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Bear" by Jim Harrison
Originally read: October 18, 2013
More information about the Poet: Jim Harrison



This poem is a narrative that starts at the speaker then expands outward.  A bear is a bear until it can dream.

The poem starts out with the repetition of the "when" phrase, "When my propane ran out / when I was gone and the food / thawed in the freezer I grieved."  Here seems to be the start of an adventure narrative.  The speaker ran out of utilities to survive "propane" "food" and how something thawed.  The tone seems serious enough.

"over the five pounds of melted squid, / but then a great gaunt bear arrived / and feasted on the garbage."  Now here's the thing.  The poem turns a bit because of the adjectives used to describe the bear seem a little too overboard, couple this with alliteration and the tone of the poem changes to something a bit more humorous -- especially with this strong image of, "a few tentacles / left in the grass, purplish white worms."

This is set up though -- this mix of serious and humor for the last five lines which waxes poetically and philosophically:

     O bear, now that you've tasted the ocean
     I hope your dreamlife contains the whales    
     I've seen, that one in the Humboldt current
     basking on the surface who seemed to watch
     the seabird's wheeling around her head.

Now here's a leap -- from eating squid to seeing the ocean.  Yes it's a bit humorous, but this seems more of a projection of the speaker -- which he admits with the reference to the whales "I've seen."

Why is this important to note?  Because the speaker can hide behind the anthropomorphizing of the bear in order to state something.  But no, the bear is the backdrop to the "dreamlife" of the bear and the speaker.

And what's in this dreamlife?  A whale  basking on the surface "who seemed" to watch the seabird's.  Interpretation -- the ability to see something rare and understand purpose.  Just like the bear eating the frozen squid -- there's purpose in (somewhat hyperbolic) accidents.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Analysis of "poem I wrote sitting across the table from you" by Kevin Varrone

Original poem reprinted online here: "poem I wrote sitting across the table from you" by Kevin Varrone
Originally read: October 16, 2013
More information about the Poet: Kevin Varrone


The title of the poem plays on the romantic ideal.  Well, at least from me.  The idea of creating something for another person as they wait.  And this is my problem, no where in the title does it indicate the purpose of writing across from someone.  There could be implications, like the couplet form, but nothing really solid.  I think the poem plays with this idea.

"if I had two nickels to rub together / I would rub them together"  the affirmation of intent.  But this is stated and then pushed further through a simile, "like a kid rubs sticks together / until friction made combustion"  now this is what is anticipated -- the reaction.

And even though these are in couplet forms, note how the actual and the simile are two lines each as though to show a connection, but separate them enough to be individual ideas.  But the poem continues to go further with the burning:

     and they burned
     a hole in my pocket
   
     into which I would put my hand
     and then my whole arm

     and eventually m whole self--
     I would fold myself

Two things of note.  The usage of "and" for each stanza adds an element of improvisation.  The speaker is making this up as he goes along -- and with this energy the speaker goes through the surreal, but more importantly, head first into the reaction -- a response.

And so the black hole that the I speaker created expands far enough, "into the hole in my pocket and disappear / into the pocket of myself, or at least my pants" into humor based in hyperbole that can, perhaps, transfer over:

     but before I did
     like some ancient star

     I'd grab your hand.

And for the longest time I've been thinking of the cosmos since the poem plays in that direction.  And perhaps it does.  However, the "ancient" could refer to a past technique in which the actual of "grab your hand" can occur outside the speaker's self black hole.  In either case, the you enters in at the end more as a symbol.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Analysis of "A Study (A Soul)" by Christina Rossetti

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Study (A Soul)" by Christina Rossetti
Originally read: October 16, 2013
More information about the Poet: Christina Rossetti


The poem is in the Italian sonnet form with an abba/cddc/efe/efe rhyme scheme.  The break apart is distanced here -- just like the title which indicates a systematic introspection into the parenthetical soul.

     She stands as pale as Parian statues stand;
     Like Cleopatra when she turned at bay,
     And felt her strength above the Roman sway,
     And felt the aspic writing in her hand.

The soul, I'm assuming, the she is described in the physical stance first.  The color and the ability to stand is what's important to note, and then the context of standing is described further in -- power, like Cleopatra, both in a militaristic sense and the writing (diplomatic) sense.  What does this mean for the soul?  the soul seems timeless, something historic.

    Her face is steadfast toward the shadowy land
    for dim beyond it looms the light of day;
    Her feet are steadfast, all the arduous way
    That foot-track hat no wavered on the sand.

The semi-colon is key to this portion of the poem (note that there are no stanza breaks).  The first two lines follow the simile of Cleopatra proud and powerful, but also looking over the metaphorical "shadowy land" to the light of day -- some semblance of hope, maybe?  Or perhaps the ideal of perseverance.   In any case, the her speaker, because of this, is steadfast.

     She stands there like a beacon thor' the night
     A pale clear beacon where the storm-drift is;
     She stands alone, a wonder deathly white,
     She stands there patient, nerved with inner light.

Past me wrote, "biggest hint of the allusion" with the first line here.  Yes, this could allude to the Statue of Liberty.  Actually, a very high likelihood.  But note how the anaphora of "she stands" becomes wavers in dedication from being a simile, to the physical, to the metaphorical.  I think the "strength" the speaker is talking about is being able to withstand all these descriptions (some overreaching, some too on the nose).

"Indomitable in her feebleness, / Her face and will athirst against the light"  And here's why I don't think this is about the Statue of Liberty -- is that with all the strength the speaker has, there's the self identification at the end as "feeble" and being "athirst" against the light -- perhaps the inner light, perhaps the light of day -- whatever is referenced here.  Or expanding outward to ideals like titles and responsibility.  But remember this is a study of "a soul" in general, nothing specific.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Analysis of "Amour Honestus" by Edward Hirsch

Original poem reprinted online here: "Amour Honestus" by Edward Hirsch
Originally read: October 15, 2013
More information about the Poet: Edward Hirsch


So the title and the feel of the poem seems French -- with talk of love and what not.  And if I didn't look up the title, I would've translated it as "honest love" which does go along with the poem as well.

But I'm wrong.

"Amour" does mean love in latin and this word translates throughout multiple languages.  However, "Honestus" doesn't mean honest rather honor.  Honest being more defined by truth, and honor more of defined by a virtuous character.  Yes, this does change my interpretation the poem, but I don't know how much.

Why, the refrain of "hell of it" in the end of the second line of each couplet shifts the emotions in the poem quickly like the first couplet, "The nights were long and cold and bittersweet, / And he made a song for the hell of it."  This couplet is more based in perseverance, and with the title, the male figure is doing something out of romantic whimsy.

