17 October 2017

Consideration

Should a poem need explanation? Perhaps we really do "murder to dissect". After all, a poem isn't an extract from a washing machine manual. It isn't a financial statement. Some people think that poems are there to be decoded, translated, examined like specimens in a laboratory. I don't agree with or approve of such a mechanistic approach to poetry.

Nevertheless, I should like to reflect on yesterday's poem. And first of all I say thank you to Jennifer in Florence, South Carolina for attaching the curious word "liminal" to my first picture. It's not a word that is in everyday use. This is what a dictionary has to say about it:-
And yes. it was easy to see why Jennifer might have  seen the edge of the sea as such a place - a sort of limboland.

I thought of the lugworms as earthbound and of the seabirds as heavenly, soaring up into the blue. The human figures in the poem are therefore at a "boundary" between land sea and sky and perhaps also on the threshold of their own future with the past behind them.

There's a deliberate circularity in this poem as the end focus is again upon creatures that live at the edge. Like the shadowy human protagonists there is a connection between the worms in the sand and the birds. They also have a relationship.

Poems will often concern themselves with the very sound of words - echoes, half-rhymes, full rhymes and repetition. I wanted the personal pronoun "I" to stand alone in the fifth line - solitary upon the shore and in the ninth and tenth lines - "Along the margin/ Of that bay" I was consciously nodding to William Wordsworth and his "Daffodils".

Regarding the eleventh line, human life with all its baggage can be burdensome don't you think? We are forever "weighing" or assessing the "burdens" of memory, hope and conscience that we carry. In this we are dissimilar to  the lugworm and the seabird whose lives are more elemental, more driven by the moment. For them it is much easier and simpler to live in the liminal zone.

"Sky" in the second half of the poem chimes with "I" and "fly" in the first half.. "Shore" rhymes strongly with "soar" to seal the poem. There are plenty of "s" sounds to suggest the sound of the sea upon the sand and I like the image of those lugworm coils. I thought of "Spew their little coils" and "Pipe their little coils" but instead opted for "Leave" which has less anthropomorphic association. 

Sue said she never thought she would read a poem about lugworms. I am just pleased to have made a poem that contains lugworms. They are hidden from us in their burrows like the truth and the happiness we seek. There but not there in the liminal zone.

15 comments:

  1. Should a poem need explanation? Perhaps we really do "murder to dissect".

    Having studied German at university, I have been used to dissecting and analysing literature. What was the writer was trying to get at; why were the characters portrayed in a certain manner; what was the symbolism etc.? I can remember reading Kafka - in the original German - and having to read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams to analyse it further. That took some doing. After leaving university my head was so saturated with dissection, that I could not pick up a book (English or otherwise) for three decades. All I could read were trashy women's magazines. It is only in the last ten years that I have taken to reading books again. Having said that, it was interesting to read why you wrote your poem the way you did. Move over Wordsworth!

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    1. It's good that after three decades you managed to get back to proper reading ADDY. I can appreciate how that kind of academic intensity can take one away from the kind of appreciation that the original writer hoped for.

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  2. Poetry is about the many hidden emotions we lug around within our heart and soul.

    It does one good to let them wriggle free from time to time, without the need of explanation.

    To lighten the burden, so to speak...

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    1. Your use of "lug" and "wriggle free" have a special relevance in connection with my poem. Clever.

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  3. Thank you for explaining that, the poem makes a lot more sense to me now. I was just too lazy to read and interpret it properly. And I've learnt a new word - liminal.

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    1. I am glad my comments made you think again about the poem Sue. Thanks for reading it in the first place.

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  4. "They are hidden from us in their burrows like the truth and the happiness we seek." This, to me, is a wonderful line. Don't give up on us. We like your poetry and like to analyze so that we may see where our own lives or our memories or experiences fit within it. Human nature, I guess.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reflection Donna.

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  5. I was not familiar with the word liminal; thank you for making me learn something new!

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    1. I do not think I have ever used the word before. Jennifer unlocked it for me.

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  6. Thank you for taking the word your photo evoked for me and building such a beautiful poem with it!

    I love words like "liminal" that aren't commonly used.

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    1. Forgetting the meaning, it is a pleasant-sounding word.

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  7. A complete dissection of poem. I would have chosen this photo too for a verse.

    Alphie

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    1. Thanks for reflecting on this poem Alphie.

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  8. thank you for making me learn something new!


    แตกใน xxx

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