Friday, January 20, 2017

Analysis of "Flying at Night" by Ted Kooser

Poem found here: "Flying at Night" by Ted Kooser

"Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations."  I was thinking about this sentence for a while.  In regards to images -- above is individuals in a distance, and beneath is a collection in the distance.  What does that mean?  Well, this poem is a comparative poem like the next two lines, "Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies / like a snowflake falling on water."

For me, everything stated so far is something I cannot grasp -- literally.  Stars, constellation, galaxy -- so far off, so much imagined imagery.  Even the snowflake falling on water, which seems like something to hold on to, disappears.

But then the poem goes into a very specific scene:

[...] Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.

"A chill of that distant death" seems a bit sarcastic.  Something unable to grasp and just going back to the usual thing of "snaps on his yard light."  However, I take the chill as genuine -- or rather, there was a thought that happened that sobered up the farmer.  "little system of his care" brings in a comparative analogy of our own little galaxy -- everyone being celestial.

This idea ends out the poem, "All night, the cities, like shimmering novas, / tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his."   Being celestial doesn't mean not feeling alone -- loneliness occurring in individual galaxies -- individuals.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Analysis of "There is Absolutely Nothing Lonelier" by Matthew Rohrer

Poem found here: "There is Absolutely Nothing Lonelier" by Matthew Rohrer

The poem is a hyperbolic personification of loneliness.  The question is why?  Why go to his extent to explain loneliness.  To me, I found the poem entertaining and funny because of the personification.

"There is absolutely nothing lonelier / than the little Mars rover / never shutting down [...]"  My initial response to the first three lines was "hyperbole" and "humor?"  The hyperbole is apparent with the loneliness applying to an inanimate object; however, it's the description, and location that defines the loneliness -- Mars and never shutting down, "digging up / rocks, so far away from Bond street / in a light rain."

The short lines adds a sense of repetition -- "digging" for something that is not there.  I'm not sure what "Bond street" means, but, to me, it's a reference for being "down to earth" without being so apparent.

"I wonder / if he makes little beeps?"  The entering of the speaker in this poem brings a sense of commentary -- an observer standpoint on what loneliness and the mars rover means; or rather, the poem goes away from description and adds a rhetorical question about sound or rather a connection through communication that isn't responded to, "If so / he is lonelier still."

Also note that the rover is labeled as a "he" as in, "he coughs,"  which makes the rover human.  Too human?  I feel the speaker wants me to forget about the rover as the rover and imagine someone or myself in the position of being on mars digging by himself ("The Martian?")

"A shiny / thing in the sand turns out to be his."  This is, I think, the second concrete image in the poem (bond street in light rain being the first).  The first adding a sense of separation.  The second, an acknowledgement only to the self.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Analysis of "Sonnet" by Bill Knott

Go here for Bill Knott:

Soon, it'll be 3 years since Bill Knott's death.

It's odd to think about being able to e-mail someone and get a response from them.  I'm a nobody who e-mailed him out of the blue and he responded in kind.  But I don't regret trying to connect.  In any case, I'm reminiscing.

"The way the world is not" is an interesting opening line fragment.  The line implies a deficiency.  The world is not enough, but then the enjambment leads to something personal, "Astonished at you" which comes off as a an insult which the speaker doubles down on, "It doesn't blink a leaf / When we step from the house".

I think the usage of "we" changes the tone of the poem from casual insult to something curious -- as the poem has a plan from the comparison.

Leads me to think
That beauty is natural, unremarkable
And not to be spoken of
Except in the course of things
The comparison is in the negation.  Beauty, although natural, is something the world will never acknowledge, never remarks on.  But there's always Helen of Troy (if you think about the past) or any celebrity (if you think about the now).  According, to the speaker though his persona ideal of beauty is never remarked on with these exceptions

The course of singing and worksharing
The course of squeezes and neighbors
The course of you tying back your raving hair to go out
And the course of course of me
This is the integral part of the poem -- the exceptions.  "Singing and worksharing" seems like workshopping -- creating poems, creating art about the other which is still unremarkable.  "squeezes and neighbors,"  something to show what surrounds: people close does not mean the world.  Then the single action of tying a hair back and the repetition of a dumbstruck speaker -- not what the world cares about.

But the speaker is astonished "Astonished at you / The way the world is not".  The comparison being a more personal astonishment rather than a cursory astonishment.  But why explain why the world is not astonished?  To me, it makes the speakers voice more sincere and lonely -- he can't compare to the world and he's just an exception.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Analysis of "Orison" by Betsy Sholl

Poem Found Here: "Orison" by Betsy Sholl

Orision, a prayer.

I think what interests me the most about this poem is the intimacy of items.  I could be facetious and ask, "did god really have this jacket."  However, the poem lends itself to a certain vulnerability that is both ignored and acknowledged.

Let me  give back to God
his jacket, his locket,
his thin slippers,
sunglint, sleetspit, stars.

