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?