"She stood by the window, a heavenly light / Who created havoc for the hell of it."  And the female figure "created havoc."  How?  Just by standing there.  So far the descriptions are very surface and one sided -- but the focus here is "Amor"  the setting is "love" but there's undertones of something more.

"He used to fondle every skirt in sight / Then he fell in love--that's the hell of it."  I noticed now that the end of every first line ends with a hard "t." as though to be an endstopped line as far as sound.  In this case, this couplet shows more of the exposition of the male figure as a cad who is in love.

"Now there's a courtyard with an abject knight / Yodeling his head off for the hell of it."  Here is where I feel this authorial intrusion of where the "hell of it" mocks the male figure.  Also the idea of "abject knight" and the verb "yodeling" doesn't flow with the language of the previous lines.  But I feel this aspect of the poem foreshadows the end.

"O poor me, my Lady, my hopeless plight! / She married a prince for the hell of it."  The female figure is looking less and less flattering with her marrying someone for the hell of it, but what is the relationship between the male and female figure at this point?  One sided.  It seems he loves her, and she is meh about the whole thing.

"Honorable, unsatisfied, illicit-- /  Why bring it up? Just for the hell of it."  Here is the second mention of "honor" in the poem and it's brought up as a negative or at least something to be a bit angry with.  There's a sense of dialogue with the second line.

"The fever spread from poet to poet / Who burned in the high-minded hell of it."  Love spread?  Or the idea of this kind of love -- the cad who loves and sings for the married woman.

"But the Untouchable had him by the throat, / And he stopped singing for the hell of it."  So past me saw this as "Death."  But with the tone of this poem, this seems more of a lack of actualization.  He wasn't getting what he wanted, so he left.  So much for love, right?

"Love is a tower, a trance, a medieval pit. / When I lost you, I knew the hell of it."  When I first read this line I thought this was from the perspective of the female speaker since there's a shift between both the male and the female.

However, this could also be from the male perspective -- brokenhearted not being able to get his "love."

But the speaker's point of view is interesting -- inserting his voice when it comes to the characters, the poets, and what love is.   I think that's where the honor comes in.  The point of view doesn't allow the poem to be completely sincere and the "hell of it" but not so much of joke where the commentary becomes convoluted.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Analysis of "O Sweet Spontaneous" by E.E. Cummings

Original poem reprinted online here: "O Sweet Spontaneous" by E.E. Cummings
Originally read: October 14, 2013
More information about the Poet: E.E. Cummings


My copy says the title of this poem is "5."  A mistake on my part.

In any case, this poem works through innuendo; however, the relationship is between how certain people want to view, "O sweet spontaneous / earth" versus what the earth actually does.

The first group of people, the ones that have, "the / doting / fingers" are of "prurient philosophers."  The alliteration of the line adds a sense of humor to the situation, and the idea that these philosophers are "purient" (having lustful or lascivious thoughts" brings a humorous dirty-old-man feel.

     [...] pinched
     and

     poked
     thee
      , has the naughty thumb
     of science prodded
     thy

               beauty

Note how everything is aligned as though planned the further the poem.  Even the syntax of the comma is aligned bringing another layer of speed in this poem.  And when I mention speed the short lines slows down the reader because the use of alliteration forces the reader to differentiate between the same sonic sounds to get the "meaning"

And "pinched" and "poked" and "naughty" don't usually go with "science" so when the idea of "beauty" comes in -- the "earth" becomes more of a victim to these "philosophers."

But then the poem then addresses another group of people

                                [...] how
     often have religious taken
     thee upon their scraggy knees
     squeezing and

     buffeting thee that thou mightiest conceive
     gods

So one end of the spectrum -- dirty pervert philosophers and on the other naive forceful religious people forcing meaning (squeezing) out of the earth.  gods.
This places "earth" at the opposite spectrum -- the savior.

And, as usual, the parenthetical shows more of a grounded perspective

            (but
     true

     to the incomparable
     couch of death thy
     rhythmic
     lover

                  thou answerest

       them only with

                            spring)

Here is the key, the rhythmic lover as though going through cycles.  And even though the "earth" is spontaneous, as in not knowing exactly when a response will occur, is consistent with the type of response -- spring -- a simple changing of the seasons that doesn't change no matter the interpretations of philosophers or the religious.                    


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Analysis of "I carry your heart with me (i carry it in]" by E.E. Cummings

Original poem reprinted online here: "I carry your heart with me (i carry it in]" by E.E. Cummings
Originally read: October 14, 2013
More information about the Poet: E.E. Cummings


Syntax.  This is what the entire poem is based off of.  First though note that in this entire poem there is no other punctuation other than brackets or parenthesis.    Here's the thing as well.  With the title, the entire title is bracketed but there is an open parenthetical there as well.  For me, I take the brackets as more of a conceptual overview with the parenthetical being more of an emotional encapsulation opened up with the repetition of "carry" focusing more on the verb than the contents.

Even though the content of the first stanza is pretty straight forward, the syntax pushes for something more:

     i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
     my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
     i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
     by only me is your doing,my darling)

Note how the punctuation doesn't create space, but the words do.  Here the idea of closeness is amplified by this lack of of space.  Now the parenthetical shows more of an affirmation of love -- carrying and motivation.

The line by itself of "i fear" plays on the idea of the turn -- that there's something darker to this poem than it is.  But this is a trick of loving through negation:

     no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
     no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
     and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
     and whatever a sun will always sing is you

The poem takes away "fate" and the "world" and introduces bigger more grandiose comparison -- moon and sun = you.

and again the poet plays with the idea of something further hidden with the line, "here is the deepest secret nobody knows" which is explained in the parenthetical:

     (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
     and the sky of the sky of a tree called life,which grows
     higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
     and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

The secret is very, well, first starts out with calling the obvious the obvious which can be inferred that love is love.  Then the idea becomes a metaphor with "tree called life" -- a sort of investment made.  And this is what keeps stars apart -- the lack of investment to grow something which is better than have something bright, and wanted, off in the distance.

The last line, which is the first line as a full line, "i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) then goes back to the idea of the "root" and the "bud"  something that grows from below and then above.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Analysis of "Resumé" by Dorothy Parker

Original poem reprinted online here: "Resumé" by Dorothy Parker
Originally read: October 13, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dorothy Parker


So I'm looking up resume because I assumed I knew what the definition.

Resume -- "a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous experience, typically sent with a job application." or "a summary." How to interpret the title in context to the resume?  Especially an abab rhyme scheme one as well.