Note the "s" alliteration that moves along the poem as though to get through the poem in a momentum.  The poem does build with the images from jacket to stars, but the poem makes me wonder who the "God" represents in the poem.  Does this matter though?  I think the importance is what the speaker is letting go of.

And here's my cracked,
my sullen, unstrung guitar,
hung like a rabbit
in the butcher's window

Of all things that feels like has sentimental value to the speaker, it's this guitar.  It's the way the guitar is described through the personification of "sullen" to the simile of the rabbit.  There's a resignation through giving up, "a hole in the belly / where the song should be."

The next two lines has a circular feel to it," Emptiness only / emptiness can see."  Philosophy through the senses.  My question is would God also be this emptiness?  Is that why he needs these items?  Is the the speaker empty from giving these items away (well this is answered directly with the last two lines, "Let this be my prayer. / Does anything belong to me?").

By giving up the items, God becomes the forefront of the poem.  I'm not asking why the speaker gives these things up because there is an answer -- a prayer, a favor, but there isn't an answer to the "why God wants this."  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Analysis of "I Remember You As You Were" by Pablo Neruda

The poem is written in four quatrains.  The poem lingers with its images -- the grey beret and the idea of autumn to create a poem of lament or celebration perhaps.

I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.
All the quatrains are end-stopped, so every quatrain feels like a scene.  Here the speaker first notices the other with "grey beret and the still heart" -- the visual que; however, note the contrasting images of the flames in the eyes and the water of the soul.  These images usually don't come together unless to compare something.  My guess the comparison refers to the external aspect versus the internal.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

Desire?  Want? Lust?  The second half of this stanza takes over sine the emotion comes out in the forefront.  What is actually happening is the the other is holding on to the speaker and the thoughts come up -- a fire and a flower entangling with the self and want.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.
This feels more like a dream sequence rather than an actual affair.  The phrase, "the autumn is far off," seems like time has passed between the moment and what the speaker remembers.  Furthermore, the images of the other are the same, but the simile of "heart like a house," feels like a forced image.  Something to come back as a memory.  Sure, the affair can be implied; however, does it matter -- it's what the speaker remembers from action to touch, "And my kisses fell, happy as embers."

Sky from a ship.  Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

The expansive images in the first line creates a distance from the speaker and the other, "Sky from a ship. Field from the hills" which parallels the memories -- something hazy of light and smoke and a pond.

But the speaker goes back to the memories and focuses on the eyes -- those blazing eyes and that leaves of the soul.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Analysis of "Child" By David Mason

This is a question and response poem.  Question and response is a rhetorical device that plays with anticipation,  When the question is asked, the reader naturally assumes there will be something to answer; however, the first thing that I noted with the question was how condescending it reads, "Does it make you sad to see the close / of the family romance"

Maybe I'm reading the tone wrong, but with the poem called "Child" and the first question being so probing that it feels like an attack on emotions like, "oh are you sad that you didn't get an ice cream cone -- how tragic."  There's a sense of irony and sarcasm with the first two lines for me plus the content  of close of the family romance adds a tinge of bitterness which feels directed towards the child.

"to know the house is grounded in the flow / and left to chance / by currents you never had control of?"  Yes, the image of the broken home as a natural disaster is a common comparison; however, I noted the pun of "currents" as a flow and a time frame.  Also the way the sentence is framed, the tone of condescension continues -- oh you never had control versus currents you lost control of.  To me, such a simple twist of a few words adds to the sarcasm, bitterness and tension of the question which continues to the "answer" of the poem.

"Well, I could say / I'm sorry till the last of all our days."  It's not the act of saying sorry that's being focused on, but rather the intent and meaning behind the apology.  The tone sounds dismissive based on how casual the initial response is, "well, I could say I'm sorry" or "does it make you sad"

Then to parallel the disaster nature imagery, the poem ends with a more grounded image, "My flesh is feeling clay / eroded by more tides than I can blame / or bring myself to name."  It is the flesh that feels the clay, not the speaker.  The clay is eroded by the tides.  What does the clay represent?  Not the speaker as the sentence clearly separates the two.  The clay and the tides are the ruse -- the focus should be on "I can blame or bring myself to name."

It's not an emotional epiphany.  I feel that the forced rhyme continues the sarcasm.  That it's not the realizing that he's holding back something; rather, the speaker is holding back in spite to keep the blame going like the tides.  And to actually name them would invalidate the experience, the bitter sarcasm, the truthful bitterness.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Analysis of "Fortress" by Chana Bloch

Poem found here: "Fortress" by Chana Bloch

A fortress is a heavy symbolic idea of keeping people out and in for safety reasons.  Things trying to attack -- no problem, things trying to escape -- no problem.  A fortress is there to keep things, whether you like it or not.

This is why, "Silence is a strenuous language / but we have chosen it." There's a sense of tension between the "we" and if something is said then it could open a delicate situation; however, what this leads to is an undefined language where actions are taken to overblown proportions, "A shut door, a shrug, / stone upon stone."

