Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Analysis of "In the Dumps" by Heather Christle

Poem Found Here: "In the Dumps" by Heather Christle


"Who are 'we'?" and "leave open" is how past me described the first stanza.  The poem's design and content feel like a spillage of some sort -- not so much of emotion, but of content: image, ideas, and so on, "Just because we've broken my head / doesn't mean we must glue it together."  There's a sense of humor behind the tone of the second line which is punctuated with the third line of, "There's other work to be done"  What work is more important than getting one's head back together.

The descent into adjusted lines adds a sense of disjointedness -- but the poem doesn't go for an emotional disjointedness, rather a metphorical one, "and dark -- / grass freezing / There is some old light / to read by"  Note that there is a comparative metaphor of the dark grass and the implication of an old light to read by.  Dark where to stand, light that might be there.  The metaphor is then buffered with, "large pink thumbs / And with my head apart / I think."  Yes, the images are more intimate and personal, but note that the singular line of "I think" sums up the main focus of this poem -- thoughts as they turn to images and then this idea.

"the world can get in easy / This / pound of dirt I'm holding weighs a ton."  The speaker plays with the idea of the metaphorical enough to have the line "the world can get in be seen as a metaphorical device -- ah yes, the world can see the mind of the speaker, but when the physical, that pound of dirt, which feels like a ton comes in, then the metaphor shifts -- the weight of ideas and images having to be shared, but not the way the speaker wants it comes to light, or is it laid across the grass.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Analysis of "The Long Hand Wishes It Was Used" by Jackie Clark

Poem Found Here:  "The Long Hand Wishes It Was Used" by Jackie Clark


"Sometimes I wish I didn't think in words".  For me, this is a powerful opening line that holds potential emotional weight: wishing for something so mundane as words, but so complex as thought.  But instead of words, what?  The following three lines add a cumulative effect, not only how to think, but also the technique of repeating "and" to put a simple addition:

     and that instead for each thought I thought I drew upon an image,
     and that I was able to organize each image in a linear way that would be like sort of like reading
     and that instead of trying to describe the edges around something
     I could just think of the color around the edges of the image to be darker,

So the cumulative effect focuses on the concept of lines -- the border of the image.  To "organize each image in a linear way that would be like sort of like reading" adds to things that builds: 1) The linear way of thinking about things -- the lack of multiple signified and signifiers, just singular, and the phrasing to not be concrete -- like reading -- as thought there is something more or less in this process.

Which is actually both, only thinking about the edges and focusing on the tint (darker) edges gets the concept down -- a simple outline, but not the complexities like, "For instance, instead of saying love, I could just think watermelon / I could just think of a watermelon cut in half, lying open on a picnic table."  So far the connection seems personal with the idea and outline of a watermelon -- something open and public, "The inside would be just as moist as it was pink" and then a heavy implication to another signifier.  This is inescapable as the mind, or at least this speaker's mind, continues to assemble edges:

     I could picture cutting up pieces and giving them out to my friends.
     It wouldn't have to be sunny
     It wouldn't have to be anything else then just that
     It would really simplify my walk home at night

The definition verbs don't really add together, unless the speaker refers to images as something to cut up in pieces.  The transition to time doesn't flow with the poem.  And I understand that this might be a transition to images with the negation of the prerequisite of "sunny" or "anything else," but what does this add to the concept, nothing, this adds to the speaker who is then able to "simplify" a simple task -- walking home at night.

