Moon – Janette Pieloor – Analysis

Moon

My mother comes to me
with a smile and an egg in her hand;
places it in my palm, shows me how
to crack its orange shell, unfold
its rubbery overcoat, reveal
a tiny soft ball we name Moon.

In a soft voice, just for me,
my Mother explains how Moon
and I will always be
part of each other, in a shared journey
to womanhood: a rhythm
Moon controls.

Janette Pieloor
from Then and Now’

The poem is all about communication between mother and daughter. It is centred on one object ‘the moon’ which has significant personal meaning and obviously it centres on motherhood and the shared journey of life through on-going birth.

The first stanza gives instruction on how to crack an egg. I’ve forgotten how I learnt to crack an egg on the side of a cup and open up the shell to pour it into a container without breaking the yoke. I can imagine mother and daughter together in the kitchen and the spontaneous thought on the naming of the yoke as moon.

And in the second stanza Jeanette’s mother softly takes the opportunity to state that always connection not only the birth link and physical DNA connection but you get a reinforcement of the latent mother-daughter bond – ‘always be part of each other’.  It is one of those wonderful moments in life when each are fully receptive to one another and her mother shares on a very personal one to one basis – ‘just for me (her)’.

The moon is often seen as a symbol for mother and in this peom a reference to control; life and the on-going future of humanity in her hands.

I think we all can find a moment where an object, or perhaps a few words, have indelible significance from our childhood experience in communing with our parents on an intimate level.

And as would be expected the then becomes more precious with the differential from the now as we cherish memories from the past with age.

Janette gave me permission to share this poem on this Site. She is in our U3A Poetry Appreciation Group. The poem comes from her latest book recently launched in Canberra.

 

The Gods – Victor Daley – Analysis

The Gods

Last night, as one who hears a tragic jest,
I woke from dreams, half-laughing, half in tears;
Methought that I had journeyed in the spheres
And stood upon the Planet of the Blest
And found thereon a folk who prayed with zest
Exceeding, and through all their painful years
Like strong souls struggled on ‘mid hopes and fears;
“Where dwell the gods,” they said, “we shall find rest.”

The gods? What gods, I thought, are those who so
Inspire their worshippers with faith that flowers
Immortal? and who make them keep aglow
The flames forever on their altar-towers?
“Where dwell these gods of yours?” I asked–and lo!
They pointed upwards to this earth of ours!

Victor James Daley (1858 -1905)

This is a sonnet with rhyming scheme abba for the two quatrains with a clear turning point in the last six lines with rhyming scheme ababab.

How do ‘The Gods’ inspire faith immortal in their worshippers? The question asked in the last two lines is where these gods dwell and the last line gives that unexpected twist?

The ‘Gods on Earth’ inspire the worshippers – the Church or Churches implied. Well, the home of ‘The Gods’ is reversed and brought to ground in contrary to the opening lines which suggest the worshippers inhabit the heavens – the Planet of the blest.

I like a poem that makes you think in a different direction. How much is faith kept alive by fellow faith-holders on Earth rather than from above the skies? And for what purpose – I could be synical, there could be self-preservation involved. Consider the first line as one who hears a tragic jest.

Victor Daley was an Australian poet. His contemporaries were the bush ballad poets Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson.

Victor Daley on Wikipedia

Stillborn – Sylvia Plath – Analysis

Stillborn

These poems do not live: it’s a sad diagnosis.
They grew their toes and fingers well enough,
Their little foreheads bulged with concentration.
If they missed out on walking about like people
It wasn’t for any lack of mother-love.

O I cannot understand what happened to them!
They are proper in shape and number and every part.
They sit so nicely in the pickling fluid!
They smile and smile and smile at me.
And still the lungs won’t fill and the heart won’t start.

They are not pigs, they are not even fish,
Though they have a piggy and a fishy air –
It would be better if they were alive, and that’s what they were.
But they are not dead, and their mother near dead with distraction,
And they stupidly stare, and do not speak of her.

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

This is an appropriate poem on her birthday seeing most remember her death day more than her birthday; and nice to be on the brighter side of life.

This is a poem all about the creation process, the giving of birth to a poem. For SP her poems were always her special babies. This is in contrast to Ted Hughes who regarded his poems as animals.

A poem has to live and the irony is that this is a poem that actually lives. We must assume she is talking about all her other poems, all those poems that never quite made it to her own requirement. Interestingly, at least according to TH, she never threw anything away so she would have had a workshop of pickled poems so in that sense they are not dead. They are still alive within the poet even if not breathing.

She does state there was a birth but perhaps it only lived in her mind. The thing is, it is all to do with the transfer of mind thought to actual physical words. Quite often the poet has a marvellous Aha at night but when recalled in the hard light of day finds it is not quite right and it goes in the waste paper bin.