The image of a the stone reoccur again in the next stanza.  This image of something steady and solid, but silent is given context of, "The stones have a history / They were pulled from the rubble / of an earlier weekend."  Note here that "earlier weekend" pretends to be a specific time frame, but is rather due to the usage of earlier.  Yes the stones come from a weekend somewhere in the past -- sometime earlier.

The next stanza brings the tension ahead:
After each skirmish we retreat
to warm ourselves at a silence.
And still it's cold
Let the cold be our comfort!
The play of tactile imagery  of warm and silence parallels a push and pull of a relationship.  The warmth coming after a skirmish (an understanding to bring closeness) and still it's cold -- which feels like the overall feel of the "we."  When the stanza ends with a proclamation it sounds like a war cry and exasperation all in one.

Now the last stanza I have is different from the last stanza from the website.  The white space in line two and three does make a difference "We live in fear.  / A single word."  Since it feels like the single word is what the speaker is waiting for to crumble the fortress.  But with the stanza left aligned there lacks the tension of wanting something to topple and not at the same time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Analysis of "Watch" by Mike White

Poem Found Here: "Watch" by Mike White

This short poem has a strong narrative as well as image in it.  The premise being "Dog roped to a tree, / perfecting a circle."  It's a muted scene, but a relatable one.  I have a dog and I'm guessing the majority of people had at least seen a dog that was tied up before.

The emotional pull happens in just three lines, "in the leaves, / in the snow, / in the grass."  Part of me projects sympathy towards the dog -- it seems to be neglected and left alone.  But I know this type of reading is a projection by me.

What fascinates me is multiple images setting the time.  Perfect circles in the leaves, snow, and grass does signify time well (fall, winter, and spring).  And I can just imagine it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Analysis of "Had She" by Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.

Poem found here: "Had She" by Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.

What starts out as a hypothetical hyper-focused location poem, "Had she stayed / Had she stepped up / Into the train that carried them down" of a missed chance or opportunity turns into four lines that I don't understand.

What kailāsaranashiva

Language in poetry is, as one can assume, the most important part in constructing poem.  So when I encountered this the first time I guess three years ago my comment was "what the hell is this -- language."

Something once familiar, or rather, something that the scenario brings is that when the reader feels the most comfortable and aware -- "Home through Rangoon and Vientiane," does the language make me feel less at home -- yes.  Then why feel so distant or rather foreign.

There's something metapoetic in the construction of the lines -- so precise is the language that it seems that the poet has went back to get the right wording.  I can't translate those lines in google translate, but should that matter.

Who, in context, is saying these words, "In the cripple's mouth after he spat".  This theoretical she would know the translation from this cripple rather know the exact language.
O Lord Shiva on Mount Kailash
Moon-Jeweled Serpent-Crowned
Ocean of Mercy Remover of Delusion,
Protect me I surrender 
I'm not sure if this is the correct translation.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is the intent of the translation -- a humble grandiose gesture -- a simple prayer.  But not directed to the people in the poem, rather the idea of someone listening.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Analysis of "The Fly" by William Blake

Poem found here: "The Fly" by William Blake

From condescending to humble, the poem plays with tone as the speaker plays with the concept of "the fly."  The initial stanza, "Little fly, / Thy summer's play / My thoughtless hand / has brushed away" has a sense of play from it.  It's dismissive of the existence of the fly as a nuisance.  As the poem progresses, there's a change of thought.

"Am not I / A fly like thee?"  I wonder what caused this kind of crisis.  A twist of the hand?  Something as simple as that to go introspective.  Well, this type of rash thinking plays with the adjective "thoughtless" as thought the insight is still in play.

"Or art not thou / A man like me?"  So a dual simile is set up.  The question is what criteria is a man like a fly or a fly like a man: "For I dance / And drink and sing, / Till some blind hand / Shall brush my wing."  These lines focus on the physical at first -- singing, dancing, drinking -- and than the comparative hand brushing away the speaker's wing parallels the speaker brushing the fly away.  This comparison is a bit trite, but the triteness sobers up the speaker in essence.

It is not the deep thoughts that sober a person up, but that slap of a line or idea.

"If thought is life / And strength and breath, / And the want of thought is death."  What triggers from the slap is the thought of death.  An overreach.  Perhaps, but note that the speaker's feelings fluctuate and zoom in and out at a fast pace.  In a short poem like this the forced urgency tells more about the speaker than the thoughts of the speaker.  There's a force to keep switching to survive -- size, thought, questioning.

The answer is quite humorous, "Then am I / A happy fly,"  Is the fly happier knowing it's short but physically fun existence -- why not?  Why not just be happy knowing "If I live, / Or if I die."

But the poem ends there -- without an answer but a definite question.  Knowing life and death, does that matter and to what scale.  And what does it matter to a man or a fly who are both one in the same.