Seed – Paula Meehan – Analysis

Seed

The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop
each like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter’s ended

Paula Meehan (1955 –

To be revitalised from depression … from a house of gloom … from winter … from seeing the garden destroyed after a storm … and then to see something precious, not destroyed and to give thanks … all is not lost … to bless the power of ‘seed’ … the power of life continuing … the conspiracy of the sun with the underground … growth from depression is like that in nature … sun and underground – very appropiate words

Religious connotations, remember the mustard seed … something so small has a big outcome and getting out of depression is big! … thank you …

A seemingly insignificant event or observation takes on mammoth proportions as a catalyst to new life releasing PM from a deep depression. I think this is true for many who suffer from depression. I can relate to this from my own personal experience. Whether providence plays a part is another matter. In this poem PM gives thanks to the persistent power of seed and nature (and her stars – so perhaps she has friends on high).

It reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’. … where a Black Rook takes on similar proportions

Paula Meehan is a well respected Irish poet and playwright …   Paula Meehan on Wikipedia

Lupin

… a lupin in full bloom.

The Garden of Love – William Blake – Analysis

The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not, writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)

A poem of innocence to experience … youth, represented by playwhere I used to play on the green … to age and church restriction … the freedom of love desecrated as flowers became tombstones.

The gates to the ‘Chapel’ shut … (the term chapel usually refers to a place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution) … the original ‘Chapel’ was a much different ‘Chapel’ that of the glorious flower of innocent love as a child.

The ABCB rhyme scheme is broken in the last stanza … perhaps in line with the break of innocence. Note also that green in the first stanza has been replaced by black.

The duality of Blake is clearly expressed by his distaste of the restrictions of religion in suffocating the natural expression of human desire.

In Australia in 2017, over 200 years since the birth of Blake, we have approval of same sex marriage (marriage-equality). Enjoy the freedom of love this Valentines Day.

… William Blake on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Lovesick – Carol Ann Duffy – Analysis

Lovesick

I found an apple
A red and shining apple
I took its photograph

I hid the apple in the attic
I opened the skylight
and the sun said Ah!

At night I checked that it was safe,
under the giggling stars,
and the sly moon. My cool apple.

Whatever you are calling about,
I am not interested.
Go away. You with the big teeth.

Carol Ann Duffy

Well, I am sure you have been in love and perhaps you can remember that first time. Can you remember that new found feeling – a red shining apple and how it affected your demeanour. Maybe it was something so personal you wanted to keep forever (by taking a ‘photograph’ if you could photograph a feeling). And being a little shy you probably wanted to keep this lovesickness hidden. You had to open up to your surroundings with this joy. The sun of course new and said Ah. And at night time you could bathe in this sickness with delight – such a delight to be in love! – so cool under the giggling stars. A female perspective of the situation is evident. But let’s face it friends and family might just happen to see any change exhibited from your new found happiness state!

But this love sickness, this little euphoria, is very vulnerable. The actual presence and development of a new relationship will destroy or should I say cure any mental heaven – especially if your lover has big teeth.

No other fruit but an apple!

If we consider Estella and Pip from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations then Pip had a very red apple. And even on continual meetings when Estella snubbed his advances he was not perturbed and was quick to convert a greening apple back to red as soon as he was away from her presence. Love can be so mental, so individual.

This is a totally brilliant poem from Dame Carol Ann Duffy who was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009. Here is a Wikipedia link … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Ann_Duffy

 

The Fly – William Blake – Analysis

The Fly

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)

A five-stanza poem with a dancing careless rhythm that fits well with the ending in the last lines, the first four stanzas are ‘abcb’ and the final stanza ‘aabb’. The short lines reflect the nature of passing life and the poem itself perhaps produced from a passing thought when disturbed by an annoying fly.

The subject is life, nature, existence and death with a comparison between the fly and man. Blake controls the life of a fly that came to close just as fate, God or luck could equally determine the fate of Blake.

