Friday, March 13, 2015

Analysis of "Dark Matter and Dark Energy" by Alicia Ostriker

Poem found here:  "Dark Matter and Dark Energy" by Alicia Ostriker


This poem is a play on specific and the unspecific.  There's also play of what's stated and what's inferred.

This poem is written in tercets, and this plays a big part in the end of the poem, but the beginning of the poem deals with the specific confirmation: "My husband says dark matter is a reality / not just some theory invented by adolescent computers / he can prove it exists and is everywhere"  There's somewhat of emotional twinge with the first line "My husband says dark matter is a reality" as though the specific mentioning of the husband and what he can "prove" as real and it exist.  But the husband doesn't necessarily prove anything.

Rather there's the expansion onto the unknowable, "forming invisible haloes around everything / and somehow because of gravity / holding everything loosely together"  The key with this poem is the inferences with specifics -- "invisible haloes" and "everything loosely" -- weirdly, the movement in this poem is dependent on the adjectives and adverbs since the nouns are so general, so undefinable.  And any attempt to be specific through nouns or even situations, well:

"the way a child wants to escape its parents / and doesn’t want to—what’s that— / we don’t know what it is but we know it is real"  The exclamation of the second like to the analogy -- the child to escape from the parents breaks away from something, "what's that" -- even the exclamation that breaks away is undirected, something is wrong but what.  "We don't know what it is but we know it is real.

"the way our mothers and fathers fondly / angrily followed fixed orbits around / each other like mice on a track"  The key with this stanza is paying attention to the adverbs, "fondly" and "angrily" which is trying to impose more of an emotional appeal -- or rather, to place meaning in this run around of no meaning meaning.

"the way every human and every atom / rushes through space wrapped in its invisible / halo, this big shadow—that’s dark dark matter"  Here there's the reference to the beginning definition of the poem which describes everything in a loop but there's nothing proven, but the important line is the next stanza, "sweetheart" which feels so forced and cynical in the context of the poem -- maybe perhaps a desperation for something real, "while the galaxies / in the wealth of their ferocious protective bubbles / stare at each other,"  again with the descriptors -- the adjectives -- there's an implied intent behind the personification of the galaxies, but nothing there.

The last three lines feel the most forced:

     unable to cease
     proudly
     receding

it's the line lengths as well as the content.  This part is more dependent on the emotion rather than the action.  Here, the adverb of "proudly" goes with the galaxies -- both sides receding.  The line isn't meant to be a triumph for one side or another -- rather to be looked upon as harmatia -- that undefinable flaw that keeps both apart.

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