And what wouldn't be on the speaker's mind, "every thought I think is contrived line I repeat over and over to myself."  An unending cycle of just words -- words not images, "Words are always just replaced with new ones."  Language, no matter how open, are just static images and not, "The pictures would never need to know otherwise" -- alive, moving, something that elicits the emotions.  Words, when thought on repeat, are just repeated words.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Analysis of "Night Piece" by James Joyce

Poem found here: "Night Piece" by James Joyce

Three sestets that build off the simple prompt of "Night."  Now, why specifically night piece?  There's definitely a feel of free from consciousness with the lines, association of the physical and the mental,

Especially with the first line, "Gaunt in the gloom," where the construction sets up an ambiguous subject, at first, then the focus on above, "The pale stars their torches, / Enshrouded, wave."  Note how the construction falls apart here with the emphasis on "enshrouded," then the attached descriptor of "wave" to elicit motion -- a constant enshrouded feeling.  However, there's the connection of the image to, "Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume / Arches on soaring arches, Night's sindark nave."  I wasn't to sure on what or who sindark is, but note how the connection is to the heavens, which is an easy connection but the image becomes a bit more divine.

Like the reference to "Seraphim, / The lost hosts awaken / To service till"  so what turns the poem from rumination is "lost" -- are we talking about the lost seraphim, or is the descriptor of "host" referring to the night itself.  Maybe both.  This is what the speaker is thinking and describing as the night stands still, "In moonless gloom each lapses muted, dim, / Raised when she has a shaken / Her thriuble."  Note the description of her refers to the seraphim who is lost, but raises the gloom with her thurible.  But note how the construction of the sentence has the "moonless gloom" (internal rhyme) stand out.

"And long and loud, / To nights nave upsoaring / A darknell tolls."  I wasn't sure what a "starknell" is ither, but the lines remind me of how the skylark goes up in Shelley's poem.  In this there's this physical sense that something is tolled on in the night, and the the spiritual at the end, "As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud, / Voidward from the adoring / Waste of souls."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Analysis of "Belfast Tune" by Joseph Brodsky

Poem found here: "Belfast Tune" by Joseph Brodsky



The poem is in quatrains with an alternating rhyme scheme (abab).  And there is a sense of musicality within the poem, but the content within the poem has broader implications.

But, with the beginning of a tune, there's something specific, a girl:

     Here's a girl from a dangerous town
     She crops her dark hair short
     so that less of her has to frown
     when someone gets hurt.

Note the how ambiguous the town is described versus the specific intent of the girl.  Also the girl is reacting to the danger -- of someone getting hurt.  And note that the specific detail of the cropped hair  not to hide but to see.

     She folds her memories like a parachute.
     Dropped, she collects the peat
     and cooks her veggies at home: they shoot
     here where they eat.

The image of the parachute kind of downplays the gravity of the violence in the line "they shoot / here where they eat" since the metaphor is so vivid of the unstated expanse to the folding of something so large meant to slow a descent to something so domicile, but violent.

     Ah there's more sky in these parts than, say,
     ground.  Hence her voice's pitch,
     and her stares stains your retina like a gray
     bulb when you switch

So here's the interesting thing about this stanza is that there's the introduction of a third party that judges her voice.  Furthermore, the metaphor at the beginning could represent a crash down to earth -- the expanse versus limited land.  If these ideas are intertwined than what we see is limited what we imagine of the girl is expansive not only to the "you" but also to the "I" that comes in at the end.

     hemispheres, and her knee-length quilt
     skirt's cut to catch the squall,
     I dream of her either loved or killed
     because the town's to small.

So there's the physical memory of her "knee length quilt skirt" that leads to a metaphor of the metaphorical squall in the town.  But the last part, the abrupt intrusion of the speaker's thoughts on what will happen to her takes away the momentum of the metaphor and the girl.  By intruding, the speaker wants to make a stand to say "this is what we should worry about" small town girl being loved or killed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Analysis of "Valentine" by Tom Pickard

Poem found here:  "Valentine" by Tom Pickard



With a short poem, techniques definitely stand out more, for example the alliteration of "s" in the first two stanzas:

     simplicity
     say sleep

     or
     shall we
     shower

seductive, erotic, the alliteration of "s" adds onto the choices -- sleep or shower -- in a more playful way.  And then the line, "have an apple" breaks away from that dream-like play.  Just like a famous biblical apple that comes to mind.  It's the break from the language and a move on to rhertoical questions of what happens next:

     you are
     as I need
     water

     shall I move?
     do you dream?

