Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Internal Structure #2: The Victims by Sharon Olds p.1006

In this poem, the child of a couple divorced, re-tells their feelings once their father is left with nothing. "When Mother divorced you, we were glad." This sets the tone of a bitter child with deep seeded daddy issues. Systematically the speaker lists the crumbling of their fathers life, after the divorce. First, the family, "kicked you (the father) out" and "Then you were fired, and we grinned inside." This twisted enjoyment the child feel, amplify when they think of how bad their "ex-father's" life is now.

Although this poem seems like one massive block of poetry, it is marked by structure with the reducing of the father's life. Starting with the mother kicking him out, then his divorce from his family and finally his firing from work. The layers of this unknown characters life are being peeled away, as the poem progresses. "Now I pass the bums in doorways...and I wonder who took it from them in silence until they had given it all away and had nothing left but this." Summing up the disintegration of their father's life, by relating it to a bum's empty life, shows the true emotional anger and hurt the child still feels. With the beginning of the poem being in the past, it ends with the child seemingly in present day and safely without their father.

Sharon Olds on her autobiographical poetry:

Internal Structure #1: Sonrisas by Pat Mora p.1005

Mora sets the poem of Sonrisas in, "a doorway between two rooms," this interesting place symbolises to me the door to two different places/worlds to the speaker in the poem. In the first room the speaker observes uptight women in "crisp beige suits, quick beige smiles that seldom sneak into their eyes." This observations sharply constrasts to the relaxed view of people in the other room. "laughter whirls with steam from fresh tamales sh, sh, mucho ruido (a lot of noise)", this atmosphere seem happier and more comfortable in the eyes of the speaker than the first one. Relaying these observations of both rooms over the noises of coffee being brewed, "i hear quiet clicks, cups of black coffee, click, click," Mora shows an example of the descriptive structure that is the base of her poem. The step by step way the speaker wanders around two rooms, describing the people inside and their movement, is the discrusive process of organizing the observations one by one. This was interesting to me because it a very limited point of view for the reader.

I also noticed how there were only two stanzas in the poem. This I thought was interesting because the speaker is meant to be "between two rooms." The first stanza is the observation of the people in one room and the second stanza, is the speaker observing the people in the other room. The different language used in the second stanza and second room, helps make the two rooms even more of seperate worlds. Throughout these observations, the speaker seems to be comparing and contrasting both worlds.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Language #2: Flames by Billy Collins


Smokey the Bear heads

into the autumn woods

with a red can of gasoline

and a box of wooden matches.

His ranger's hat is cocked

at a disturbing angle.

His brown fur gleams

under the high sun

as his paws, the size

of catcher's mitts,

crackle into the distance.

He is sick of dispensing

warnings to the careless,

the half-wit camper,

the dumbbell hiker.

He is going to show them

how a professional does it.

I love the poetry of Billy Collins so, I chose a funny and cynnical poem, for an outside of Norton choice. This one begins with, "Smokey the Bear heads into the autumn woods with a red can of gasoline and a box of wooden matches." This statement is funny for the ironic imagery Collins uses by placing the fictional flame-fighting bear with the proper equipment for starting a forest fire. The tone starts funny with this picture but with the next line, "his ranger's hat is cocked at a disturbing angle," this turns the tone to a more dark one because the idea that Smokey would actually start a fire becomes realistic. (Although the entire poem is fictional, smokey's intentions become clearer here). Collin's outlines Smokey's thoughts, "He is sick of dispensing warnings to the careless," his true feelings show with the description of "half-wit campers" and "dumbbell hikers." This playfully ironic poem boarders on reality by exposing Smokey's true annoyance for the many forest fires, started by idiotic people. "He is going to show them how a professional does it," this statement truly shows Smokey's bitterness and intentions of creating a fire for the desired effect of cruel irony.

I like this particular poem mostly because of the tone of irony and sarcasm that Collin's is known for. The imagery he creates with the descriptions of Smokey's, "brown fur gleaming in the sun" and "paws, the size of catcher's mitts" give the reality of Smokey the Bear being fed-up and literally going out to start a fire. Collin's light language, clearly sends the sarcastic message of retaliating against the idiotic people of the world, albit in a silly way.

Language #1: The Geranium by Theodore Roethke

The Geranium

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)
The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.
Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.

