Saturday, October 31, 2015

Analysis of "To X" by Bill Knott

Original Analysis found here: Analysis of "To X""
Poem found here: "To X" by Bill Knott


The first four lines state the same thing, well, by definition.  What makes the first four lines of the poem interesting is how simply the tone changes through the repetition.  A build up of importance, or romance.  The anaphora of “Somewhere” brings a sense of searching — and what is the speaker searching throughj: “history,” “untold ages,” “the sands of time,” “the vast sea of eternity.”  It’s comic, but romantic.  It’s a speaker who is writing in fantastical hyperbole.

Love creates strange writings.

“There is one person / Only one.”  The repeating of the “only one” is the turn in the poem.  If this was another sappy love poem then the comparison would be more grandiose, the emotions amplified to the point of comic.  Here the attention turns to the tone of the speaker.

“Who could understand me and love me / And your’re it/ So get with it.”

The responsibility goes with the other who (according to the speaker) sees as someone who needs to get with it.  Take responsibility for the speaker.  There’s humor here of course — the abrupt turn at the end. But this poem, at the end, turns to the speaker’s view of love rather than a hyperbolic love poem of an unknown other — or maybe both.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Analysis of "Demolition Song" by Benjamin Goldberg

Poem Found Here: "Demolition Song" by Benjamin Goldberg



What makes this poem is the line breaks.  There's an unsettling feel about this poem which comes from technique: the images, the line breaks, the form of the sonnet, the language -- that brings a whirlwind of emotions, nothing to be pinned down,

But first, this opening line "Too often sledgehammers are the answer--" mixes what the title represents -- the image of demolition, the feel of a psalm with the focus on the answer.  What is the sledgehammer the answer to, "rotting crossbeam, plank, or stud, this ribcage, / these boarded storefronts."  The introduction of the speaker's ribcage seems off in the sequence, but not how easily the subject stays within the idea of construction and then the play of sound, "Avenues all sound / like rooftop cisterns, their absent water."  It's the sound of something absent -- when you expect to hear water you hear nothing.

The next three lines of the second stanza have a play with line breaks which make the images descend, "Lord, I"m too often dawns' color of rain / left too long on the frames of a pickup trucks / whose wheels are cindreblocks."  The color of rain is a very pretty metaphor and image -- something that feels a bit heavenly with the tone of the piece, and then the truck is like, "okay it's more down to earth."  But the wheels as cinderblocks hits hard as an image -- there's implications of poverty or class here.  And with the last setnence of the stanza, "Answer my bones, just as you would my driveway, with bindweed" feels more of a play on terminology -- bindweed -- both the literal and the metaphorical binding.

The third stanza is the opposite of the second where the images ascend, "By brake light, I break glass on the wrong side / of your sound walls. I read the pyro's creed / from a matchbook, and make my church once more [..]"  There's a sense of religious neurosis with first the glass on the wrong side and the sound walls, but the the ascendance of "pyro's creed" which in turn into a church.  There's a bit of a mocking tone here, but it makes me wonder if it is or is the last stanza a mocking tone and this the serious tone.  For me, the second stanza and the third cannot have the same tone.  Well they can but not the way I see it.  The second stanza stanza seems serious, a bit more down to earth.  The third stanza seems more sarcastic with finding the creed on a match book and the church as a gas can which then leads to the frustrated tone with the question, "I'll ask again -- how many / streetlights has my faith avenged?"

The streetlights take an antagonistic role.  It seems like the speaker wants the lights out, "Flicker once, / if you can't hear me."  The idea of flickering is the slight hope of something there meanwhile, "Flicker off if you can." is absolute -- the lights out -- the faith avenged.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Analysis of "Oblivion Poem" by Jessie Redmon Fauset

Poem Found Here: "Oblivion Poem" by Jessie Redmon Fauset


Rhymed AABB quatrains.  For a poem so conceptual and hidden, the monosyllabic rhyme scheme (until the end) wants the reader to remember this poem, which, ironically, is against what the speaker wants.  What the speaker wants is to be "forgotten" and become one with "oblivion."

A bit overblown?  Not really, another way of looking at this poem is what the speaker thinks of death and of outside forces -- to me, this is more of a character piece than a poem that has high philosophical value.  

The opening lines, "I hope when I am dead that I shall lie / In some deserted grave [....]" has a very strong sentiment to amplify the need for loneliness and the, "I cannot tell you why," adds a sense of mystery that the reader wants to uncover.  However, the mystery doesn't do it for me as the next two lines reiterate this sentiment, "But I should like to sleep in some neglected spot . Unknown to every one, by every one forgot."

I'm not concerned why the speaker hates people, rather these lines, "And I should never hear the note of jealousy or hate, / The Tribute paid by passerby to tombs of state."  Now, the jealousy and hate part is hyperbolic to put on all people, but this is what the speaker thinks people are.  However, what the the speaker thinks of itself, "tombs of state."  Someone worth a something on a state level.  It's the idea of worth.  For the speaker's worth is given tribute through jealousy or hate which she wants to shy away from, "To me would never penetrate the prayers and tears."

The idea of prayers and tears and tying them with jealousy and hate, and then tying that in with people is a long thread of reasoning.  This is what the act of death feels like.

