Saturday, February 28, 2015

Analysis of "Bantams in Pine-Woods" by Wallace Stevens

Poem found here: "Bantams in Pine-Woods" by Wallace Stevens


This poem made me automatically search for analysis of it online.  I don't understand this poem at all.  Of course I'll put down my own thoughts, but this seems like a poem I could read from a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet who plays with meaning and the technique to go against meaning and technique.  And I think the analysis on Wikipedia goes along those lines with:

The new world's "inchling" poets are defiant towards the traditional literary canon, and particularly defiant against the unnamed, arrogant, self-appointed gatekeeper of literary tradition; they are confident instead in their own free powers of innovation in the New World.

Sounds about right.

Anyway, the first couplet is a play on language moreso than a play on content, "Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan / of tan with henna hackles, halt!"  I think this is referring to the bantams in an overblown way -- the repetition of the "-an" sound and the "h" sounds.  Making the divine out of the trivial through technique.

"Damned universal cock, as if the sun / Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail."  So, theoretically, this absurdity of a chicken is now compared to the sun -- "blackamoor" is an interesting description since it refers to a person -- more and more this poem is "politically incorrect" between a couple of races already.  I'm intrigued.

"Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal. / Your world is you. I am my world."  Here the separation is apparent and the parody as well with the repetition of "Fat" to lessen the seriousness of this poem.  If what wikipedia says is true then this poem feels as though Stevens is writing in the persona of the "ten foot poet" who dismisses other "New World" things as "inchlings" and "Fat" and to "begone."  I think the poem 's overboard nature does show the satire.

"Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs, / And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos."  Is the literary canon and all that defend it compared to by bantams.  More than likely.  But damn, this poem is viscerally satirical for those in the know.


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