Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Analysis of "Token Loss" by Kay Ryan

Poem found here: "Token Loss" by Kay Ryan


"To the dragon / any loss is total" going opposite of the implication of "token" in the title, the contrast stands out more than the premise of the dragon.  This easily could have been a more fantastical poem, but the idea of loss, I feel, stands out because of the opposition therefore making the dragon more to be like a metaphor.

     His rest 
     is disrupted
     if a single
     jewel encrusted 
     goblet has 
     been stolen.

So what does the dragon represent?  Well, in these lines, we learn more that the dragon is "disrupted" when a "single jewel encrusted goblet" is stolen.  There's an implication that there's a lot more treasure that the dragon has.  But what is lost is something small but specific.  A piece of gold or something else would have little or no value to this dragon.  But knowing something small and specific is gone disrupts the dragon.

"The circle / of himself" here's when the poem becomes more metaphorical and ties in the implied treasure and the dragon himself.  If both are considered the same  (the circle of treasure, the circle of himself) then that small specific piece that is gone would impact both, "of his gold / has been / broken"  This is more of a reassuring line.

Then the didactic line of "No / loss is token."  The line itself has serious implications but based on the internal rhyme of "token" and "broken" the line has some slight tongue and cheek overtones.  Ah, but what is lost if this poem and the message is taken too seriously?  The fantastical.

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