Sunday, September 19, 2010

Little Apocalypse by Charles Wright

The first thing I noticed about this poem was the different perspective it seemed to give me while I was reading. It was like being transported into the insect world, except it seemed to feel like I was smaller than even an ant, and the ant would be the equivalent of a horse, with its ground-shuddering hooves. The grass submissively bows to every force, the butterflies dragon down to flowers, the earthworm huddles, the dung beetle bores, the robin reworks the ground. These personifications greatly enhance the perspective, making the creatures and their actions seem larger, and some of the words gave me an anxious feeling, like something big had just happened, or would happen soon.

"Inside the basements of the world, the clear-out's begun...." The first two stanzas simply gave perspective, but this line transitions the poem from an innocent, fantastical world to the true apocalypse. And all of this happens so suddenly, in about four lines, so it caught me off guard the first time I read through this. In fact, I didn't even notice the line, "Bright bandages of fog starting to comfort the aftermath," until the second time I read through, probably because I was so distracted by the four horses on the black horizon. But this line changed the whole purpose of the poem for me.

I had just assumed the poem was about the devastating destruction of a tiny world and how all life was wiped out, but this line hints at a less fateful conclusion. To me, the simple fact that there was anything left to "comfort" was a sign of hope. Which led me to wonder if the purpose of the poem was not to bemoan the end of helpless creatures by an overwhelming force, but to show that there could be restoration, even after a tragic event that should have swept away all life. I would certainly like to believe that this poem, unlike most of our other readings, was not just about loss and death, but that it was about the fact that sometimes devastation can mean renewal and hope.

1 comment:

  1. I like this observation: "To me, the simple fact that there was anything left to "comfort" was a sign of hope." I love reading your blog, Hannah! :)