Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Analysis of "Rosewater" by Nikos Gatsos

Poem found here: "Rosewater" by Nikos Gatsos



Grief.  The first lines of the poem uses high metaphor in order to express and mask the speaker's grief, "When you reach that other world, don't become a cloud / don't become a cloud, and the bitter star of dawn, / so that your mother knows you, waiting at her door."

Here's the trick with the first few lines.  The conceit of the dead happens with the first phrase of "When you reach that other world" and the focus is the separation between the speaker and the "you" speaker -- words apart.

Then there's the repetition of "don't become a cloud" which I take as a ubiquitous transformation metaphor with a catch.  Note how the metaphor expands outward to "the bitter star of dawn". Yes, the adjective of bitter tells much about the speaker's perspective on this grief, but what's more telling is the line, "so that your mother knows you, waiting at her door" which shows that even though the speaker is disassociated with the "you," the mother still knows.  It's that fear of not grieving enough.

"Take a wand of willow, a root of rosemary / a root of rosemary, and be moonlit coolness / falling in the midnight in your thirsting courtyard."  These lines have a fantastical feel about them.  I'm not sure how "willow" and "rosemary" work as far as symbols.  But note how the "you" is not a cloud, but rather a being (ethereal perhaps) that wants and holds things.

"I give you rosewater to drink" this poem is aptly named rosewater.  Even without knowing all the connotations of rosewater the comparison continues with, "you game me poison."  Yes, poison could be the grief the speaker is dealing with and the rosewater is how the speaker is keeping the "you" alive through this poem, but note how the speaker built up this metaphor through the fantastical and high imagery.

This line line I'm unsure about, "eaglet of the frost, hawk of the desert."  Two different beings in two different worlds.  Who is the eaglet, who is the hawk if this is indeed a comparative metaphor between the speaker and the "you"?

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis, it served me a lot. Thanks for sharing.

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