Here the speaker acknowledges the dream like state that he's in.  Here, when the speaker asks "shall I move?" the question is not where, but from what.  And then the question "do you dream" if the other is capable of dreaming, but more of sharing the same dream.  The last three lines plays with the idea of a comparative metaphor of "shallow snow" and "flesh" -- the alliteration in the first line is parallel to the first half of the poem, the second more abrupt reality.

"melt this"  what is this? The moment? Him? The relationship?  The lines aren't pointed to a single thing, yet there's a narrow window that it may "melt."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Analysis of "Perhaps not to be is to be without your being" by Pablo Neruda

Poem found here:  "Perhaps not to be is to be without your being" by Pablo Neruda


The poem is untitled.  Or rather, the first line of the poem is the title of the poem, and even with the first lines there seems to be an identity crisis, "Perhaps not to be is to be without your being."  Not in the sense of the serious existential who am I crisis, but this one is born out of identity of a couple and self -- which is just a serious, but not as deep.

The speaker defines what it means to be without in the next couple of lines, "without your going, that cuts noon light / like a blue flower, without your passing / later through fog and stones," note how the images are very image and nature based bringing a pastoral sense, and note as well that, by using nature, there's a greater expanse of loneliness exhibited, "without the torch you lift your hand / that others may not see as golden,"

Now by going of the sense of sight, this line, "that perhaps no one believed blossomed / the glowing origin of the rose," brings the other up to the divine -- the source of the good in nature -- kind of like a Persephone figure, but I'm not thinking this is a "poetic allusion" poem.  The straight comparison is what the speaker feels -- she lights up his life and others as well.

"without, in the end, your being, your coming, / suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life, / blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze"  The key here is "to know my life" and how expansive her knowledge and her sight is to the speaker -- "and it follows that i am, because you are:" the simple declaration like Descartes "I think therefore I am"

Then Descartes concept this applies to love with, "it follows 'you are', that I am, and we: and, because of love, you will, I will / We will, come to be."  Note how the speaker doesn't state the other doesn't exist without him.  Rather there's a bigger plain of existence as a couple.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Analysis of "Burlesque" by Amaud Jamaul Johnson

Poem found here: "Burlesque" by Amaud Jamaul Johnson


Written in quatrians, the poem undresses this anonymous hymn.  The shift in tone throughout the poem creates a sense of awkwardness, but also transformative as well.

"Watch the fire undress him / how flame fingers each button,"  Note how intimate the first two lines are and how the metaphor of the fire has more action versus the "him" with inaction -- the fire is the one, "rolls back his collar, unzips him / without sweet talk or mystery."  Now the fire has anthropomorphized action, but also intent from the speaker.  The idea of "sweet talk" and "mystery" are gone.  There is this singular action of undresses to undress him.  And what does completely undressing him expose:

     See how the skin begins to gather
     at his ankles, how it slips into
     the embers, how it shimmers
     beneath him, unshapen, iridescent

The body of the male is undressed -- note how the skin kind of gathers at the bottom like pants, but its not stated what is stated, again, is how the fire undresses him -- the embers shimmers, unshapens and is iridescent then the metaphor of, "as candleight on a dark negligee.

Completely undressed physically, the speaker addresses the audience making the scene more voyeuristic, "Come, look at him, at all his goods, / how his whole body becomes song, and aria of light, a psalm's kaleidoscope."  These lines hinge on the definition of "good"?  "Good" calms down the tone a bit from the image of a man on fire to someone that is exposed and wanted.  How is good defined?  An aria of light, a psalm's kaleidoscope -- the light (fire) and the dark (body) combine to make something beautiful, grandiose, maybe not so metaphorical, but rather play on this feeling.