After reading My Papa's Waltz in the Norton I really liked Roethke's style of poetry and researched some more of his work and found The Geranium. The situation of this poem isn't clear in the beginning, its very ambiguous. The first line, "When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail, She looked so limp and bedraggles, so foolish and trusting." This description doesn't immediately point to the subject being a simple potted flower. The way Roethke describes the Geranium makes it take on a human persona, the reader feels the speakers feelings for the plant. Althought the speaker points out his mistreatment of the plant, "The things she endured!" He seems to feel guilt for his bad care for the withering plant. He refers to the geranium as "she" which attributes to the speakers idea of the plant being a woman. "Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me, and that way scary" This observation by the speaker shows the reader how deeply the speaker believes the plant is really alive, human being. Even though the owner of the plant seemed to not care much for the geranium because of the way he treated it, at the end he gets back at the maid who threw the flower away by firing her. "I was that lonely", is the last statement the speaker makes about his life, without his geranium. This simple sentence sums up the speakers true love for the flower and how sad he is that "she" is now gone.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Setting #2: Morning by Billy Collins p.903

This beginning of this poem is centered on the setting of morning in a persons house. The speaker is anounymous but gives a funny tone to the poem with their opinions towards each time of day, "Why do we bother with the rest of the day, the swale of the afternoon, the sudden dip into evening, then night...[with] his many pointed stars?" The speaker goes on to describe a typical morning setting in their house, "feet on the cold floor, and buzzing around the house on expresso-maybe a splash of water on the face, a palmful of vitamins", these details provide the image and situation of morning "rituals" for the speaker. The routine of morning is what they like, the familiar setting of waking up, going to the bathroom and splashing water on your face to fully wake up. This description explains the speakers love for the setting of morning in their house.

The speaker then goes on to describe their house more in depth, what they see when they might come into their living room. "dictionary and atlas on the rug, the typewriter waiting for the key of the head, a cello on the radio...the lawn steaming like a horse in the early morning." This situation is what the speaker awakes to every morning, looking around their house and seeing familiar things. Then looking outside to see the same lawn every morning covered in dew. I liike this poem because of these simple descriptions that everyone can relate to seeing in the morning.

Setting #1: To a Daughter Leaving Home by Linda Pastan p.888

In this simple poem, the speaker isn't very specific. It could be either the mother or father of the daughter in the poem, who is the subject. The tone is very nostalgic with the speaker, rememberin, "When I taught you at eight to ride a bicycle." This memory creates the setting for the poem but in an unclear way. It is obviously a memory from the parent of the little girl but, the poem only clearly states the situation of learning to ride a bike. Where this takes place is vague, "down the curved path of the park" is all the reader knows.

The parent follows the little girl as she takes off on her bike. Suprisingly the girl doesn't fall at all, "I kept waiting for the thud of your crash as I sprinted to catch up." The image of the parent running behind their child after teaching them how to ride a bike independently, metaphorically shows the child leaving their parent behind. The title To a Daughter Leaving Home, makes the reader think the poem would be when an adult daughter leaves home but, the author here takes an old memory of a simple day of learning to ride a bike as a metaphor. Learning to ride a bike is similar to learning to live on your own. Your parent teaches you all they know (like being taught to ride a bike) and then they set you free, to experience and learn on your own.

At the end the emotions of the parent realizing their child is growing up changes the tone to a sad but happy one. "you grow smaller, more breakable with distance", the parent sees their daughter growing up and naturally worries about their safety when they set off alone. The last line is bittersweet because the image and setting of the little girl in the distance,"hair flapping behind you like a hankerchief waving goodbye", shows what the parent sees of their young daughter, enjoying riding her new bike and unknowingly growing up and leaving home.

Audio reading of poem:

Linda Pastan on fiction & poetry:

Speaker #2: The Changeling by Judith Ortiz Cofer p.873

In the poem The Changeling, a little girl plays dress up for her fathers attention. The speaker of the poem is the little girl, who has grown up a little and talks of the past memories, "As a young girl vying for my father's attention." This arrangement of narration, adds to the poems feeling of telling a story of early childhood. The speaker almost reminesces over her silly antics, "I invented a game that mafe him look up from his reading and shake his head as if both baffled and amused."

The little girl in the poem changes into Che Guevara in order to amuse her father, this is where the title, The Changeling, can be explained. The little girl puts on a show for her father "until Mother called us for dinner", showing the childish and fun tone of the poem. The title only reflects that silly, make-belive world of children with the mystical title The Changeling. I feel like the title would be chosen by the little girl in the poem if she had to choose a name for her self.

