Sunday, December 21, 2008

Internal Structure 2: Sonrisas

-Pat Mora

The structure of this poem is mainly centered around contrasting two very different worlds. the metaphor that represents these worlds is the two rooms mentioned in line two. The speaker, however, is in between the two doorways, a part of both worlds. But, at the same time she is not really part of either worlds. Her world is the doorway, and not the rooms. The poem structures itself into two parts, the initial being a description of the first room. In this part, the speaker looks at her american lifestyle. The reader can tell that she is fully assimilated in american culture through her use of the symbol coffee. Her mention of the things important to an american lifestyle: tenure, curriculum budget. Though these are true mostly for someone involved in education. She talks of the american women in this room as having "beige suits" with "beige smiles that seldom sneak into their eyes". The speaker is talking about the stressful nature of the efficiency driven capitalism that is the trademark of modern american culture. In the second part, the speaker describes another, very different room. In this second room is her mexican heritage. The senoras here have faded dresses to compare with the beige suits of the women in the first room. These women also drink sweet milk coffee to compare with the strong black coffee of room 1. The big emphasis here is culture. While the first room focuses on her job (i.e. curriculum etc.), the second focusses on tamales. This contrast is supported by the other mentioned ones and seems to support the difference between the two rooms. The last two lines, however, show their relationship. The mentioning of the mexican smiles as being trapped in "their dark, mexican eyes" is used to show that the speakers mexican culture actually relieves some of the stress put on her by her american lifestyle.

Internal Structure 1: The Victims

"The Victims"
-Sharon Olds

The Structure of this poem is dominated by the idea of change. The victims mentioned in the title are not only the mother but also her children. They are essentially abused by a domineering man who's bad habits and behaviors ruined their life. However, during the section of the poem where this is described, the speaker is immature and perhaps even naive. This is evident as she makes a comparison between her father and an employee, a very naive comparison. The child in this first section has emotions that seem to mirror her mother's. She "took it and took it" right along with her mother and "pricked with her for years". The speaker is a child and although her father may have been a "slug" of a man she doesn't really comprehend exactly who she is saying these horrible things to. In fact, the poem doesn't mention any actual abuse by the father. All that is mentioned is that he may have been an alcoholic and a workaholic. Both of these are reasons a wife may divorce a husband(though not necessarily good ones), but neither of these are reasons to condemn a man. Nor are they reasons to compare him to Richard Nixon! The reader seems to realize this though, hence the change in tone in line 17.
The moment that the reader identifies the "you" mentioned throughout the poem as her "father", the poem shifts from the angry, possibly naive, child to a mature adult. As an adult, the speaker realizes that she was saying those things about her father, and that deep down she can notice the "underwater fire of their eyes". She is no longer reflective of her mother's emotions, but instead represents her own feelings. This is the change that Olds creates through her clever usage of internal structure, from the naive to the mature.

Language 2: This is Just to Say

"This is Just to Say"
-William Carlos Williams

Williams employs very plain language with very short sentences in supporting his theme. Yet, it seems as though this simplicity is actually what makes this poem unique. The words he uses epitomize concision. He uses words such as spontaneous and unplanned, which point to his apparent belief that life must be lived "in the moment", so to speak. This causes the speaker to make daring decisions regardless of risk. This is evident in his eating of plums even though someone else was saving them. His many transitory thoughts also seem to point to his overall lack of care for planning or foresight. The speaker lives in the moment, even in his language. Towards the end of the poem the speaker says "forgive me", realizing that he made an error. The speaker at the very least does pay attention to the past and cares enough about the future of his relationships with others in order to let go of his childish behavior and take responsibility like an adult. He accepts his decision instead of trying to hide it. The poem calls people to reach for opportunities, and take advantage of the ones that present themselves. The author wants his readers to live in the moment, but still pay attention to the consequences. He is trying to display a sense of daring along with the support of thoughtful intentions. He is using language to display his life's philosophy and why it it worth adopting.

Language 1:"Messy Room"

"Messy Room"
-Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s poems are never taken too seriously and Messy Room seems to be in line with that general rule. Silverstein’s choice of words are simple yet descriptive. The rhyme scheme that he employs affects the poems attitude; making it more quick-witted and concise. Using simple syntax as opposed to a more complex language the poem adopts a more playful attitude, similar to that of a child. His repetition of  “Whosever room this is should be ashamed” accumulates and adds to the playful irony in the speakers realization that the room was their own. The images Silverstein uses are both humorous and telling. Lizards sleeping in beds and underwear on the lamps are unusual and therein really quite funny. While most readers would have their own messy rooms, they hardly become as bad as the one described in this poem. Through this usage of simple and playful language, Silverstein is able to capture a humurous irony in a very lighthearted manner.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Situation/Setting Poem 2: Singapore

-Mary Oliver

I found this poem to be quite disturbing at first. I believe that the author does a good job of creating suspense by withholding information from the reader at first. The setting, Singapore, is relatively unimportant to the meaning of this story as it simply signifies the third-world country and thusly the desperation within it. The situation, however, is a educated woman sees another woman washing a toilet seat. This sight disgusts the first woman as she doesn't initially know how to deal with this situation. In their following interaction the author is able to create a situation that tracks human perception. The first woman has obviously not been exposed to that aspect of life, which is why she is so initially shocked. The second woman, however, is far more experienced with those aspects of life, which is why she is able to remain far more tranquil during their encounter, offering simply a soft smile. The first woman is suddenly opened up to a huge level of desperation that she has never worried about. The speaker feels superficial in her behavior, evident in her comparison between her reaction and the birds in the poem. She believes that the only reason either of them smiled is because they wished to be polite, and not because they actually cared, although it seems that at least the speaker wanted to make this connection. However it seems that through this situation, making that relationship with someone so different is very difficult.