     Listen as he lets loose an opus,
     night's national anthem, the tune
     you can't name, but can't stop humming,
     There, he burn brilliant as a blue note

This stanza, for me, has a mixed emotion, in the end the alliteration of the "b" makes the blue note seem to stand out -- his burning.  But then the song that the man sings is something known but not known.  It's not what the exposed man says.  It's that the man that is exposed that is the focus of attention.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Analysis of "To my Oldest Friend, Whose Silence is Like a Death" by Lloyd Schwartz

Poem found here:  "To my Oldest Friend, Whose Silence is Like a Death" by Lloyd Schwartz



I'm the silent one in the poem.  Not literally, but I know that I don't talk to people in forever and I don't tell why.  This poem is sentimental -- which is against everything that I was taught how to write as far as content is concerned, but as a reader, this poem hit me pretty hard.

The poem is written in couplets with the occasional one off line -- which can easily represent either the "friend" or the "speaker," but first exposition:

     In today's paper, a story about our high school drama
     teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

     made me ache to call you--the only person I know
     who'd still remember his talent, his good likes, his self-

The line breaks in this poem makes these lines, the end of the first line with "high school drama" to reinforce the connection between the speaker and the friend, " the only person I know" foreshadowing a more serious connection, and the abrupt line break of "his self-" is assumed knowledge.which sets up the next couplet, "We'd laugh (at what haven't we laughed?), then / not laugh, wondering what became of him.  But I can't call,"  when I read this couplet,  The parenthetical.  "(at what haven't we laugh?)" adds a sense of internal drama which comes out in the singular line of, "because I don't know what become of you."

Now the poem could go off into different directions from here, but this line is the basis of the poem.  What has become of you?  The speaker sets up the friendship:

     --After sixty years, with no explanation, you're suddenly
     not there.  Gone.  Phone disconnected.  I was afraid

     you might be dead.  But you're not dead.

And very quickly the speaker takes out any sense of elegaic quality.  This isn't honoring the death of someone.  No on is even dead -- physically.  The speaker has a huge sense of confusion or rather loose ends that he explores, literally, with the following actions:

     You've left, your landlord says.  He has lost your new unlisted
     number but insists on "respecting your privacy."  I located

     your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that
     you're alive and not ill.  your ex wife ignores my letters.

So the speaker goes down the list of any way he could contact them from the most logical, a landlord, to the most personal, awkward and kind of desperate with ex-wife.  So when the speaker questions himself, "What's happened? Are you in trouble? Something / you've done? Something I've done?" note the sense of frustration, but also the order of the focus: you, you, me.  This list and the frustration gains my trust as a reader. The speaker really doesn't know what is going on, and not simply hiding anything.  From this point, I think, what is the speaker to gain by confessing this vulnerability?

Especially what they shared:

     We used to tell each other everything: our automatic
     reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes,

     and sexual experiments.  How many decades since we started
     singing each other "Happy Birthday" every birthday?

     (Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)

the last part made me sad based on the image. of it.  How the speaker would have the phone up to his ear and listen to the rendition.  I think it's enough detail to make the image vivid without being over the top.  As for the list of sharing, yeah that, "sexual experiments" one made me think of certain things like how close, what are these exact secrets, but this poem is not focused on the secrets, but on the silence.

     This mysterious silence  isn't kind.  It keeps me
     up at night, bewildered, at some "stage" of grief.

     Would your actual death be easier to bear?

I know it's three lines but this is to show the alternating couplets and single lines effect on the poem.  Note that the couplet is a jumble of emotions about silence -- bewilderment and grief.  Then the rhetorical question of "Would you actual death be easier to bear?" heightens an image for me.  This speaker, in bed looking up at the ceiling then back at the clock at what time it is, then back at the ceiling, and then boom, would your actual death be easier to bear?  Well would it?  It's another thought that shifts with what the speaker misses, but then there's the quote from Pound, "'When one's friends hate each other,' / Pound wrote near the end of his life, 'how can there be / peace in the world?'"  How can there be peace in the world if the emotion is static -- hate which is born from the lack of communication, the silence.