So for the speaker at the end, Oblivion, "the shroud and envelope of happiness" is an afterlife thought.  The bliss is not something new.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Analysis of "Painting Vs. Poetry" by Bill Knott

Original Analysis found here: Analysis of "Painting Vs. Poetry"
Poem found here: "Painting Vs. Poetry" by Bill Knott


[Note: I'm copying and pasting my analysis for Bill Knott from his forum onto here -- partially to promote the Billknottarchive, and partially to continue the analysis on my blog]

The initial line already separates painting and poetry, “Painting is a person […]”.  The speaker adds human characteristics to the idea of painting.  Why is this important in the very beginning of a poem.  For all accounts, this poem is a compare and contrast poem where the definitions should be laid out in the beginning; furthermore, since this is a short poem (a sentence long) every type of image and comparison counts.

The placement of the person, “between the light and a / canvas so that their shadow is cast on the canvas” is not as important as, “then the person signs their name.”  What is not important is the process of art?  The placement, the play of light and shadow — the metaphor of an impression onto a canvas — none of these seem important.  Why?  Note how the signature at the end, the person signing his/her name seems important.  The last on the list to create art.  What I feel is described here is a visual representation of the self.

Versus what the speaker states about poetry:

[…] Whereas poetry
is the shadow writing its
name upon the person.

See how the idea of the signature is played around with again.  The shadow, which is a Jungian term if I’m not mistaken which influence Bly Kinnell, and many poets, is more of the forefront.  Here it is not the impression, but what the other half, the one hidden, writes.  There’s ideas of repression coming out here.  There’s ideas of the other coming out here.  But the main differences, a visual impression versus a shadow’s expression, is not a judgement holder (not to say one is better than the other) just an observation on an observation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Analysis of "Dancer" by Patricia Spears Jones

Poem Found Here:  "Dancer" by Patricia Spears Jones



"Memory" is the main thing in this poem.  Note that the word is used three times in the poem -- once per each stanza.  And, even though this poem starts out focusing on the dancer, the poem feels as though it wants to test the idea of memory and meaning.

Well, the play happens with this line, "Between fantasy and the memory of a man's carved / Torso". With these lines note how the idea of "fantasy" has been kept in the general -- some concept that is grounded in its allusiveness.   Rather the focus is on memory -- what does memory mean.  The literal of the memory in the first stanza is, "man's carved torso" but what it represents is," stroking and celebrations."  Something sexual, something intimate, something festive -- this all fro m a single black feather.

This type of sentiment bleeds over to the next stanza, "Today the sun's brightness is like that lover's kiss / Wonderful in the present and greater in memory."  Note that the physical description plays as a metaphor set up in the beginning stanza, but also note the judgement call here -- "wonderful in the present and greater in memory."  Memory is "greater."  Greater is what way though?  Funnily, as a fantasy that can be expanded upon with the last stanza.

"A memory that brings me back." -- Memory serving as a nostalgic device as the poem transitions from a day image to a night image "Stars dazzle in some other part of this world / Where the sun has set."  That passionate sun is gone and what is left is, "the moon illuminates / Swans diving into voluminous waters."  I think the assumption for me is that the swans are black -- a culmination of feathers going under or the swans are black in the scene, shadows in the night, and are even more hidden, more somewhat repressed, diving into the water.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Analysis of "A March" by Ishion Hutchinson

Poem Found Here: "A March" by Ishion Hutchinson


From there beginning of the poem there is a play of definition and how the definitions intertwine and contrast.  Well, literally in the beginning:

     Lesson of the day: Syria and Styria
     For Syria, read: His conquering banner shook from Syria.
     And for Styria: Look at this harp of blood, mapping.

It's a play of homophones -- similar sounding words to distinguish a difference; however, note the play on the placement of the verb "read" in line 2 and "Look" in line 3 in which the former is before the reading which should take more time to process, but the latter is more of an image that is taken in

"Now I am tuned" is an interesting way to introduce the "I" speaker.  There's a sense that the initial tercet was a warm up, now the real play of images and language stars here.  And within the second and third there's a play of image, "the forest shaken / on the bitumen" -- the artificial versus the natural. Furthermore, the play of expanse and image with, "synapses, intermittent, on edge / of shriek -- perhaps a cluster of fir, birches?"  What makes this image is the rhetorical question of both the self and the audience of what the image is and the transition of images.

The play of, "Don't get too hung up / on the terms; they have entropy / in common"  shows a turn in tone, but why?  The entropy in terms is not what we are supposed to get hung up on, but rather the connection between the contrast of images or the contrast of terms, "the public weal, / those obtuse centurions in the flare of bougainvillea."  A mark to a plant -- something based on the human ego to a gift that should placate the human ego.

The contrast of terms becomes blatant with, "Cruetly. / Justice."  What saves these lines from just being concepts is the set-up of how to look at terms and how, for that split second you want them to mean everything, they mean everything -- they mean too much -- they are a means of distraction, "Never mind, but do / pay attention to the skirmish"

Is this the skirmish? "the white / panther that flitters up the pole -- / its shade grows large on the ground."  Yes, there's a play of color with "white panther" which holds many references with "white" and "panther" plus the connections could lead to a whole essay based on color and race, but this is the distraction.  The "shade grows large on the ground" is the skirmish -- they play of space withing thoughts and connection.