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.