Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Cat by Miroslav Holub

I actually really enjoyed this poem when we discussed it in class. The ideas we talked about were great, but I feel like I want to elaborate on some of the creative techniques that were used.

There were a few key things that I noticed the author used in the poem. The first was his vivid and creative imagery. For example, "Outside it was night like a book without letters." This simile in the first stanza is not only imaginative in creating a picture in the reader's mind, but it also has a hidden meaning. Holub did not just say the pages of the book were blank, something that would, incidentaly, imply a blankness or brightness. He said that there were no letters, which could mean that the book could contain symbols or pictures. This provides a much different connection to night than a blank page, perhaps saying that there are still things in the night, even though they are different than we would expect. Holub follows this simile with a metaphor, "...the eternal dark dripped to the stars through the sieve of the city." Normally we would imagine something dripping towards the earth because of gravity, which makes the image even stranger than it might have been. The way I saw it, it was an interesting way of painting a picture of the darkness slipping through the sieve of a city and dripping up towards the heavens, creating the stars.

I also noticed some of the more structural techniques that he used. Repitition was a big factor. The repitition of the phrases, "I said to her...," and , "a black cat...the black night," were the basis of three of the later stanzas which describe the disappearance of the cat into the night, and the cautions of the speaker to the cat. Also, Holub visually singled out a section of one specific phrase on its own, separating two parts of the poem: "But a window was opened and she went." This seems to be the turning point of the story, the moment when the cat leaves, against the speaker's wishes, leaving on impulse through a random, open window, never to be seen again. The author also begins the last stanza with , "But..." creating a connection to the singled out phrase. I have to admit that I did not completely understand the relevance of the self-reflection and reference to "northerly wind" in this last stanza, although I might be able to gain a better understanding of it if I really tried. Other than that, though, this poem was very interesting and fun to piece together.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

The first thing I noticed about this poem was the distinct rhyme scheme (aabbccdd,etc.) coupled with the strange way the lines were broken up with a ridiculous number of dashes. It all flowed very nicely in the end, I just thought the pauses were slightly awkward.

Then there was the disheartening beginning to the poem, "From childhood's hour I have not been as others were." Which is followed by more descriptions of how the speaker could not relate to others, or love the same things others did. The turning point in this poem is the italicized "Then" at the beginning of the ninth line. This turning point also happened during the speakers childhood, apparently. Poe repeats the word "From" to start off the next six phrases, which are describing natural elements from which this "mystery which binds [him] still," is being extracted. We are never actually told what this mystery is, so we are left to infer from the context that it came from some sort of celestial power, or something to that affect, and that it completely altered the course of his foreign, misunderstood existence.

The last few lines stood out to me though, and I don't entirely understand why Poe structured them to do so. "And the cloud that took the form (when the rest of heaven was blue) of a demon in my view." This is the only spot where Poe chose to place parenthesis, which makes the line stick out in the way it both sounds and looks. I also thought it was interesting how he chose to interject the idea of the heavens, when he could have just used the word sky, in the middle of the description of a demon-shaped cloud. I assumed he was referencing some biblical aspect of his loneliness, but I could be wrong. Other than that, I thought this poem could have been summed up in about three lines, and, as nicely as it flows, I found it very unremarkable.

PS: I commented on Becky's post on Sort of a Song, and Mandee's post on Desert Places.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Song of the Powers by David Mason

At first I thought this was a creative little poem about the power which is assumed in the game of rock-paper-scissors, or at least the rock-paper-scissors concept. Each of the first three stanzas is dedicated to each element's claim of its own power, and what it could do with that power. The rock crushes the scissors, the words and images of the paper smother the rock, and the scissors' "knives [gash] through paper's ethereal lives." Mason also refers to wishes twice, in the first and third stanza, which I associated with the lucky chance basis of the game.

But then I read the last stanza and I was a little taken aback. "As stone crushes scissors,as paper snuffs stone and scissors cut paper,all end alone." This quirky personification of power in a simple conflict resolution game suddenly turned into this depressing prediction of loneliness. The powers which each of the choices contain all, apparently, lead to being alone. What Mason means exactly by "alone" I am still a little unsure of, but he seems to be fairly certain that it is everyones fate: "They all end alone. As you will, you will." This is the first time he directly addresses the reader, which I thought was a way of jolting the reader into realizing that the poem was actually referring to a characteristic of human nature, or something to that affect. He also repeats "you will" to reinforce his tragic conclusion, ending his poem on a rather pessimistic note. But of course there always has to be something bleak and unpleasant in pretty much all of our poems, so I don't know how I could have thought that. I suppose it was still a very imaginative poem in its own right, though.