The poem concerns thought and action. Thoughtless action can cause death. Will some blind hand deal with Blake in the same way that Blake deals with the fly?

Thought always motivates action no matter how fleeting a thoughtless response. Thought dominates life. If life is totally in the mind then it is a happy life free from worry when the mind is so developed.

William Blake on Wikipedia

The Red Cockatoo – Po Chu-I – Comments

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam –
A red cockatoo,
Coloured like the peach-tree blossom,
Speaking with the speech of men.
And they did with it what is always done
To the learned and the eloquent:
They took a cage with stout bars
And shut it up inside.

Po Chu-I (772 -846)
Translated by Arthur Waley

Annam – the southernmost province of China

This eight line Chinese poem is divided into two distinct components each of four lines. I would prefer to see a blank line between the change to give sufficient pause. A distinct image is taken and presented to the reader. A present from a foreign land, a spectacular bird visually and red being so appropriate to the theme of the poem. And a bird that relates to mankind – speaking with the speech of men –this line is the link to second part.

The outcome of the gift is stated – what happens to the bird, what happens to the words of the learned and the eloquent. Mankind suppresses and the gift is caged and is not appreciated and freedom lost. This simple poem makes a powerful statement so often defining the unfortunate plight of mankind but hopefully not what is always done. I am reminded on what happened to Nelson Mandela.

Some information on Po Chu-I – apparently he tested the accessibility of his work by ensuring it was understood when presented to an old country woman … see the following … http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/people_n2/persons4_n2/po.html

and another Blog Site on this poem …
http://margaret-cooter.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/poetry-thursday-red-cockatoo-by-po-chu-i.html

The Express – Stephen Spender – Commentary

The Express

After the first powerful, plain manifesto
The black statement of pistons, without more fuss
But gliding like a queen, she leaves the station.
Without bowing and with restrained unconcern
She passes the houses which humbly crowd outside,
The gasworks, and at last the heavy page
Of death, printed by gravestones in the cemetery.
Beyond the town, there lies the open country
Where, gathering speed, she acquires mystery,
The luminous self-possession of ships on ocean.

It is now she begins to sing — at first quite low
Then loud, and at last with a jazzy madness —
The song of her whistle screaming at curves,
Of deafening tunnels, brakes, innumerable bolts.
And always light, aerial, underneath,

Retreats the elate metre of her wheels.
Streaming through metal landscapes on her lines,
She plunges new eras of white happiness,
Where speed throws up strange shapes, broad curves
And parallels clean like trajectories from guns.

At last, further than Edinburgh or Rome,
Beyond the crest of the world, she reaches night
Where only a low stream-line brightness
Of phosphorus on the tossing hills is light.
Ah, like a comet through flame, she moves entranced,

Wrapt in her music no bird song, no, nor bough
Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal.

Stephen Spender (1909 – 1995)

S1 … manifesto – a declaration, a platform – fitting for this poem
She is a queen gliding slowly as movement starts without fuss or ceremony she leaves the station … as passengers we all know that sensation as the train starts to move … passing the gasworks reminds me of taking the train from Waterloo to the country, there was always that prominent feature … the heavy page of death printed by gravestones … another memory of the journey and death seen as a heavy page is so appropriate as a metaphor considering the gravestone inscriptions … and beyond the town there is the mystery of the beyond, especially relevant for those taking the journey for the first time … she is now a ship on the ocean of discovery as she gathers speed and she starts to know herself (self-possession … a growing in confidence)

Do you think the change of metaphor adds or detracts?

S2 … fewer lines, S1 was the slow start needing more lines … she is now a jazzy singer as she speeds along carefree with all the noises of her motion as she negotiates curves and tunnels and applies her whistle … (tis but the freedom of unrestrained youth)

S3 … she knows her way … where she is going is pre-determined (but perhaps not so for all of us who journey without such direction) … and she is happy as she plunges new areas of white happiness … and she moves like being fired from a gun … (well I guess we are all happy when fully focused and speeding along towards our goals)

S4 … this Express train is going some distance! … and as night comes you can see her disappearing in the fading light like a comet through the hills and emotionally entranced (an interesting state of mind for the ending of her journey … she knows where she is going in the dark … beyond the crest of the world)

S5 … and again ending in song … a song that is totally hers – beyond nature her creation and she appears to be in some state of ecstasy … (well what a way to end in such happiness as her journey perhaps continues to unknown places)

The glorification of the peronified train as it makes its journey … a symbol of modern travel and industrial achievement and perhaps that of life too from a slow beginning to a happy end … if you stay on the tracks of course!