Situation/Setting Poem 1: To a Daughter Leaving Home

"To a Daughter Leaving Home"
-Linda Pastan

I honestly found this poem to be very touching. I found the language to be very sweet, sad yet happy. The mother was sad to see her daughter become "smaller...with distance" but happy to see that she was learning how to ride her bike. The situation of this poem is simply the title, "a daughter leaving home". The speaker is the mother and her perspective changes from that of an aid to more of a bystander. While the poem has no solid setting (ie. time, place, etc.), it does take place in the distant past. Thusly, the entire poem becomes the situation. The author uses her entire work as a means to describe this one memory. She uses no space whatsoever to discuss the characters, their current situation, or even the setting. The only clue is the title, this gives us some insight as to the families current situation, which allows us to connect it to the past situation described in the poem in order to draw meaning. This meaning, the effect of departure on a mother, is especially significant because the characters are mother-daughter. This enhances the connection that is being broken as the daughter rides away from her "wobbled" start to her unforeseeable endpoint.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Speaker Poem 2: She Dealt Among the Untrodden Ways

"She Dealt Among the Untrodden Ways"
- William Wordsworth

The speaker of this poem is a very mysterious figure. He keeps us in the dark about both him and Lucy. He is grieving over her death but the situation surrounding this is kept from us. He doesn't go into any actual physical descriptions about Lucy, just saying that she was "fair as a star". The speaker is obviously grieving over Lucy's death. He is so overwhelmed with emotions that he is unable to to express "the difference" now that Lucy is gone. He doesn't discuss her physical features as the thought of her form would be too much for him to handle. He recalls simply her in comparison to her surroundings, "a violet by a mossy stone" and "a star, when only one is shining in the sky". The speaker is talking of how Lucy was a rarity, a diamond in the rough as it were. He found her to be the silver lining to the world. His words here simply reinforce the immense toll this must be taking on his mind. Wordsworth is displaying grief in a very real form, an overwhelming entity that consumes people.
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not Wordsworth wrote this poem as a reference to a nonfictional person, and also who this person might be. I have done a little research on this debate, but I do not believe that this poem refers to any specific Lucy, but instead I believe this is an example of human guilt, which can only come from a lifetime of experience. I personally think that Wordsworth is using this poem to describe human emotion using his immense wealth of experience as opposed to a single event/person. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Speaker Poem 1: Sudden Journey

"Sudden Journey"
-Tess Gallagher

The author made it blatantly obvious right at the beginning of the poem that the speaker is both a women and is a child. Although it is later revealed that the speaker is an adult, she is speaking from her past. It is evident that the speaker is speaking from her childhood through her syntax in the first few lines. She uses mostly short sentences and statements. These are also generally observational, another sign that the speaker at this point is a child. However, we soon see a shift in the speakers identity as she goes from her memory to her current adulthood. She begins to reminisce about the event and talk about its importance. This transition is evident in her change in diction. The speaker suddenly begins to speak more eloquently and uses far more complex thoughts and ideas, as evidenced in the "cold platitude" and the "running" in the last few lines. 

here is a reading of the poem by the author! In addition there is an interview with her about her inspiration for the poem. Enjoy!

Tone Poem 2: London

-James Blake

The narrators tone in "London" acts as a door into his/her character. Through the tone we can decipher the observer's view of his setting, London. This is what tells us about him/her. The narrators tone is generally playful, making witty remarks throughout the poem. The narrator, thusly, seems like a witty and charismatic figure. However, if you take a closer look you can see an underlying somber tone. The narrator feels "chartered", rigidly clamped as opposed to free in a bustling metropolis. He feels that London is cluttered to the narrator. He finds it to be dirty and revolting, calling the Thames river "chartered". He finds the people frail and depressing, utterly disheveled. Much like with the city he despises the people. He feels as though all of the city is shackled in "mind-forged manacles". the phrase "hapless soldier's sigh" offers yet another dimension to the narrator's discontent. He feels oppressed and constricted, as though the air in London chokes him. He sees everything, even the cries of vendors, as cries of disdain begging for help.
Personally, I find the narrator to seem paranoid. He sees everything as negative. He has no balance or counter to his negative beliefs. He acts like his life has no upside and that the city is taking everything from him. His tone, in my opinion, makes him seem paranoid, obsessive, and desperate for a belief  to cling to.

Tone Poem 1: Leaving the Motel

Leaving the Motel

- W.D. Snodgrass

This Poem concentrates on the perception of love. It concentrates on the process by which a cheating couple hides their relationship. As the poem progresses, the narrator goes through several checks in order to make srue that he/she cheats correctly. I found it particularly interesting that throughout this poem the only mention of the lovers is the pronoun "we". The tone supports the narrator's secrecy and the immense importance that he/she gives it.
The narrator acts nervous in the first stanza, as though he is worried. He mentions details such as the "kids holler" as though these children could somehow destroy him. He is attempting to contain his encounter and cut it off from the entire world. He fails to show much emotion in what should be a very emotive and passionate occurrence. This is evident through the cold and calculating tone that carries from the second stanza on. The lovers go through a very detailed procedure, and implement their plan without any sign of love towards one another. The only exception to this is one stanza in which they deal with "our lilacs, the wayside flowers". Here there is a scintilla of the attraction that must have brought them together in the first place.
The most incredible thing about this poem is how little we learn about the lovers. We never learn their names, their occupations, how they met, or any detail of varying significance surrounding their lives. This major theme, detachment, is absolutely evident through the narrators cold, calculating, and nervous tone.