And The Moon And The Stars And The World, Charles Bukowski – an analysis

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Title
Sounds deliciously whimsical, doesn’t it?

Gut Reaction
Oh! Not so whimsical after all, pretty much true to life, right?

What does it all mean?
Long walks at night–
that’s what good for the soul:
Agreed: I’m a great fan of walking at any time, but there’s something about the stillness of night that’s sort of magical.

peeking into windows
Hey now, there’s no need to be nosey – even if our eyes do automatically drift in to the lights of un-curtained windows.

watching tired housewives
**stalker alert**

trying to fight off
their beer-maddened husbands.
Hmm. Are they fighting off their amorous intentions or their flying fists?

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
No division! Yay!

Tone
Hmm. Most definitely not whimsical, sort of… resigned, to the fact that this is the way life is.

Suggested rhyme scheme
Free verse. Woo!

Similes and metaphors
Is this whole poem a metaphor for the freedom we feel observing other people and their less-than-perfect lives? That a ha! My life’s just as crappy as yours, or that feeling that we’ve often just observers?

Author’s relationship with their subject
I get the feeling that it’s like viewing an affectionate pet, separating the author entirely from the subject as though they are merely observing the ‘human condition’.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
There’s the same observation that the title doesn’t quite fit the subject of the poem. Apparently there are undertones of the poem being influenced by William Carlos William. Most analyses point to this poem being much shorter than Bukowski’s other work, but just as full of his usual style of grim reality and observation. And there is the mention of beer; a staple of Bukowski’s work – he is (affectionately) referred to as the drunken bard of low-life, after all.

Signing off
I like it. It’s short, sharp, to the point, a pause in time that shows what all of us do, accidentally or intentionally. We observe other people and their lives, see where their experiences fit ours, which ones we like to relate to and those we distance ourselves from. It’s a snapshot of every day life and every day humanity.

Links

Wikipedia

Bukowski.net

When I read this I think of the song… No one says real life grit like The Pogues

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The Work, Allen Grossman, an analysis

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Title
…. what kind of work?

Gut Reaction
Slightly confused if this is a love poem or a call to arm to procreate. Or something else…

What does it all mean?
A great light is the man who knows the woman he loves
A great light is the woman who knows the man she loves
A great light? As in, an inspiration to others? Or full of such happiness that they can’t help but light up the lives of those around them?

And carries the light into room after room arousing
The sleepers and looking hard into the face of each
And then sends them asleep again with a kiss
Ah. Those that are loved up do tend to wander through life in that kind of glow that either makes those envious of love growl bitterly that honestly, no, that’s not what they want in their own lives right now. Or, they remind others of what real love really is. Or inspire people to fall in love. Or, you know. Those kind of couples that decide because they are deliriously happy that they must set up every single one of their own friends so that they can experience such, um. Bliss. yes. Then get so lost in each other that they drift in and out of conversations unaware of what is going on around them.

Or a whole night of love
… stamina?

and goes on and on until
… yep. Definitely stamina…

The man and woman who carry the great lights of the
Knowledge of the one lover enter the room
toward which
Their light is sent and fit the one and the other torch
In a high candelabrum and there is such light
So… those that are lucky enough to experience love can… pass on some kind of wisdom? Know where each other are at all times? Their love inspires others because of its brightness? That their love is something to aspire to? I’m… getting myself a bit lost I think…

That children leap up
unless the sea swallow them
So… they’re a fertile couple then. Able to keep on reproducing unless there’s some accident at sea? What else could sea be here? Some other big event that could deprive us of our offspring?

In the crossing or hatred or war against which do not
Ah, yes. If hatred or war takes them away.

Pray only but be vigilant and set your hand to the work.
Set your hand to the work. Spreading the word of love? Spreading… is love in this instance religion, in which case we’re spreading the Good Word and… being vigilant against things that would counter it? I’m… very lost indeed.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
One long stanza.

Tone
Hopeful? Optimistic?

Suggested rhyme scheme
Aside from the first two lines, free verse. Woo!

Similes and metaphors
Sorry, I’m still lost, perhaps in the signing off…

Author’s relationship with their subject
They seem to hold these fictional characters in high esteem, don’t they?

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
The Allen Grossman website talks about the ability of humanity to evoke change through love

Signing off
What actually drew me to this poem, and forgive my earlier… cynicism? Confusion? Refusal to play nicely? Is the idea that love can change the world. And I don’t mean, necessarily, the love between two (or more if you’re poly-amorous) consenting people. I mean, if we were to spend time actually giving a damn about each other – loving, if you will – then perhaps we wouldn’t be constantly fighting against each other over the things we all, as human beings need. Oil, water, land, cake (… might just be me…)

What really inspires me are those rare people in life that are the embodiment of ‘light’ this poem seems to talk about. No matter what they’ve been through, what hardships they’ve faced – whatever has happened. They are all about helping others, doing their very best to be altruistic (although if you listen to Darwin et. al. true altruism is impossible for evolving species… geek in… geek out…). They care about others, they’re way beyond perfect – but what is perfect about them is that they’re willing to show they’re imperfect – to show that even those doing their very best still make mistakes.

