Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Analysis of "Separation is the necessary condition for light." by Brian Teare

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Separation is the necessary condition for light." by Brian Teare
Originally read: October 21, 2013
More information about the Poet: Brian Teare



Written in tercets, the poem forces the separation through the adjusted stanzas.  I've been reading this poem for a while and I'm not too sure how to read this poem.  The simplest answer is to go top down, left right, but the poem can be read based on columns as well -- left column and right column.  You know what, why not?  I've read some criticism of this poem that goes the top down, left right, angle, but I'm going to try to do the left column and right column reading.

So on the left column, there are five stanzas of tercets, and on the right there are four stanzas of tercets.

The left column does more of the set-up while the right column does more of the introspection.  With the left column the poem starts with the speaker carrying an abandoned mattress to the attic, and then relates this scene to, "I was glad to see him / to remember when / the fathers seemed."  Now this is the tricky part -- "seemed. / their names"  Here's why this works.  The memory of the father is turned around because the speaker is not only going by the general of "fathers" and the ideological stance of "seem"  -- fathers could be, should be, perhaps fathers.

Yeah the next two stanzas I'm probably stretching since combined they make little sense:


     [...] a stand
     of them across the field
     I want to say autumn

     and makes of your name
     a sail     a boat above roots
     that rise to stem that rise

Well actually, I could stretch this to make sense.  Currently, the speaker wants autumn and the "makes" (the foundation) of your name.  Here the "your" seems to be addressed to a specific subject, the father perhaps.  And so the dual usage of "rise" as one that goes above and one that goes beyond follows this image, "above the flickering field / the fathers shrinking / far beneath our feet."  The rise goes back to "our" the speaker and the reader.  Even though the image of the "fathers" keeps coming up, we try to either escape, squelch, or rise above it.

Nope, then starts the right column, "a month dead my father / walked hillside in the field / surrounding his house."  Note how the poem is now more concrete with the description and how the "fathers" now become a "father."

And with the next stanza, the speaker separates even further, "generic    related   a class / of things as uniform as trees / are when you don't know"  and this speaks mostly about the speaker's relationship to the father.  Note how the speaker was able to relate with the concept of the "fathers" and here the distancing device is "generic."

     aspens     the late fathers
     blonde as early evening
     wind startles their eyes

     to leaf his door and cornices
     his felt hat and mattress
     empty    it feels like forever

So the shift goes back to the speakers perception of "late fathers"  -- now a little more specific with "blonde" and "eyes" which focuses the poem back down to the father -- the reinforced metaphor of the empty mattress.  This cycle of what the father represents and what the speaker wants "fathers" as a whole to represent don't necessarily mix (like my reading of this poem).

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