Speaker #1: A Certain Lady by Dorothy Parker p.869

The speaker in this poem is a woman who is clearly talking to a man but, I feel like there is some generalization here and no clear person is being addressed. This is why I like this poem too, the anounymouse nature of the poem coupled with the teasing tone of a conniving woman, is funny to me. "Oh, I can smile for you...and paint my mouth for you a fragrant red" Here the speaker is having a dialogue with the universal male who is attracted to her. She points out throughout the poem, certain stereotypical ways of inticing a man and being overly feminine.

This poem is also interesting because the reader doesn't have a full understanding of the speaker until the end of the poem. The beginning stanza is all the back-and-forth of flirting and dating that the speaker talks of almost boringly. But, she also hints of her deeper nature, "nor can you ever see the thousand little deaths my heart has died." This sad statement changes the tone from a playful flirt to the darker soul of a woman with history.

The final statement of the speaker at the end, "And what goes on, my love, while you're away, you'll never know", truly alluminates her real self. Throughout the beginning of the poem the fakeness of her life was shown but slowly enough the sadness was exposed. When she says "my love", I have doubts that she actually means it or is just talking in the same fake tone as when she discusses flirting with a man. If it was meant to be taken that way, it fits with the idea that the speaker is actually a very sad woman, who hasn't really experienced love/someone who appreciates her without all the fake dating.

Tone #2: Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden p.850

In the first stanza of this poem, the narrator recounts the cold winter sundays when his father would warm their house before he awoke. The beginning tone is loving and sweet because the father wakes up early to do this without being asked or thanked, "...with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blazes" This kind act, shows the fathers love for his family. The descriptions of the fathers "cracked hands" that "ached from labor" show that he must work hard to provide for his family and truly cares about them when he gets up early in the "blueback cold" to make a fire. The first line starts oddly, "Sundays too my father got up early", instead of the regular "On sunday", the author chose a more mid-conversational beginning, suggesting the fathers actions on previous cold days. Saying "Sundays too..." could be in addition to the rest of the week that he gets up early to make fires. This just shows how often the father does this for his family and how much he really cares for them. The last line "No one ever thanked him" alludes to the feeling in the household, where no one every praised the fathers good deeds. This also foreshadowed the impending tone shift in the next two stanzas.

The last line of the next stanza, "fearing the chronic angers of that house", exposes the hidden anger living inside the home to the reader. This changes the tone from innocent to more somber, like there are more secrets inside the home. The child/speaker talks to their father, " indifferently" and doesn't seem to appreciate their father and what small loving things he does. The foreshadowing of the "chronic angers" of the house, gives justification to the childs reaction and demeanor towards their father. The last two lines hint at an almost sadness for not having shown this appreciation before, "What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?" The fathers love, was a "lonely office" where only he dwelt. The child never recipricated the love of the father. Although the love was flawed, ("chronic anger of that house") and not always perfect, the father really truly loved his family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tone #1: London by William Blake p.841

The first line of this poem reveals the setting of the character in the city of London. "I wander through each chartered street." The speaker then goes on to describe the city in a despairing and sad tone. "...mark in every face I meet marks of weakness, marks of woe." This first stanza sets the overall somber tone for the poem. The simple observations during a walk through London show the spealers emotional connection and experience in the city.

In the second stanza, the speaker further expresses what he sees and feels while walking through London. "In every cry of every man, in every Infant's cry of fear," these examples of innocent children's and strong men's cries, show the despair and sadness that the speaker feels in London. The crying symbolizes a cry for help from the people of London to a higher power (ex:government) but, they get no response or help. The next stanza has an even more explicit example of the people of London feeling beat down by their government, "the hapless Soldier's sigh runs in blood down Palace walls." The exaggerated image of a fallen soldier lying near the Palace walls, furthers the message of the people versus power, that the speaker feels while walking. This image also shifts the tone from a somber, almost accepting of despairity, to anger for being underminded as people by a higher power.

By the last stanza, the speaker summarizes his overall view and experiences of London. "But most through midnight streets I hear, How the youthful Harlot's curse...and blights with plagues the Marriage hearse." The specific example of the "young harlot's" and the "marriage hearse", could be a metaphor for the life of London. Youthful people full of life, end up miserable and cursing themselves for getting trapped. Either in marriage or by London itself, the more powerful governement that regulates its peoples happiness. This ending tone is the speakers thoughts and experiences of London. He can't escape the sadness and anger that fill London, he feels the paine even when he walks down the street.

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