Sunday, March 8, 2015

Analysis of "I allow myself" by Dorthea Grossman

Poem found here: "I allow myself" by Dorthea Grossman


"I allow myself / the luxury of breakfast" brought me into the poem.  There's so many ways that this poem could go based on these lines: maybe a discussion about the self, maybe a discussion on poverty, maybe an overzealous poem about food.  Yes.

But the following line, "(I am no nun, for Christ's sake)" overly states through understatement that this poem is tongue-in-cheek with references to religious concepts and the divine.  Isn't breakfast a bit conceptual just like religion?

     Charmed as I am
     by the sputter of bacon,
     and the eye-opening properties
     of eggs,

So I feel this is a play on those informative shorts that say why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially with the "eye-opening properties of eggs" -- yes, we can deconstruct the symbol of the egg based on eye-opening properties.  It's about rebirth, or hunger, or yellow, or life, or pre-death.  Whatever.  But the poem is playing with multiple interpretation to the point where it's more personalized for the speaker and too broad for the audience.

For example the line, "it's the coffee / that's really sacramental" is a bait line that could mean something more, but, in context, doesn't really have to mean anything even to the speaker.

"In the old days, / I spread fires and floods and pestilence / on my toast."  The line break between "pestilence" and "on my toast" is another example of a bait.  The two lines build up to something that could be a twist but is only applicable to the toast.

"Nowadays, I'm more selective, / I only read my horoscope / by the quiet glow of the marmalade."  The switch of the ultimate divine to the concept of horoscopes.  Nothing against horoscopes and those who believe -- but the dramatic switch from "sacramental" to "horoscopes" based on breakfast spreads takes away all gravity in this poem.

Can't we allow ourselves to let go of gravity for a minute?  At least at breakfast time.

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