Well let's go down the list, "Razors pain you;" is a correlation line -- razor's cause pain, just like the next line, "Rivers are damp."  Past me noted at this point, "death/suicide tactics diffused for superfluous reasons."  Great, now why?

The list becomes easily diffused, "Acids stain you; / And drugs cause cramp"  I don't know any drugs that cause cramps, unless overdosed.  I think this is the point where the idea of suicide is tied down here.

And it's as though the speaker is just reaching for any reason to not kill oneself, "Guns aren't lawful;" is a more superfluous reason while "Nooses give" is the shortest line but has bigger implications (give) that can be overlooked.

"Gas smells awful" Car or something bigger, but this poem delves in with the personal.

"You might as well live"  when I saw the word "resume"  the last line came across as an objective in a resume. But the qualifications are based on either failed attempts or simple logic, perhaps both.  In either case, reasons do not need to be complex to live. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Analysis of "Just Another Paradigm Shift" by Paul Grant

Original poem reprinted online here: "Just Another Paradigm Shift" by Paul Grant
Originally read: October 13, 2013
More information about the Poet: Paul Grant


Reverse.  Is this another paradigm shift?  Past me stated "like ending credits -- but still within a paradigm"  and I think this is the point of the poem.  What can be viewed with the ending up front.

Well, the end is breft, "Just a shadow.  Hardly that. But audible"  The end lacks adubility, "Coming out of the woods, whispering / Happily ever after,"  And every shift in this poem comes from the misalignment of lines -- note that they are not stanza breaks.  The misalignment continues the backwards narrative.

                     Even in that light --
     stars with the skeletons of animals
     and old friends --
                     visible

Here is the play between structure and statement.  The statement goes against the "dark" the unseen.  Here, the visceral image of skeletons of animals and old friends are buffered by "stars" -- meaning they aren't actual, just a symbol.  But the play is with the white space.  The white space not only continues the narrative based on senses, but produces and reinforce questions.  Why the transition to lack of senses to something visceral yet buffered?  There are answers that are apparent (text) and not so much (white space).

The visual is then addressed through surrealism with the continuation of the stanza.  First the normal and general, "to the eye behind the one always / left open on the east side of the house, downhill"  note this is a grounded statement versus:

     Where the coffee trees
     and hemp and the graves of old dogs lie,
     buried themselves  in leaves and left
     to the sputtering wind of memory.

This feels like what the white space does in the poem -- adds something that couldn't be interpreted from the text.  Where would a reader get "coffee trees and hemp and the graves of old dogs" in this poem.  The white space allows the surrealism, allows the play, and the two lines about memory, I guess, a little cliche, but it's okay since the stanza stops right there.

And note the feeble attempt to connect both stanzas with the obvious ampersand.  but also note that part of the connected stanzas are stated in parentheticals -- more to hide:

     & if that's not enough (he says
     to himself in the voice of a black-and-white
     actor whose name is a moth that keeps
     avoiding the tip of his flaming tongue)

What's hidden, the voice.  Note also that this is not necessarily the speaker's voice, but the voice of an outside interpretation that is set to be obviously hidden -- like breaking the fourth wall.  And note that this point would be the rising action.  The stanza break is a climax unstated.

The poem then goes into the actions that lead to a climax -- two parties tying to get one to the other side, "to bring, you home, well, there / it is again," same paradigm. "already exhausted / by your efforts to make it / comfortable" these lines try to insert reasoning or in this case background to the situation.

Then the end goes to the beginning:

    [...]Impatient
                                already headed
     back down into the woods, whispering
     Once Upon A Time...

Yes, the poem goes cyclical.  The whispering in the beginning (end) is the same in the end (beginning), but this isn't much of a surprise since the title and the structure of the poem led to this point.  The key word here is "Impatient."  Why?  What does impatient refer to?  The "you"? Could be but it's not addressed in the sentence.

What is the white space hiding -- the subject.  So the subject who is impatient -- the character? The speaker? The reader? continues the cyclical end / beginning, not because of how the story goes, rather that the subject interprets these actions to be linear.  We've seen it before, let's see it again.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Analysis of "A Sunrise Song" by Sidney Lanier

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Sunrise Song" by Sidney Lanier
Originally read: October 9, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sidney Lanier


Quatrains with an "abab" rhyme scheme.  I think I chose this poem because I didn't understand all the allusions, but I wanted to.  So when I looked them up for the first time, I read a strong sense of spirituality and region in this poem -- which, essentially, what allusion does.

So my rant about allusion is this.  Yes, it's a good way to tie in multiple ideas down to a symbol or a sign, but it's up to the speaker to make the allusion interesting enough for people to look it up.  Also, a poem too dependent on allusion risks apathy.  Why am I reading this poem instead of the source material?  It's the balance.

In any case, the first stanza in the poem has words indicating imperialism:

     Young palmer sun, that to these shining sands
     Pourest thy pilgrim's tale, discoursing still
     Thy silver passages of sacred lands
     With news of Sepulcher and Dolorous Hill.

For me, I wanted to understand what palmer meant -- pilgrim.  So for this first stanza there's an establishment of mysticism and tale with the "discoursing" and "shining sands"  but there's also the idea of "sacred" which begs the question who is the speaker?  It's the idea of reverence that keeps me going:

     Canst thou be he that, yester-sunset warm,
     Purple with Paynim rage and wreck desire,
     Dashed ravening out of a dusty lair of Storm,
     Harried the west, and set the world on fire?

Here the references become more grandiose with each line.   Note the form of a question in which the speaker questions not only who "he" is but what "he" is currently doing.  I believe the "he" mentioned in the first line is "God" -- or, if not, someone with a complex of "rage and wreck desire" and having these emotions, "harried the west, and set the world on fire?"  As far as the imperialism argument goes, "harried the west" feels like manifest destiny, but I might be looking into things too much.

     Hast thou perchance repented, Saracen Sun?
     Wilt warm the word with peace and dove-desire?
     Or with thou, are this very day be done,
     Blaze-Saladin still, with unforgiving fire?

Saracen refers to the "Arab, crusades?"  or at least that's what I put down in my notes.  Note how this is a continuation of the rhetorical questions, but the stanza break changes the questioning a bit from "who" to "judgment."  Has the he repented, is the word enough, or is burning enough?  The key to this poem is knowing who he refers to, and I'm not sure.  There's a case that "he" refers imperialism like I mentioned since the poem goes to the grandiose and conceptual.  But what if this poem referred to a group of people -- yes, my thoughts went to "Arab."  But in the context of the poem, what does this mean?  Or more importantly, what time frame?