So here's the part that hits metaphorically and aesthetically for me, "We loved each other Why why why / am I dead to you?"  I understand the frustration and on an emotional level it hurts, but on an aesthetic level, this repetition seems more and more childish, and yes, it could refer back to the speaker's childhood, but is it too far back?  It takes me out of the mood and poem a bit too hard, at least for today, maybe not later.

The ending lines bring an interesting scenario, "Our birthdays are looming.  The older I get, the less and less / I understand this world, / and the people in it/"  When that birthday comes what does the silence mean?  And the admission of not understanding.  But to me it's the transition of talking to a friend always known to the change of just being another person in the world.

I'm the another person in the world.  I suck.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Analysis of "April" by William Carlos Williams

Poem found here: "April" by William Carlos Williams


The poem, in my head, alludes to T.S. Eliot's, "The Wasteland" with the famous line, "April is the cruelest month."  The response though starts with a proposition, "If you had come away with me / into another state / we had been quiet together."  There's interesting techniques used here.  First, the reader doesn't know who this "you" is, and, adding to this ambiguity, the single line of "into another state" could refer to a physical or mental place -- but the end result would've been a "quiet together."

But the poem goes into the opposites -- or expectation of opposites with the conjunction of "but" leading turns within the poem through a single word -- conjunction or adverbial phrase..  "But there the sun coming up / out of the nothing beyond the lake was / too low in the sky."  Note this first usage of "too" in the poem as though to trivialize preciseness:

     there was too great a pushing
     against him,
     too much of sumac buds, pink
     in the head
     with the clear gum upon them
     too many opening hearts of lilac leaves,
     too many, too many swollen
     limp poplar tassels on the
     bare branches! [emphasis mine]

Although the first "too" that I quoted had a physical preciseness, the second one implicates a general overview of someone or something or a group of people (ambiguous subject) pushing against "him" -- God? "you"?  Who knows, but then the poem trivializes physical things -- too much sumac buds, hearts of lilac leaves, swollen limp poplar -- too many of too many.  Note it's not the flowers listed, but the adjectives to describe the flower -- "pink in the head," "opening hearts," "swollen limp" -- some can refer to a sense of implied physical and mental fallacies (sometimes phallic fallacies).  So, to me, there is a sense of satire building from cherry picking examples and open ended subjects but implied adjectives with this line, "I had no rest against that / springtime!"

What type of springtime -- the one where the only thing seen is "too" much of something, the one where there is "too much pushing against him," the one that is too loud, but loud of the voyeurs design, not the actual.

Here's the actual:

     The pounding of the hoofs on the
     raw sods
     stayed with me half through the night.
     I awake smiling but tired.

Movement.  Spring is about movement, regardless of how quantifiable excessive the faults are.  For the speaker, It is the pounding of the hoofs -- the movement of horses the represents his own movement on raw sods -- not tainted or used before, but trekked through that stayed with him.

The simple emotion of being awake is more important than smiling but tired.  Here the poem seems the most in the present and not in the overly analytical thought process (against what I'm doing with this analysis) and motion -- physical or emotion, matters.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Analysis of "Robins in Love" by William Logan

Poem found here: "Robins in Love" by William Logan


I don't know why I seek the shape of the poem when I reread it.  In my mind, the three quatrains and a couplet automatically makes me assume there's something to do with a sonnet where there's a turn at the end.  It's somewhat there, but it's the shifts in perspectives and tone throughout the poem that interest me.

Even with the first line, "Branched like an artery" is a somewhat cliche simile, but not so much at the same time.  The visual is, but to start out with it without a noun places myself only knowing the other half of a comparison -- as though I'm expecting something different, but it doesn't happen, "the dying oak leafs out / with February month" exposition lines which shifts with the language of, "This is their layover month," a somewhat technical term of "layover" and then the excitement of, "down to the Keys and back. / True snowbirds!" foreshadows it's own shift in perspective.


