Original Poem Reprinted Online Here: "Caritas" by Rachael Boast
More Information about the Poet: Rachael Boast
Caritas. I wonder how virtue plays a part in this poem, which, I think, is more of an eckphrastic piece. As I am rereading this poem, I focus more on how the speaker addresses language as this poem is very planned down to the usage of adjectives and nouns.
"These stones speak a level language / murmured word by word," The first two lines of this quatrain plays with alliteration: "s" "l" and "w." The sounds come at a fast pace and pays attention to itself within the structure; furthermore, the content itself about how the "stones" speak. At this point, I feel the speaker and the setting are very similar. "a speech pocked and porous with loss, / and the slow hungers of weathering" So the language turns from basic "word by word" to a more precise language which anthropomorphizes: pocked, porous from loss and weathering. If what I stated (building and speaker are similar) then the place serves more of a metaphor for what the speaker feels.
But then the shift in the second quatrain with the focus on "voice" (not language):
And there, in the broken choir, children
are all raised voice, loving the play of outline
and absence where the dissembled god
has shared his shape and homed us.
The poem expands from the pores to hole and within this whole is the voice of singing children. The line is a bit awkward with the "children are all raised voice" which puts the metaphor on too hard on the voice as much as the pointed metaphor of the "absence where the dissembled god" has more of a negative connotation which applies to the "us," How does this relate to the speaker/structure? Well, the "us" definitely applies as someone shaped. But this could also represent the internal struggle as we..
"At the end of the nave, the east front stands / both altered and unchanged / its arch like a glottal stop" So with this tercet, the focus to is in the second line, "both altered and unchanged" this sense of opposites seems a bit abrupt, but "altered" could meant how time changed the building, and "unchanged" when the time breaks down things and no one wants to put things together. But this feels like a stretch for the structure metaphor and even further for the speaker one.
What this could be is just description of a place, as just place. A reset of the metaphor to set up the last three lines. The transition is slightly there due to the change of structure, "And what comes across, half-said / into all that space, is that it's enough / to love the air we move through." I don't think the last line is earned. Yeah, I do see the holes and porous set-up to lead to the air, but there seems a lot left unsaid. So many different techniques used: alliteration, sound, speech, metaphor, simile, language. But it doesn't add up for me. Perhaps this is the point - just parts to try to make a whole.