Or, let's be honest, maybe I'm looking too much into the poem and this poem is about the Sun.  It is hot and it does set fire to the world.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Analysis of "Number 20" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Original poem reprinted online here: "Number 20" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Originally read: October 9, 2013
More information about the Poet: Lawrence Ferlinghetti


This poem has elements of E.E. Cummings with the compound words like "pennycandystore" and the adjusted alignment.  But these techniques add to the core of the poem of "childhood."

     The pennycandystore beyond the El
     is where I first
                 fell in love
                             with unreality

The poem starts out with a narrative hook of "first love" but then that hook is dashed away with "unreality" and so the poem goes towards a a surreal effect, "Jelly beans glowed in the semi-gloom / of that septemeber afternoon / A cat upon the counter moved among"  and here with these lines there's an added sense of ambiance.  Something bright in the bland.  And a "cat moving" indicates more of a transition to something.

                                 the licorice sticks
                    and and tootsie rolls
         and oh boy Gum

Note the descent of the mood which is parallel to how the speaker feels.  Is it too much?  Well, not up until this point "Outside the leaves were falling as they died" which is a good line, but a little bit hyperbolic which is then outdone with, "A wind had blown away the sun."

Why these sudden shifts of moods and images?  "A girl ran in / Her hair was rainy / Her breasts were breathless in the little room"

Note the focus of the image here by the speaker, also note how concrete these images are compared to how the other images are handled.  These lines plus the cat movement lines are the most focused.

     Outside the leaves were falling
                     and they cried
                                 Too soon! too soon!

My automatic thought was "puberty" -- that the loss of innocence ends abruptly here; however, the leaves line refers back to the "outside" line earlier, and the question now being is there something more than puberty being discussed in the lass three lines.

Of course.  But what I don't know since the idea of puberty is so strong in the poem and played up on two hyperbolic extents: candy to sexuality.  But I do know that the repetition of leaves brings a cyclical style to the poem.  Of course this situation repeats itself.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Analysis of "Double" by Rae Armantrout

Original poem reprinted online here:   "Double" by Rae Armantrout
Originally read: October 9, 2013
More information about the Poet: Rae Armantrout


From the outset the form is duplicated.  Superficial, yes.  But when a poem starts out with "Double" there is an expectation of something either is added or is duplicated.


     So these are the hills of home.  Hazy tiers
     nearly subliminal.  To see them is to see
     double, hear bad puns delivered with a wink.
     And untoward familiarity

Past me noted things like "duplicitous housing?  Multiples of the same thing?" And after reading this stanza, not so much this.  This stanza is focusing on the interpretation of the "hills" which are of home and so the see the signifier is a match to the idea of bad puns -- as though we are forced to understand the same meaning.

The untoward familiarity line plays with the idea of motion.  This line shows stagnation, and enforces it through awkward negation.  "Untoward"  where we are not moving, that makes us familiar with our surroundings.  The last stanza shifts the perspective a bit:

     Rising from my sleep, the road is more
     and less the road.  Around that bend are pale
     houses, airs of junipers.  Then to look
     reveals no more.

Here is the key here -- the difference between see and look.  See is more of a in depth verb in the poem, especially used in the first stanza where the speaker is introducing more and more meaning to the "hills."

The second stanza is quite opposite.  "the road is more / and less the road."  This is a play with the idiom "more or less."  With this line the speaker is not adding meaning rather is confirming that a road is defined as more and less.  There are houses, and "airs" of junipers.

Look is cursory verb used here in which the speaker doesn't interpret more. Is this the difference between awake and deep sleep?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Analysis of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas
Originally read: October 9, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dylan Thomas




This is not the only thing to know about this poem.  I know this poem is used as the "best" example of a villanelle, but the one thing to try to figure out as a reader is why?  Why this form?  Why the repetition?

So based on the first stanza, "Do not go gentle into that good night. / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light" the refrain lines are, "Do not go gentle into that good night" which is a request from the speaker, and "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" which is more of a command made by the speaker to the subject.

Each stanza thereafter talks about different types of "men" in the second stanza, "Though wise men at their end know dark is night / Because their words had forked no lightning they / Do not go gentle into that good night." The knowledge that men have to go, even though there's more to write or say.

"Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright / Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, / Rage, rage against the dying of the light."  Yes, this could reference a war, but any war could suffice here.  What these lines address is more of pride.  The want of actions to mean something more than "frail"  -- this is where the rage comes in.  Rage is the motivation to go further.

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,"  A reference to Icarus and Daedalus perhaps, or maybe something more modern like pilots -- in either case, "And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, / Do not go gentle into that good night." The big question is what does the "way" refer to?  Logically, I think it's the sun; however, since the sun is a metaphor based on "flight" the image could refer to age or time or anything mentioned above.

"Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight," Post Oedipus? Tiresias, "Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay / Rage, rage against the dying of the light"    Instilling life in the near dead -- even for that second could still do a lot -- create a lot.

     And you, my father, there on that sad height
     Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray
     Do not go gentle into that good night.
     Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The main subject appears in the last stanza like a volta.  The father here feels like the culmination of all the men stated above: wise, good, wild, and grave, and the speaker is trying to prod the father to react.  But in the end, it is the speaker that reacts.  The speaker prays.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Analysis of "The End of the Weekend" by Anthony Hecht

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The End of the Weekend" by Anthony Hecht
Originally read: October 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Anthony Hecht


If you took Samuel Maio's class on anything poetry related (research or workshop), then you ran into this poem.   And no matter how many times we went over the poem, the professor always had his sympathies for the speaker.

The poem is in rhymed sestets with the rhyme scheme of abcbca.  I think the important thing to note is the wide separation of the "a" rhyme with the disjointedness of the "bc" rhymes which foreshadow the speakers separation of the moment.

But the moment is this currently, "A dying firelight slides along the quirt / Of the cast iron cowboy where he leans / Against my father's books."  So the zoom focus of a fire, a hearth perhaps, and of a symbol -- note that this leads to the realm of narrative, "The lariat / Whirls into darkness.  My girl in skin tight jeans / fingers a page of Captain Marriat"  Okay, so the rhyme is a bit out there; however note the attention to darkness and the equal attention to jeans.  Note the split.  The speaker is aware of both and is now transitioning, "Inviting insolent shadows to her skirt."

