Monday, February 23, 2015

Analysis of "The Wine" by Michael Metivier

Poem found here: "The Wine" by Michael Metivier


This poem is a one sentence narrative and has a "koanic" effect on the outside, but really there's a feeling of a "if/then" proposition placed in.

So the exposition:

     When the townspeople
     gave teenaged Buddha
     a glass of wine
     so delicious he grew
     to an unthinkable size

Now the key terms in these lines are the adjectives.  "Teenaged" representing a younger Buddha -- maybe not so experienced and still on his way to enlightenment is specified in the poem; however, Buddha's physical change to an "unthinkable" size changes perspective.  "Unthinkable" is an adjective that relies on the readers and observers to create the image, and, in this sense, the poem plants a seed on the difference between what is observed to what actually changes.

     and froze into a blue statue
     that shielded the town
     from a wave that broke
     upon his back
     and would have swept away
     the town if he'd not tasted
     the wine

yes the actions of the waves are devastating, but here is the "if/then proposition" I wrote about earlier.  If Buddha had not tasted the wine would he still save the village?  The question of capability or willingness comes into question; however, the point is somewhat moot due since the question isn't asked -- rather the poem shifts to the "people [that] were overjoyed / and said they would do good deed"

What type of good deeds? "Carpool their children to school / more often and plant lettuce / everywhere"  The initial alliteration sets off a sense of the ridiculous here in the poem and is punctuated with the worldly mundane notion of "planting lettuce everywhere."  Remember these are just intentions that show what the people want to do and also what the people weren't doing before -- a state of mental nothingness.

Meanwhile, "the Buddha / melted into water and receded / into the calm sane sea."  Yes, the "sane" is a little telling in this poem, but compliments the physical change of the Buddha although metaphorical shows a current change at least.

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