Poems always say something about the poet, just as a child carries DNA from parents. The strong link between mother and baby or poet and poem is emphasised by the repetition of ‘smile’ in the line ‘they smile and smile and smile at me’. This may indicate that the poem is near completion. And the last line is quite appropriate as SP is left frustrated and unsung – they do not speak. A strong sense of wanting to achieve and be recognised as a poet and be heard.

So what makes a good birth … maybe assistance is needed … a midwife perhaps … or a nurse to bring the baby to the breathing state. It is important to share poetry before finalisation, but to what extent and who to share with?

Anyway SP babies live on in abundance breathing their existence, even if some have a depressive tint.

To end on a bright note here is a link to her poem ‘Morning Song, the first poem of her Ariel collection – a different birth!

In Passing – Stanley Plumly – Analysis

In Passing

On the Canadian side, we’re standing far enough away
the Falls look like photography, the roar a radio.

In the real rain, so vertical it fuses with the air,
the boat below us is starting for the caves.

Everyone on deck is dressed in black, braced for weather
and crossing against the current of the river.

They seem lost in the gorge dimensions of the place,
then, in fog, in a moment, gone.

In the Chekhov story,
the lovers live in a cloud, above the sheer witness of a valley.

They call it circumstance. They look up at the open wing
of the sky, or they look down into the future.

Death is a power like any other pull of the earth.
The people in the raingear with the cameras want to see it

from the inside, from behind, from the dark looking into the light.
They want to take its picture, give it size—

how much easier to get lost in the gradations of a large
and yellow leaf drifting its good-bye down one side of the gorge.

There is almost nothing that does not signal loneliness,
then loveliness, then something connecting all we will become.

All around us the luminous passage of the air,
the flat, wet gold of the leaves. I will never love you

more than at this moment, here in October,
the new rain rising slowly from the river.

Stanley Plumly (1939 – 2019)

Stanley Plumly was an American academic who taught creative writing and died at the age of 79 in April this year. John Keats was his spiritual guide in writing poetry. Also he is a poet who wrote about polio which affected his classmates when he was growing up.

The above poem appears to be from a visit to Niagara Falls and viewing the water from a distance on the Canadian side. There are two aspects of this passing encounter which feature in his words. A boat below the Falls which is crossing the fast flowing water, and a leaf drifting down one side of the gorge.

The boat appears a speck in the gorge and it disappears in fog. He is reminded of lovers on a cloud above a valley in a Chekov story. The lovers in this story can look up and be taken away in the open wing of the sky or can look down into their future, perhaps coming down to earth. The downside appropriate to Chekov.

This brings his thought to death as gravity. The people in the boat want to approach the Falls for photographs from many directions, but in doing so they tempt death by the swamping of the boat from the power of gravity in bringing the water over the falls.

But Stanley Plumly now turns attention to his second subject that of the leaf and the natural death of the leaf as it falls. It is much easier for him to get lost in this subject. At first this leaf is lonely by itself as it descends, then watching it further loveliness unfolds. It is representative or connects to what we will become. Death being natural.

He becomes absorbed by the beauty of wet gold leaves and the luminous passage of air penetrating the spray. And this moment becomes a love highpoint. I will never love you more. It is left to the reader to define the you whether nature, life or a person.

In summary, this is a poem about an intense emotional experience generated when visiting Niagara Falls; those moments in life that are held precious to the memory. However, like coming down out of the clouds of love they fall away in passing.

A link to some obituary detail on Stanley Plumly.

And Stanley Plumly on Wikipedia.

 

Leisure – William Henry Davies – Analysis

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871 – 1940)

This fourteen line poem can be regarded as a sonnet comprising of seven rhyming couplets. It is a simple poem to memorise and people of a certain vintage may have come across this poem in their school days.

This is a poem about time and the use of time that use being defined as ‘Leisure’. Leisure implies taking time out from being busy. The iambic rhythm has been likened to a heartbeat and heartbeats are a measure of time. Also the repetition of the two syllables ‘no time’ in each line reinforces the passage of time.

The first couplet has become memorable to the extent that William Henry Davies is mainly known for this one poem. Each of these lines comprise of eight single syllable words (iambic tetrameter). Single syllable words have more strength in immediate mind absorption because they stand alone and start and finish quickly. This couplet poses the question on the use of time. What is life if we don’t stand and stare? And full of care has implications of self-absorption encouraging us to look outside ourselves.

The next three couplets tell us to appreciate nature advocating that the way to do this is to take time out from what we are usually doing and be still and thus recognise the beauty that abounds in the natural environment. It is more relevant to those that live in rural settings with an obvious English setting as there are no squirrels in Australia.