Romance?  More of a togetherness where, "We rise together to the second floor, / Outside, across the lake, an endless wind / Whips against the headstones of the dead and wails"  Yes, the situation is there, even slight, of having sex, but note the speaker's mind is, again, not in the scene, rather outside to the dead, "In the trees for all who have and have not sinned / She rubs against me and I feel her nails. / Although we are alone, I lock the door."  The key word with this part is "sinned," according to my professor?  Why?  Here, the speaker does actions as though he is judged and the scale is on "sin."  This is a pretty hefty scale of comparison, but the mindset of the speaker fluctuates on scale pretty fast -- from darkness to sex to even more darkness to even more sex.

The idea of sin and religious undertone becomes solidified with the line, "The eventual shapes of all our formless prayers."  With the rest of this stanza note how the transitions become more hurried as the actions slips away to the mental state:

     This dark, this cabin of loose imaginings
     Wind, lip, lake, everything awaits,
     The slow unloosening of her underthings
     And then the noise.  Something is dropped. It grates
     against the attic beams.  I climb the stairs
     Armed with a belt

     A long magnesium shaft

So here the imaginings of the dark and the body goes away to the immediate sound that the speaker has to check.  But the mindset the speaker has about the sound is full of dark, sin, and judgment.

And when the speaker discovers the, "A great black presence beats ts wings in wrath"  the symbol is a culmination of the sin, dark, judgement.  What's being judged?  "Above the boneyard burn its golden eyes / Some small grey fur is pulsing in its grip"  DEATH!  No not really, judgement that pulsates, reverbarates, continues in the claws of the shade.

Is the speaker the mouse at the end...metaphorically.  There's a strong argument for this.  The speaker and the mouse are both caught in the "dark."  And so the "End of the Weekend" is the one with the woman -- the escape perhaps.  The struggle with the dark -- always eternal.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Analysis of "It Is Marvellous..." by Elizabeth Bishop

Original poem reprinted online here:  "It Is Marvellous..." by Elizabeth Bishop
Originally read: October 7, 2013
More information about the Poet: Elizabeth Bishop


This Elizabeth Bishop poem caught me off guard.  The poem seems deeply personal, but when I read the poem again, the tone is more of a discussion of romance -- the outsider perspective -- rather than being in one.

"It is marvellous to wake up together / At the same minute, marvellous to hear / The rain begin suddenly all over the roof"  The first three lines focuses on the scene of the poem as the image of the rain falling is combined with a couple waking up -- what colors this image is the idea of "marvellous" and the continuous usage of the word starts to have me disbelieve its meaning.

"To feel the air clear / As if electricity passed through it / From a black mesh of wires in the sky"  Cliche.  The simile is referring to the sound of rain falling on the roof, but also can be contrasted by the relationship.  Not only are the last three lines cliche, but also the rhyming couplet at the end, "All over the roof the rain hisses, / And below, the light falling of kisses" has a huge sentimental feel over it -- it's cute, it's sticky sweet, but the lines create a separation, the rain and what's underneath which is a foreshadow of, you guessed it, the relationship in turmoil.

"An electrical storm is coming or moving away, / It is the prickling air that wakes us up. / if lightning struck the house now, it would run"  Now here's the interesting part with these three lines. The specifics of the atmosphere separates the real from the imagines -- yes, comparative analogy with the relationship is there, but note if the "prickling air that wakes us up" with prickling having a positive connotation when first read, and more of a negative connotation when looked back upon because of the following line of the actual lightning causing damage, "From the four blue china balls on top / Down the roof and down the rods all around us / And we imagine dreamily"  the last line I quoted could go with these three lines or with the couplet before.  But note how the lightning is "grounded" but the couple "imagine dreamily".  It's as if the physical real is there or diffused, and the dream in the form of the cliche and the sentimental has to continue, "How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning / Would be quite delightful rather than frightening."  The tone has a hint of cynicism because the emotion has to be explained -- delightful rather than frightening.

"And from the same simplified point of view / Of night and lying flat on one's back / All things might change equally easily" And now the shift of point of view just stated on the page, but also note that adverbs used here demonstrate a shift in language -- the action changes equally and easily, but the scene is, basically, the same.

"Since always to warn us there must be these black / Electrical wires dangling, Without surprise / The world might change to something quite different."  The key to these three lines is the "Without surprise" as though the speaker is able to see the shift coming.  Note the usage of image of "black" and how the wires are used more as a grounding effect.  And so the speaker is thinking clearly.

"As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking, / Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking"  Yes, using an -ing verb for the final couplet is easy, but note how quickly the speaker could ward off the foreboding feeling of being "grounded" and change back to the lightning which changes -- just like the meaning behind the kisses.  More? Less?  It's not about that.  Don't worry about what may be, rather note that things change.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Analysis of "Unharvested" by Robert Frost

Original poem reprinted online here: "Unharvested" by Robert Frost
Originally read: October 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Robert Frost


An Elizabethan sonnet separated out with a ten line stanza and then a quatrain.  However, the first stanza could be separated out by two quatrains.

     A scent of ripeness from over a wall
     And come to leave the routine road
     And look for what had made me stall,
     There sure enough was an apple tree.

Cause and effect.  The speaker here is on a "routine road"  and then stops with the smell of "ripeness"  -- presumably apples or something more.  What this stanza does is focus the poem to what the scent means to the speaker.

     That had eased itself of its summer load,
     And of all but its trivial foliage free
     Now breathed as light as a lady's fan
     For there had been an apple fall

Note the play of language coinciding with the seasons -- summer as the season, fall as the verb.  But note the focus on the visual, the "ripeness" is from the end of cycle -- the last load of a tree.  And note how the simile is to a "lady's fan" which has pointed implications to something like a relationship or the past.

     As complete as the apple had given man
     The ground was one circle of solid red

     May something go always unharvested!
     May much stay out of our started plan.

Here the speaker is solid in his lesson.  Note that the mention of man here can have implications to Genesis and the question can be what has the apple given man?  However, the lesson of "much stay out of our started pan" feels more like the speaker impressing than interpreting the scene.  Is it really out of plan to have the apple fall?

"Apples or something forgotten and left, / So smelling their sweetness would be no theft"  So, if the apple (or "started plans") go awry, the "smell" of would be "no theft" -- here's where the poem gets tricky for me.  Not theft as in no stealing anything, or no theft as in not theft, rather the opposite, responsibility.