There’s a few organisations out there, and individuals, that are such ‘lights’, and if I ever stop dithering and start living, I would very much like to be that kind of person to affect change just by kindness – love – for other people.

Links

Wikipedia

Poetry Foundation

When I read this I think of the song… had to do it… All you need is love

Sea Fever, John Masefield – an analysis

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Title
Are we talking… enchantment by mer-people, scurvy, or seasickness? Or gold old wanderlust?

Gut Reaction
… is that you, Jack Sparrow?

What does it all mean?
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
Perhaps I’m totally wrong here, but this doesn’t seem to have any hidden meanings; it feels very much like a love letter to the sea – or at least, a life at sea. Can we assume that this person is a sailor then?

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
Perhaps our author is a sea person, or has been for much of their life, and they’re finding themselves trapped as a land-dweller, and are longing for home. The wild call is that urge that those of us who need to be elsewhere get, when we’re stuck somewhere we don’t really want to be, or feel our time has been spent there.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
This person wants a simple, carefree life, and the vagrant gypsy life comment resonates with me like a drum telling me to run! I love it!
All this author wants is to end their days at sea, hearing good stories from other sailors, and that their end is easy.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Three quatrains of wistful dreaming of the sea.

Tone
Wistful, longing to be moving on.

Suggested rhyme scheme
aabb
ccbb
ddee

Similes and metaphors
I choose to think the longing for the sea is a metaphor for all of us who like to travel.

Author’s relationship with their subject
Very much in love with the sea, or the ‘vagrant gypsy life’.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
From other analyses it looks like everyone’s on board with the idea of this being an ode to the sea.

Signing off
This is cleverly woven with iambic pentameter and an overall meter that lilts and leans so that you can almost ‘hear’ the sea. It makes the reader – me – stir for travel, all the senses are hit with the imagery conjured here, and if I wasn’t already climbing the walls ready for escape, I am now.

For those who don’t have the wanderbug, or don’t understand how us wanderers can enjoy the uncertainty that comes with wandering free and not having a base, I suppose it’s hard to explain – but then, we too are mystified by the love of sofas, mortgages and fitting in with the neighbours. It’s a strange world.

This poem conjures that wanderbug so well, it’s so vivid and you can (I can) feel that surge that comes with the ‘call’ to be off. I choose to think of this poem, then, as the call to ‘arms’ to travel 🙂

Links

Wikipedia

Poetry Foundation

When I read this I think of the song… A pirate’s life for me 😉

The Donkey, G K Chesterton – an analysis

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Title
Eeyore!

Gut Reaction
I am flummoxed…

What does it all mean?
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
Figs on thorns are mentioned in the bible in both Matthew 7:16 and Luke 6:44, and this seems to be saying that you can’t get one thing from something entirely different – you can’t pick figs from thorn bushes – so are we referring to a time of plenty? It would seem so, wouldn’t it? Flying fish – do we mean the Exocoetidae? Or does this have biblical links too? And then there’s the Socratea exorrhiza, the so-called Walking Palm, or Cashapona tree – what are we trying to say here? Is the author trying to say they were born at a mystical time, or the time of their birth coincide with a rare event – like a blood moon? Curiouser and curiouser!

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
Alright, so maybe I’m reading far too much into it, and the author is putting himself in the shoes (horse?) of the poor, mis-aligned donkey, with what seems to be an oversized head, a cry that makes people scorn, ears that are far too big, and a gait that is, well, interesting? It feels like we are saying that the donkey is the animal made a mockery of most within the animal kingdom. How unfair, donkey’s are lovely! Clearly the author’s never been to a donkey rescue centre…

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
I want to find a donkey and give it a hug now; all of this sounds terrible, doesn’t it?! Donkeys are often ridiculed, thought of as stupid, dumb animals and treated as such. Left to carry heavier burdens than they can manage; how often do we use the expression ‘doing all the donkey work’ to show how these poor creatures are treated. But… but they DO have a secret, apparently… I’m intrigued…

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
I, the humble, noble donkey, have had my time, and will have my moment. It feels very much like the donkey is saying he knows he is special, and important – whether that has religious implications and he’s saying that because Jesus sees his importance, or whether it isn’t religious at all and the donkey has discovered his self-worth, well. I guess that’s the fun of poems and you can interpret it as you see fit.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Four stanzas of equal rhyme telling the story of the poor donkey.