Here is a link to Stephen Spender on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Spender

 

Portrait of a Machine : Louis Untermeyer

Portrait of a Machine

What nudity as beautiful as this
Obedient monster purring at its toil;
These naked iron muscles dripping oil
And the sure-fingered rods that never miss.
This long and shining flank of metal is
Magic that greasy labour cannot spoil;
While this vast engine that could rend the soil
Conceals its fury with a gentle hiss.
It does not vent its loathing, it does not turn
Upon its makers with destroying hate.
It bears a deeper malice; lives to earn
It’s masters bread and laughs to see this great
Lord of the earth, who rules but cannot learn,
Become the slave of what his slaves create.

Louis Untermeyer

A sonnet … abba / abba /ababab … the machine is personified … two important attributes compared – beauty and power

The first eight lines show the machine as an untiring body with the beauty of its created components compared to muscles, fingers, and flank. The purring voice never faltering. The power of the machine far out weighing the physical capability of the mere creator.

The last six lines then reflect the non-emotional characteristic of the inanimate object but there is a subtle twist for the machine may have the last laugh – the question on the effect it has on its creator … does the creator become a slave to his or her creation?

I remember years ago visiting the Rowntrees Chocolate factory in York and watching girls taking deformed smartees from the production line. I guess that nowadays this would be an automated process.

From Wikipedia … Louis Untermeyer (October 1, 1885 – December 18, 1977) was an American poet, anthologist, critic,[and editor. He was appointed the fourteenth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1961.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Untermeyer

… and perhaps an appropriate time for a New Year’s resolution … for the Internet may well laugh at us if we spend all our time absorbed in this activity … well, time for a cup of tea …

 

Digging – Seamous Heaney – Analysis

Digging

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun,

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.

Seamous Heaney

S1 and S2 …His father was skilled at the use of the spade in the garden. SH compares his poetic skill in contrast … and he fires away in the opening lines – snug as a gun. At the same time he can watch the work of his Father from the window. He incorporates this distraction into words … it is as though Father and Son are working together each dedicated and focused.

S3 and S4 … However, when his straining rump comes up twenty years away there is indication that this is a reflection … so the words may not be coming directly from his seated position looking out the window as his Dad works but from memory. And the picking of the potatoes – to scatter new potatoes that we picked … perhaps he is recalling when as a child he helped in the garden. (The lug is the shoulder of a spade)

What is clear is the digging skill of his Father and Grand-father. And emphasied by the two lines and exclamation in stanza five.

S6 and S7… And in comparison with others his Dad was quite a champion at digging and when interrupted and given a drink he is quick to take up work again … a momentary break – as indicated by the break between stanzas six and seven. Repetion gives emphasis to his focus on digging.

S8 … The next stanza gives sensual feeling to this family digging work, both smell and sound. Digging goes deep into family history connecting the two with his words – the curt cuts of an edge through living roots. But this type of work is not for SH.

S9 … A repeat of words from S1 – the squat pen rests. Squat gives weight to his implement to contrast with the spade where the foot is replaced by the finger.  Seamous Heaney was as dedicated to poetry as his past family were to digging. Poetry was a new branch to the family tree. And of course he truly becme a well-respected champion at his art.

In this poem SH states his calling and gives emphasis that he is taking a different path from previous generations, and perhaps the expectation of family. He solidly makes known his calling with this wonderful example of his poetic skill.

It is great if a person knows what they should be doing in life and follows it even though it might be very different and against tradition and against family opposition.