     A man with a .45 and a measured eye
     could pick them off one by one,
   
     or  sketch them -- but why bother?
     Imagination is enough,

So the first couplet (taken out of the stanza form) imagines a man killing the love birds and on the other sketching them --  from violence to art.  However, the flippant tone of "but why bother?"  brings cynicism to the line, "Imagination is enough" which the concept of not physically doing anything comes back not only with the continuing simile of Imagination, "like the bed you might / have shared with someone else" but also ties in with the couplet as well.

So the cynicism of inaction and imagination ends with the proclamation of, "They're chaste" -- from the bedroom to the birds.  "chasing each other -- / one wing in the future, one in the past."  The couplet has a grandiose feel to them because there was such feigned intimacy -- lovers or even further back through the eyes of a hunter/artist.   The idea of metaphorical parts in both the past in the future based on the cynicism means a continuation of something chaste, something imaginative, never anything real.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Analysis of "The New Dentist" by Jaimee Kuperman

Poem found here: "The New Dentist" by Jaimee Kuperman


Internal monologue.  It's what people do when they drive alone in their cars, or at least when that is what I do.  This poem encapsulates those thoughts.  But here's the context, even though the poem is entitled "The New Dentist" -- the focus is on the concept of "new" and not so much the dentist part.

"Driving to the new dentist's office / the slow drive of a new place / with the McDonalds that I don't go to"  The lines are very narrative, and very train of thought.  These lines are set up lines, but the only thing here is that the "McDonalds that I don't go to" feels more of a time frame set-up and then place with, "on the left, the mall two miles away."

With more of the focus on the place there's this interesting line, "The Courthouse and the Old Courthouse" -- two paths diverged.  "road signs that break apart, the fork in the road / that looks nothing like a fork or a spoon"  The cliche of the two paths is twisted a bit when the speaker goes on a divergent thought, the looks of the fork of the road, "in fact / at best, maybe a knife bent in a dishwasher / that leans to one side."  I could go either way with these lines -- a bit too cute or a there could be something more.  Currently, I think the lines a re a bit too cute since the cliche before is a little to heavy handed and the divergence is a little bit telegraphed, but then the poem goes back to the dentist.

The poem goes into run on as the mind continually races:

     [...]And I know the dentist
     will ask about my last visit and want to know
     in months that I can't say some time ago
     and I know he will ask me about flossing
     and saying when I'm in the mood won't be
     the appropriate answer.

The change here is that the speaker is already predicting what the dentist will say and premeditating the response.  In doing so the rumination monologue is gone and replaced with a dialogue with the speaker having to defend her beliefs and routines.

     I brush my teeth before going in.
     It's like cleaning before the cleaning person
     but I don't want him to know I keep an untidy
     mouth.

For me, these lines border on the cute or something more.  This time I'm feeling there's something more here since this is more of the reasoning why the speaker feels she needs to premeditate a response or defend herself -- the untidy mouth coyly plays with the idea of something more: untidy mind, untidy room, untidy life.  But I can see how this could be too cute as well because of the previous line -- the poem does play with this technique.

The last lines seems to be more exposition to the speaker, "That I am the type of person who shoves/ things in the closet before guests arrive."  I'm not sure if this is needed.  "Untidy" is such a strong adjective to end with, but I do understand the need to point to the deeper meaning with shoving things away.  Just my way of looking at the poem today I suppose.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Analysis of "DetoNation" by Oceon Vuong

Poem found here: "DetoNation" by Oceon Vuong


The poem starts off with a linguistic pun -- detonation as the explosion, and the focus on "Deto" and then "Nation."  Could this be a overly political poem?  A poem that's too on the nose? It seems to start that way, but the shift of subject is set up with the first couplet, "There's a joke that ends with--huh? / It's the bomb saying here is your father" a joke told with the punchline first, and the punchline is a "bomb" saying "here is your father."  So the question is what is the focus: the bomb or the saying?

