Original poem reprinted online here: "The Fable" by Yvor Winters
Originally read: November 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Yvor Winters
The use of adjectives in this poem stands out for me, even from the first line, "Beyond the steady rock the steady sea" the adjectives don't add much to the image, but a lot to the line -- a forced alliteration, the redundancy of "steady" affirming the scene, but this is supported by the next line of "In movement more immovable than station." The juxtaposition and play of language with "move" and "immovable" brings a push and pull with the poem. Affirmation of both same and different language.
"Gathers and washes and is gone. It comes / A slow obscure metonymy of motion" What does it mean in this poem? Note how there are two descriptors of it -- the physical (steady, movable/immovable, gather and washes) and the language (metonymy). So metonymy is a key word in which it is now confirmed that the "it" is more representational on both the physical and language plains. What does it mean though?
Not answered with the next four lines, but expanded upon:
Crumbling the inner barriers of the brain
But the crossed rock braces the hills and makes
A steady quiet of the steady music,
Massive with peace
The first line, "Crumbling the inner barriers of the brain" seems so against this poem image wise, but feels right in a flow sense. If talking about language, then then the "it" takes down barriers -- language always seeps in, however how an individual takes the language "steady quiet of steady music" is a sense of forced stabilization. The mind makes peace of anything it braces.
The drop down line brings in a sense of the speaker trying to reasons why "it" is with, "And listen, now:"
These are the actual sounds and scenes, "The foam receding down the sand silvers / Between the grains, thin, pure as virgin words, / Lending a sheen to Nothing, whispering." These are very heady concepts and images. Foam? words?
Here's my take, note the downward momentum of the images (receding) goes down to the core -- the sand, the "virgin" words. Something not looked upon, but what does this mean? Nothing.
"It" is "nothing." The further and further down the poem goes to the language and image level, there is nothing there. This nothing breaks the mind. This nothing forces a stabilization. Yet, nothing whispers. Note not saying something, but breathing out something.
This feels like a criticism to Hart Crane's style. Can someone tell me if I'm in the right direction, or just plain wrong. K thanks.