Unfortunately for me stare has connotations of something not to do so although I fully understand the implications of the use of this word in the context of stopping for a moment to absorb and be aware of surroundings. But I can’t avoid the childhood admonition in respect of people. In the fifth and sixth couplets we are encouraged to appreciate the beauty in another person and maybe the use of glance in these lines encourages some discretion in how this is done to gain appreciation.

The last couplet answers the question posed in the opening lines. Life is diminished if we don’t take time out, or is it putting time in, to appreciate our surrounds and to stop and just absorb.

William Henry Davies on Wikipedia

A Hymn to God The Father – John Donne – Comments

A Hymn to God The Father.

Wilt thou forgive that sinn, which I begunn,
Which is my sinn, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive those sins through which I runn
And doe run still, though still I doe deplore?
When thou has done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sinn, by which I’have wonne
Others to sinn, and made my sinn their dore?
Wilt thou forgive that sinn which I did shunne
A year or twoe, but wallowed in a score?
When thou has done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.

I have a sinn of feare that when I have spun
My last thred, I shall perish on the shore;
Sweare by thy self that at my Death, thy Sonne
Shall shine as he shines nowe, & heretofore;
And having done that, thou hast done,
I feare noe more.

John Donne (1572 – 1631)

Sin = in the traditional religious context the transgression against God, (perhaps all about not being ‘good’ and failing within oneself and in our relationships with others)

The first stanza is all about sin and the fact that sin pervades all of humanity and John Donne asks for forgiveness from God for his sin and the sin of humanity which cannot be avoided and of which he is part.

The second stanza then asks for forgiveness where John Donne has led others to sin. He refers to many years when he was young and outside Church life – wallowed in a score. But God does not have Donne yet for there is more, play on his surname.

In the last stanza he mentions a fear that he has at his Death. However, if Jesus still shines forgiveness as he has done in life then John Donne fears no more. If that is done then God has Donne, again a play on his name.

This poem is all about forgiving oneself as well as accepting forgiveness from God. Some find this very hard to do when something they have done is deeply regretted.

John Donne on Wikipedia

 

Spring Sonnet – Vivaldi (The Four Seasons)

Below are the words behind ‘Spring’ the first of Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ where each ‘Season’ consists of a three-movement concerto. The words form a sonnet and Vivaldi created a sonnet for each season prior to musical composition.

La Primavera (Spring)
Opus 8, No. 1, in E Major

I. Allegro

Festive Spring has arrived,
The birds salute it with their happy song.
And the brooks, caressed by little Zephyrs,
Flow with a sweet murmur.
The sky is covered with a black mantle,
And thunder, and lightning, announce a storm.
When they are silent, the birds
Return to sing their lovely song.

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre

And in the meadow, rich with flowers,
To the sweet murmur of leaves and plants,
The goatherd sleeps, with his faithful dog at his side.

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro
To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes,
Dance nymphs and shepherds,
At Spring’s brilliant appearance.

The words are a prose translation from the Italian and were obtained from this Website

I. Allegro— to play fast, quickly and bright … Zephyr = a soft gentle breeze … the underlying theme is ‘bird song’ before and after a spring storm

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre— slow, to be played softly and sustained throughout … the sleeping goatherd and the murmur of nature marry nicely

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro—ending in fast, bright dance of nature … with visions of nymphs( = the spirit of nature as a young maiden) and shepherds in festive mood

We rarely read the words before listening to the music. I think they are well reflected in the musical composition. Below are Youtube links to each of the above components for comparison.

I. Allegro
II. Largo e pianissimo sempre
III. Danza pastorale

The World Is Too Much with Us – Wordsworth – Comments

The World Is Too Much with Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1860)

The rhyme scheme of this Italian sonnet is ‘abba abba cdcd cd’.

The first eight lines decry the state of a materialistic world, a world out of tune with nature. And ‘we’ have given our hearts away – focused on getting and spending. Industrialisation was taking place at the time of Wordsworth. And then that wonderful oxymoron – a sordid boon! And equally today we may well wonder whether economic development is a sordid boon, it being out of balance with the on-going degradation of the environment. The benefit of economic development is being lost by those suffering the devastation associated with climate change.

In the last six lines …

Proteus = an early prophetic sea-god or god of rivers and oceanic bodies of water, one of several deities whom Homer calls the “Old Man of the Sea” and capable of changing into many shapes. And Triton = In English literature, Triton is portrayed as the messenger or herald for the god Poseidon.

The retort from Wordsworth is that he would rather be suckled (nurtured) by a bygone creed which worshiped nature (nature-mythological-Gods). And not sucked in by industrialisation, and for Wordsworth nature was his romantic ‘God’.

Wordsworth on Wikipedia