Thursday, August 21, 2014

Analysis of "Douglas Fir" by Ken Howe

Original poem reprinted online here: "Douglas Fir" by Ken Howe
More information about the Poet: Ken Howe

The first thing I wrote about this poem was it looks similar to "Robinson Jeffers lines" -- long lines that have some tinge of nature to them.  And I think the poem utilizes the style of Jeffers to still revere nature but add a bit more to it as well.

The first lie seems like a Jeffers line discussing the sacredness of a douglas fir, but the language is a bit different in the end, "where it is more rare."  Here the speaker talks about value in the sense of existence while Jeffers tended to be enveloped in nature.  Basically the speaker places himself as a judgement position which differs.

But then the speaker seemingly refers back to nature, "Frequently alone in a meadow, surrounded by dropped fir cones, needles bestrewing its pedestal, its dais."  "dais" once again the word shifts the context of the poem which now is a stage for a point of view.

"The Douglas-Fir can eschew standing in a fire which burns but does not consume when it interpellates a Charlton Heston or other zealot"  Well, the only clear thing is that Charlton Heston is compared to with a zealot.  But the burning makes the tree into a metaphor.  Why is it burning? Who knows.  But know that the trees burning  showcases zealots like Charlton Heston (known for gun rights).  Those two don't necessarily mix but, "Its aloofness is its sufficient interpellative act, cleanly articulate in the thin alpine silence."  The Douglas-fir is anthropomorphized as "aloof"  and the focus is the act being noticed (the burning) than the silence.

Not necessarily true to the speaker, "The meadow is filled with this silence, Ukrainian dolls of it radiating from the tree, a choir of bumblebees in the goat-grazed grass:"  And here the silence adds more, but it seems like more from the speaker.  The metaphor of the silence being equivalent to these images that the speaker knows "Ukrainian Dolls" and "bumblebees"

And this type of silence is further defines with "the tree the omega point of a labyrinth of columbine and saxifrage encompassing the entire valley and diagramming, in labelled SI units, each isobar of its beatitude."  And even though there's a sense of the divine at the end definition, there's something more that defines this silent beatitude.

First the reference to flowers of columbine and saxifrage.  For me, I keep the shooting in mind when I read the line, but maybe the  allusion comes up too easily for me, but the reference to Chalton Heston kind of corroborates my theory, but only the slightest way.

Furthermore though the mention of the flowers, columbine and saxifrage, feel like a microcosm of this poem where the columbine stands out -- reference and flower -- above the saxifrage (low growing plant).

Then the switch to electrical technical language of diagramming and SI units somewhat sets a precursor to the change of landscape and the usage of the word "isobar" contrasts the beatitude -- the mixture of silence, science and reverence to overtake the previous metaphor.

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