The images are strong here, the poem though has different enough avenues to be taken into different interpretations.  I can't pinpoint one though (one hour later) I still can't pinpoint one, but what's going through my head is: adultery, Genesis, power, structure, nature, natural fall, unnatural fall, seasons, smell, what is smell in conjunction with memory, what is taken from a fleeting sensation?  etc...yeah, sorry bout that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Analysis of "Incomplete Lioness" by Linda Bierds

Original poem reprinted online here: "Incomplete Lioness" by Linda Bierds
Originally read: October 4, 2013
More information about the Poet: Linda Bierds


A part of me knows this is an eckphrastic piece because of the reference in the beginning, but I don't know the art piece this refers to.  But the description of the sculpture opens interpretations to craft.

But first a comparison, "or lion"  which indicates something gender-centric, or an incomplete lioness is equivalent to "a lion" -- this is what I mean by open interpretations using an either/or strategy, and specific language based on construction, "affixed to a bone-like armature, just a flank / and scored shoulder, and far down the missing / crouching shape, a single, splay- toed paw."  Art is about the small, but specific details like "missing" and "scored" could be interpreted as interpretations based on craft, "The companion, or mate, is better formed / and offers a template to trace a bit, image to absence / to memory, until lioness fills"  The comparison to a complete form versus an incomplete one.  Note, there's no judgement calls here and this is key to open interpretations.

The next stanza opens outward with the naming of the exhibit, and then the different parts of the museum where, "the painter, retinas tattered / as a saint's hem, might have filled a lioness / differently: absence first, then memory."  Note the different reiteration of memory in these lines along with the idea of the creator versus the creation.

And then note how the creator and the creation blurs in the third stanza with, "His century failed him, / a placard says"  not a judgement call from history or the speaker, but a placard so the failure is mostly a snapshot rather than insight, "nearsightedly, which would explain / the perfect stones, less perfect trees. Or perhaps / his partial sightlessness was corneal" and here the speaker is trying to figure out the base of "loss of something" can be constructed -- nearsightedness? which then leads to, "and thus / the painter's mood, front-lit gauze."  The mood adds to the absence.

But then the speaker used the either/or dilemma to branch out, "In either case, what the painter knew--that his saint / and tiny crucifix, would not adorn an altar piece -- / comes to us more slowly."  Here is the separation between the creator and the viewer comes to view rather than implied.  It's the ability to comprehend for those who can see versus the ability to create for those whose vision are tampered with.

     Vacancy and memory.  Ecstasy and penitence.
     And then, His partial vision of the whole 
     produced a partial masterpiece:
     a saint--Jerome--and grizzled robe, flawless
     in its dust.  The rest is incomplete, but zero-mass

Does absence mean partial?  And what are the repercussions.  Now, what's more focused on what's here or what isn't?  Is something not there "zero-mass"?  These are the questions brought up near the end.  The approach of this poem is context, and then questions that aren't questions -- rather interpretations taking the forefront.

"Jerome as just two simple lines, what are / across white axis--before they both were white-"  Note the lack of color becoming apparent.

"washed over, and the saint began, / and umber brought the lion to him."  Note that the word "umber" is the partial; however, the absence bring absence.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Analysis of "Blues" by Alice Bolin

Original poem reprinted online here: "Blues" by Alice Bolin
Originally read: October 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Alice Bolin


The opening three lines set a typical narrative response with the focus on the setting, "A train fills our horizon, boxcars fan out / into embrace, it wide order.  A moving west. / To make no attempt at an index"  then the switch happens with the anaphora of wrong, "wrong girl, wrong summer, wrong car" which indicates a shift, right?

The listing of "wrong" feels more nostalgic, then regret, and just like "Blues" there's a delicate play of regret and wanting to go back to the past, "We chased us from this coast and the radio / mildewed, tin songs palpable as maps."  And even though mildewed could be an image of decay (foreshadow actually), here the poem starts to become tangible -- rather than an expanse the details is close, event with tone, "How do you like that!"

But then the poem shifts to the expanse again, "To search the interstate / and find everything fugitive.  Touch / the radial dial light like a Ouija board."  Note the image always go back to "wrong"  with fugitive and perhaps Ouija (dependent on outlook I suppose), but note the next line, "and we give it our wishes."  Nostalgic.

     [...] Is it normal
     in these mountains to see a wild turkey?
     Is it normal to wear a dress
     that describes your skin?

Now these rhetorical questions kind of come off as creepy, well, the dress that describes your skin, isn't the most pleasant of descriptions to me; however, note how these questions deter from the "we" narrative built up here as though to force a separation, but, "Meanwhile / we spend daylight avoiding neighbors, / making simple escapes," and I contend the the rhetorical questions are those "simple escapes" just like the "oujia" because they are out there.

So why this push and pull based on nostalgia?  I think this strengthens the regret which, based on the title, will come.  "Don't worry dear, a ballad is just / a slo-o-ow song."  This seems personal like how the we "wait hours humming / at a railroad crossing--good thing a summer / swell then shortens."

Then the list sequence, "Continents, / drugstore breakfasts, our names / and nightly bodies" seems more like a comparison on how the poem is structured from the expanse to the personal with something that derails the expanse (escape) to the personal (nostalgia).

"In my mind it's already over." What makes the poem for me at the end is how clear the speaker is about things being over when the poem goes in a slew of different directions.  It's kind of like "My mind's not right" in "Skunk Hour." But at the same time, the sincerity of the line is hard to pull off as a stand alone (the difference between "Blues" last line, and "Skunk Hour" mid line).  I think if I read this poem twenty more times, the appeal and sincerity of the last line would wear off, maybe.  But it's strong to me at this moment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Analysis of "Said to Have Been Heard to Say Hush" by Nathaniel Mackey

Original poem reprinted online here: "Said to Have Been Heard to Say Hush" by Nathaniel Mackey
Originally read: October 2, 2013
More information about the Poet: Nathaniel Mackey



The very first thing I write about this poem is "go back to poets.org" to understand "mu"

“The ‘Mu’ series of which this poem is a part rings changes on its title’s various meanings and associations:  muthos (mouth, myth), music, muse, the emotional interjection mu, the lost continent of Mu said to have existed in the Pacific, etc.  Lately, as in this poem, a strong accent falls on its Japanese meanings, ‘not,' ‘non-,' ‘nothing,' ‘no,' and its place in the Zen tradition.” —Nathaniel Mackey

And, honestly, if I didn't read that, I probably wouldn't "understand" the poem as one of play and slipstream connections.

So this poem is quite hard to analyze on a stanza by stanza basis because the poem plays with lyric and narrative, image and language, nothing and more nothing -- not to compare or add on -- as an analysis of the term itself.  I'm afraid I don't know where to start.