The poem has a sense of repetition throughout, but starts with the saying as though to emphasize what has happened, "Now here is your father inside / your longs.  Look how lighter / the earth is -- afterward."  Yes, the focus on "afterward" might overly state the regret in the line, but the poem is transitioning and coming back to this over-encompassing feeling and the word "father" that the poem feels like it's trying to catch up with itself.

"To even write the word father / is to carve a portion of the day / out of a bomb-bright page"  Note the simple task of writing a word expands outward in terms of metaphor and meaning and goes back to the idea of "bomb" -- but note the idea of "light" and "bright" as though to blind and lift continues -- the two "bomb" and "father" are becoming more the same due to definition and repetition.

"There's enough light to drown in / but never enough to enter the bones / & stay."  The drop off line with the ampersand comes a bit unexpected since I'm expecting a twist to the line, and it does come with "stay" but  there's something subtle about the "stay" -- the word elicits, to me, what the speaker wants rather what is described or an exercise in word play.  The light should stay, should it?

"Don't stay here, he said, my boy / broken by the names of flowers.  Don't cry / anymore."  And the idea of staying ties back to the father -- the bomb, the light, the father.  The father asking his son not to stay.  The names of flowers seems like a good line, but I don't know where it ties back to.

"So I ran into the night. / The night: my shadow growing / toward my father."  This is the first action deliberately tied to the speaker -- running away.  So the ideas of staying is then applied to him -- as a want perhaps? or an afterward?  But here when the speaker runs away his "shadow" (maybe in the Jungian sense) goes toward the father, just like the poem.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Analysis of "from Anactoria" by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Poem found here: "from Anactoria" by Algernon Charles Swinburne


Anactoria

Based on the wikipedia article, this is just a portion of the longer poem which talks about Sappho's love and inspiration -- Anactoria.  But this is not the adoration love poem.  The first line of the rhymed couplet poem starts out with, "Yes, thou shalt be forgotten like spilt wine".  The Dionysian introduction brings a sense of push and pull in this relationship as the pull is, "Except these kisses of my lips on thine / Brand them with immortality;"  -- What the speaker thinks will happen versus the present.  There's definitely a play of lust here.

"but me -- / Men shall not see bright fire nor hear the sea,"  Note the idolization is to "Anactoria" and not to the speaker himself.  By downplaying himself there's a weird thing.  Yes, the love is being cast above him, but he is making himself memorable by stating he won't be memorable, "Nor mix their heats with music, nor behold / Cast forth of heaven, with feet of awful gold / And plumeless wings that make the bright air blind."  So here we go with this description.  This starts out as a forgettable section of the male, but look at the continued fall, especially with the telling line, "cast forth of heaven" which could be a reference to the the fall of Lucifer.  The lines have the speaker live in infamy like the devil while making the love famous -- but the love and the speaker will eventually be forgotten, right? Just that interaction, that kiss that brands them.

"Lightning, with thunder for a hound behind."  Note that this line contextualizes the blindness but also inserts the sound of thunder which deafens those who see,  what's left to the senses?  Not much, only what is known, "Hunting through fields unfurrowed and unsown, / But in the light and laughter, in the moan,"  This couplet represents more of the structure of this poem -- the talking about what's not there (hounds hunting  through unfurrowed and unsown) and what is apparent, but ubiquitous -- light and laughter.

"an in grasp of lip and hand," Now we're back to the physical, the what that is remembered, " And shudder of water that makes felt on land / The immeasurable tremor of all the sea, / Memories shall mix and metaphors of me."