Well, there's always the beginning, and the first thing I noticed is the first line how "its" used, "Remembered moment lamenting / its exit, the anaphylectic aria / fell away"  and I feel the usage of the word buffers the core of the line, and overexemplifies the before and after effects: lament -- anaphylectic aria (which is the precursor of the word play in the poem

The next part I noticed is still in the first stanza, "What beauty promised or / we projected faded, we moved / on,"  Past me wrote, "reasons to leave -- aesthetics or aesthetically.   And I think I'm meaning the search for something more.

The idea of abandonment of something past for something ideal continues with the structure of the poem -- there's the play in alliteration, "Wind wrinkled" a play on variation, "cried cry."  And then the poem relates to  jazz, "men- / acing shook it, Joe Henderson's tenor. / Not's woken-up-to-now we backed away / from, Little Johnnie C, 'Hobo Joe'" and note the names mentioned here is more of a placement mark of direction where to go to for "beauty.

I mark a stanza and point to the word "lytic" as in referring to the disease.  And note that the poem continues to play like this at this point the connection of language and sound.  This the meaning without configuring meaning, "between said and saw."

But from this moment  I noted how health oriented the speaker gets and how there's a sense of movement -- based on health issues or a sense of disorientation, "Not was another name for /death I was afraid and afraid my feet / would fall,  Idiot Footless."

Then there's the realization of what song, what beauty is lead to:

     us the ghost octet kept at it, thread on
    the box and on the backs of our necks,
        hair stood on the backs of our necks.
                                                        Bal-

A sense of death but not death.  There's the interplay of death, of a swan song here, "The sense / we were being shadowed had hold of us."  That at this moment the "tiptoe ghost we could see now, shushed / as we were" The play becomes somewhat serious now -- gone is the music of the lines, language, and scene and now replaced with

(slogan)

What does the poem relate to.  The stanzas after the slogan -- or this could be looked at as a commercial envoy or a pop summerization:

    even it was worried what I was... So it
     was green loomed outside my window,
  draw light in Low Forest I was wise to,
     saw thru, aroused by light's reluctance
                                                      but
     not be caught out, now way could I be wise
   
   enough I
    knew

Past me wrote "not wise (learning from experience) but experienced (living within the scene)."  Yeah, the speaker is wise enough to not get caught, but the poem is not about the wise versus experience past me.  Look at hose the speaker separates wise (experience) and knew (instinct).  Yeah, it's a summary in the sense that this closes out the scenes, and most of the experience, but the instinct lingers just as the adjusted words at the end of stanzas, or the connections made through language as though to hang on, barely.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Analysis of "As You Never Bothered to Return My Call" by August Kleinzahler

Original poem reprinted online here: "As You Never Bothered to Return My Call" by August Kleinzahler
Originally read: September 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: August Kleinzahler

Lament.  From the very beginning the speaker plays with lament and, more specifically, sentimentality.

With the first few lines there's a juxtaposition of wants, "What I had wanted was to be chaste, / sober and uncomfortable" it's not like the last part of "uncomfortable" undercuts the desire to be chaste and sober, but there isn't a "linear" progression.  For example, wanting to be uncomfortable isn't a usual want and neither is, "for a sprawling episode on a beach somewhere / dirty, perennially out of fashion;" Note the semi-colon which connects this sort of linearity with this idea, "some kid gave up on only half-way through / and left to go warm in the sand."  Lament, staying in one place.  The "kid" leaving to someplace warm could be a strong symbolic meaning of the opposite of what the speaker is doing.

But then there's a shift of scenery, but not necessarily "warm" scenery:

      The train ride would be long and hot,
      and you, you've had it with men
      Me . . .
              I'm sickened by the pronoun

Note how the break still transitions tactile from warm to hot, but also note that juxtaposition and the sense of irony with the last three lines.  "You" is a pronoun and specifically hates men. So when the speaker declares, "I'm sickened by the pronoun" who is the speaker referring to? You, men, or "me"?  All of the above.  Note how the poem at this point is the most general, but has the most direction, versus the first stanza which was specific but stayed still.

"Tenderness seems as far away as Sioux City / and besides, it would have cost too much. / But you should have called."  Here is the line.  The sentiment starts to appear with "tenderness" and although there's a realization which places, I wouldn't say blame, but importance, "But you should have called" -- now, refer back to the first stanza in which it states, "What I had wanted".  There's a possibility that without this call, the speaker couldn't live the life wanted.

Now the speaker presses the sentimentality issue with being more in the dream ideal, "If only since a preposterous little episode like this / is just the stuff to scare off extra friends,"  Not the displacement (or attempt to) of emotions.  The speaker demeans the last stanza as preposterous and little in which scares off extra friends -- it's as though, at this moment, the speaker is able to let go.  Until, "And us. . ."

"And us. . ." it's the going back to us,and the ellipses which brings the speaker back to the memory and back to lamenting, "What an impertinence, us."  The speaker tries to separate the sentiment with somewhat out there ideas:

     We could have played gin rummy and taken a stroll
     into town or along the boardwalk, maybe
                                    with dear old Godzilla,
     the first one, the best one, the 1954 one,
     reprising his role this one last time, raising himself up
     over the horizon at dusk,
   

The mention of Godzilla, walking around the boardwalk, and playing gin rummy all seem distant as far as action, but note that the "reprising his role this one last time, raising himself up" has multiple implications.  How?  Maybe the ghost of the other is reprising the same big role.  Or how about the speaker is lamenting "the first one, the best one" -- the lines have multiple meanings that can lead to sentimentality, but I think the out there ideas save it.

Up until this point, "and hurrying us to a place we never would have / dreamt of / going" the reference back to the "us" brings the poem back to that line of sentiment.  Yes, the lines somewhat closes and somewhat the door of the relationship.  But is that necessary?  I think I liked the ambiguous descriptors and how they operated more than the end.  I wonder if Godzilla gets cold in the ocean.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Analysis of "Native Trees" by W.S. Merwin

Original poem reprinted online here: "Native Trees" by W. S. Merwin
Originally read: September 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: W. S. Merwin



I feel everything in this poem is dependent on unpacking the image of "Trees", but also how the image of trees relate to the idea of "Native" since the poem goes in one trajectory, a straight forward narrative based on on knowledge, but could expand to multiple trajectories of family, past, connection which pervades either strongly or weakly throughout the poem.