The last line is what got me interested in the poem.  The unwrapping of the metaphors in the poem represents the speaker -- deconstructed into nothing relevant which makes the speaker even more relevant.  Furthermore,  the mixture of the obscenely grandiose and the intimate scene works for me here.  Both are immortal in separate ways.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Analysis of "Romance" by Edgar Allen Poe

Poem found here: "Romance" by Edgar Allen Poe



So on my version there's a stanza break -- ten line stanza and then an eleven line stanza.  I think, looking over my notes, the separation makes a difference between tone.  Romance, romance repeated twice -- this poem is definitely a definition of the term as it is anthropomorphized with, "who knows to nod and sing / With drowsy ahead and folded wing."  And, to me, the first thought to come to mind is that romance is angelic -- or at least appears that way.  This is important to note as the poem goes down the pastoral with, "Among the green leaves as they shake / Far down within some shadowy lake."  And, yes, "shadowy" might be a little too foreboding but hey there is, "To me a painted paroquet / Hat been-a most familiar bird"

So there's the tie in with the winged creature -- angelic but then actualized into the form of a paroquet (parakeet).  But note how the speaker introduces himself to authenticate the paroquet which then brings him internal with, "Taught me my alphabet to say / To list my very earliest word,"  Romance in the form of childhood -- those happy memories, "While in the wild wood I did lie / A child- with a most knowing eye."  And what ruins romance?  Knowledge?

Well the connection might be there after the break, the symbol of the bird changes to something a little more sinister, "Of late, eternal Condor years / So shake the very Heaven on high / with tumult as they thunder by."  So maybe a little too dramatic of a shift.  Yes, the later years does bring a sense of doom and dread -- but such knowledge changes things -- well within the speaker, "I have no time for idle cares."  With such a declaration, the romance is gone -- and what is in it's place.

"Through gazing on the unquiet sky. / And when an hour with calmer wings / Its down upon my spirit flings."  The speaker takes on the symbol of the bird -- all of it's forces, The romantic uplifting mixed with foreboding.  It is within the soul the speaker feels able to fly (good or bad).

"That little time with lyre and rhyme / To while away-forbidden things!"  What are these forbidden things?  It's really internal with the speaker at this point, but this felt forced to rhyme with "wings" and "things."  In any case, gone is the innocence of gazing, in is the forbidden action of the heart, "My heart would feel to be a crime / Unless it trembled with the strings."  Lust, perhaps?  Or maybe the transition between youthful want and old lechery?  Crime certainly changes people.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Analysis of "A Glimpse" by Walt Whitman

Poem found here: "A Glimpse" by Walt Whitman



Do you know those scenes in Romantic movies where time slows down, the music stops, and then our couple looks in each other's eyes and the connection is there.  Well that's what is portrayed. The overall feel of this poem is that moment.  However, the speaker admits this moment through the title itself, "a glimpse" who is the one peeking

"A glimpse, through an interstice caught, / of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove."  Note how the poem starts on the outside and focuses in.   Here the crowd is of "workmen and drivers," innocuous enough, but also note that this is in a bar-room, "late of a winter night -- and I unremark'd seated in a corner;" in which it is cold and the speaker separates himself from the others.

But the semi-colon of the line connects his need to be alone with, "Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently approaching, and / seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand;" Now there's the romantic moment of holding hands.  That silent approach.  That admission of love.

 Who has a glimpse of this?  On one aspect, it is the speaker who is looking through the crowd to see his love, But there is also the reader.  Remember that the workmen and the drivers are part of the scenery, but it is the reader who is viewing this scene -- interpreting it.  And how the speaker tries to give meaning to every gesture and every moment for himself and also for those who glimpse with him.

"A long while, amid the noises of coming and going--of drinking and / oath and smutty jest."  The scene returns to it's bar-room antics.  The noises come back and the people are there.  Do these things apply to the couple?  The speaker differentiates this moment with what is there, "There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, / perhaps not a word."  Note the silence that repeats throughout the entire poem -- the silent approach, the silent being.