"Neither my father nor my mother knew / the names of the trees / where I was born" past me noted, "tying in definition: trees, self"  and I think this is me overreaching here too early.  What's the most important aspect of the first three lines is the idea of naming and what defines naming for the speaker.

     what is that
     I asked and my
     father and mother did not
     hear they did not look where I pointed
     surfaces of furniture held
     the attention of their fingers

Here the lack of punctuation brings a feel of a memory in which these lines depend on the vague to construct a point.  Why did they ignore the young speaker?  Who knows, but the focus is on the "surfaces of furniture" and this is where the multiple meanings could be brought in: time, industry, neglect, age, etc.  The shift in generalities shift the poem to stir a meaning.

     and across the room they could watch
     walls they had forgotten
     where there were no questions
     no voices and no shade

I highlighted "shade" because there could be a reference to the Jungian with the juxtaposition of "forgotten walls" and "no voice and no shade."  But these section feels like a conclusion of a train of thought that attributed the silence between the speaker and parents to the overall general.

And since there's no affirmation of the existence of trees through naming, the speaker goes back to the idea of the trees, "Were there trees / where they were children /where I had not been" The images blur between trees and children and in this confusion -- the speaker asks again:

     I asked
     were there trees in those places
     where my father and my mother were born
     and in that time did
     my father and mother see them

Remember this is a continuation of the question: in what extent (time, industry, neglect, age, etc.) can the mother and father figure remember the names of trees -- a time gone by perhaps?  Or remember anything at all."

"and when they said yes it meant / they did not remember"  note that the inference of the speaker leads to not remembering based on a yes.  The parental figures answer the question, but don't open up about it.  The funny thing with this line is that "meant" doesn't solidify an answer, but opens more questions.

"What were they I asked what were they / but both my father and my mother / said they never knew."  I feel these lines are extraneous and the bigger impact is the inference of the speaker in the previous two lines.  However, I find these lines interesting in the fact that they lead back to the parents and not end with the speaker.  It's as though the speaker wants the parental figures to state "never" as though to catch them in a lie.  "Never" is a loaded word that could refer to the state of forgetting based on those qualifiers mentioned above.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Analysis of "Sonnet -- To Science" by Edgar Allen Poe

Original poem reprinted online here: "To Science" by Edgar Allen Poe
Originally read: September 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: Edgar Allen Poe



This Elizabethan sonnet has something to say -- at least a strong stance.  Well, the first line, "Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!" starting out with two exclamation mark indicates some sort of emotion.  Forced?  Yup.  In any case the speaker is creating a figure -- a "true daughter" to point out and describe.

"Who alterest all things withy thy peering eyes. / Why prayest thou thus upon the poet's heart. / Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?"  So at the end of this quatrain the daughter is compared to a Vulture which is a strong sentiment; however, I think the key to this poem is the progression of the speaker who sees this daughter as someone who alters things, but then the speaker is the one who alters her at the end.  Also note that the "poet's heart" is not necessarily the speakers, but there's a high probability (due to the speaker's shift) that the speaker sees himself with a poet's heart.

And in the next part, I think the he refers to the "poet." " How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise, / Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering"  Note the shift between a found connection with the "daughter" and the wanderings of the "poet" who instead wanders for the sake of searching for love, "To seek for treasure in the jeweled skies, / Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?"  Note the second reference to wing here -- the her has wings that blur, he has wings that soar.

If the "thou" in the third quatrain is science, note the number of allusions falling:

     Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
          And driven the Hamadryed from the wood
     To seek a shelter in some happier star?
           Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood

The Diana reference is taken off her car, and the Naiad reference is removed from her flood -- not that the women here are noted without.  The key to this quatrain is the third line -- the happier star, although a generality, is specific here because there's no association to a specific allusion here.

"The Elfin from the green grass, and from me / The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree". Past me noted, "Fantasy: destroyed? retooled?"  I think a little of both. The grass is the only thing that the speaker "experiences" rather than thinks about.  This is kind of funny in the sense that the speaker shows how science takes away through his thoughts, but when it comes down to experience, it doesn't seem to faze "the dream."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Analysis of "The Man with the Hoe" by Edwin Markham

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Man with the Hoe" by Edwin Markham
Originally read: September 28, 2013
More information about the Poet: Edwin Markham



This poem is an eckphrastic piece based on this painting by Millet.


What the speaker does in the poem is relate the singular image to an expansive one and back to a singular one again -- as though to dig for apparent meaning.

"Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans / Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground /The emptiness of ages in his face."  already the speaker is going for a very broad rhetoric with general terms like "centuries" and "emptiness" appropriated to the man in the portrait who is now become more of a symbol for the reader to sympathize with.

For the man is, "made him dead to rapture and despair / A thing that grieves not and that never hopes / Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?"  Beast of burden.  The speaker is adding more and more meaning to his propped up symbol against another symbol of those that "made him" this way.

The list of rhetorical questions transforms the symbol into the beast of burden:

     Who loosened and let down the brutal jaw?
     Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
     Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
     Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
     To have dominion over sea and land
     To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
     To face the passion of Eternity?

Note how the transformation focuses on the symbol then expands outward to the divine.  And note the divine here is used somewhat cynically -- who has dominion over beasts -- man.  But who makes a man into a beast -- man? Divine?

The rest of the stanza faces the divine, so if heavenly will pushes man back down then "hell" does this:

     There is no shape more terrible than this --
     More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed --
     More filled with signs and portents for the soul --
     More fraught with menace to the universe.

The key here is the use of repetition: anaphora of more and dashes to simulate a build up of want.  More things is needed, but with more there's greed and menace.

And then there is the stanza break, but not a break in the momentum.  The break serves as a focusing device with, "What gulfs between him and the seraphim! / Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him / Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?"  In one way these lines are trying to find meaning with the man now a beast of burden.  Knowledge means nothing to someone meant only to work.  And this work is central to progress but with a price, "Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop; / Through this dread shape humanity betrayed," with the divine still pushing man down, "Plundered, profaned and disinherited, / Cries protest to the Judges of the World, / A protest that is also prophecy"

The last line transitions to the next stanza and places the speaker as a prophet for protesting, "O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, / Is this the handiwork you give to God,"  Now here the divine is separated into two groups -- God's work, and man, taking up the name of the divine's work.  And what is presented, "This monstrous thing distorted and soul quenched?"  And with the rest of the stanza there's a call to change what is being made with "music and the dream"  But note here the stanzas getting shorter and shorter -- the focus and direction is clear.

The speaker asks this big rhetorical question, "O master, lords and rulers in all lands,/ How will the Future reckon with this Man?"  The previous stanza talked about the present, the ones before that the past, and here we get to see the prophecy through questions, "How answer his brute question in that hour / When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?"  Even beasts rebel like angels when pushed with the aftermath being, "When this dumb Terror shall reply to God / After the silence of the centuries?"  Silence, dumb, a reply that is not a reply.