Tone
It’s quietly victorious, isn’t it? It’s saying, I know you ridicule me, but I know who I am.

Suggested rhyme scheme
abcb
defe
ghih
jklk

Similes and metaphors
I am sure there are many but I’m a little overwhelmed by this one.

Author’s relationship with their subject
Is it religious? Pride? Support?

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
Most of the analyses I’ve seen about this points to the donkey recognising how it’s seen in the world but having inner strength because it knows that it is loved by Jesus no matter its so-called faults.

Signing off
It’s Easter, and I’m sure it’s somewhat blasphemous to consider a poem that’s so supposedly laced with religious overtones as anything but that.

But here’s my thoughts.

I love this donkey. I relate to this donkey in so many ways. I often feel as though I was born under a bad moon (thank you, CCR), or that there must be a bloody good reason why I am the way I am, why I never seem to ‘fit’ anywhere in this world, why I am a mockery. Then I tell myself that it’s the depression/anxiety/trilobites living in my head and whispering bad things to me, and that I’m not that bad. I’m no different from any other person out there. And just because I don’t fit the mould, just because others see me in a certain light, I am still worthy I am still strong. I know I’m good enough and don’t need anyone else to tell me that – or try to convince me otherwise, thank you very much.

In which, I am the donkey. And a very proud donkey indeed!.

Links
Wikipedia

Chesterton.org

When I read this I think of the song… Bad Moon Rising… I make no apologies

Leisure, William Henry Davies – an analysis

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Title
This word always makes me think of school swimming lessons…

Gut Reaction
Ooh I like it! What’s the point of living if you’re so busy to stop and appreciate all the good things around you?

What does it all mean?
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
If you work so hard, or are so busy filling life with things you ‘must’ do, that you don’t have time to just stop once in a while, and look, and drink it all in, take a pause. Then what is the point?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
I like to think of this as a nod to nature – if you don’t have time to appreciate nature then you’re living wrong.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
Still nodding at nature, woo! I’m all up for a walk in the woods, in fact I’d quite like to take a nap in one right now, bury my head in the leaves and confuse the squirrels. It’s almost as if we’re saying here, yes, we acknowledge that there’s woods there, lovely, yes, but we simply must keep going and do **insert menial task here under the bracket of must** – so we miss out on the details – in this case, the squirrels and their nut foraging

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
This author has spent some time meandering a stream or two, hasn’t he? He must have, to grasp so beautifully the way the water ripples and churns up light patches of light that twinkle and sparkle like the stars at night. I love it!

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
If you’re so busy, doing your stuff, then will you always miss out on meeting someone? Or worse still; will you be lucky enough to find them but be too busy to appreciate them?

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
This author’s clearly been studying the person he loves too, judging by this couplet. If you only have a moment to glance and see the smile on someone’s lips, perhaps you’ll miss all the nuances that led to it: what else are you missing out on?

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
A repeat of the first couplet and a very valid point indeed!

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Seven couplets citing examples of what we’re missing out on in life if we’re just too busy to appreciate it.

Tone
Whimsical but making a valid point.

Suggested rhyme scheme
aa
bb
cc
ddd
ee
ff
aa

Similes and metaphors
Beauty – love of your life?

Author’s relationship with their subject
He’s very fond of nature and all the good things about life; I’d say he’s in love with living and wonders why we’re not too.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
Only adding to the opinion that the author spent a lot of time in nature musing rhetorical questions such as this one.

Signing off
This is such a sweet little poem, isn’t it? It’s soft, full of love for life, so appreciative of what there is out there to see if only we give ourselves time to see it. Sometimes it really does feel that we’re so busy doing things so that we can live, that we miss the point of living at all. Perhaps we can’t all go around and spend our days idly staring into streams and up at clouds, but why don’t we give ourselves enough time in our schedules to do that from time to time? What’s the point of living will all we do is just exist?

Loved this poem a lot 🙂

Links
Wikipedia

Poem Hunter

When I read this I think of the song… If I didn’t put It’s a wonderful world here, it would be fairly criminal, wouldn’t it?

A Birthday, Christina Rossetti – an analysis

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Title
…will there be cake?

Gut Reaction
So… you’re in love then, huh?

What does it all mean?
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is singing? Or I suppose my heart is a thing of beauty that’s in a place where it has home and security (nest) and also all the nourishment it might need (watered shoot).

My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
So full of love is my heart that it is bent double – in the best possible way – by the amount of fruit that hangs from it. It is fertile and healthy and produces the biggest and best fruit imaginable. I guess she’s happy then, huh?

My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
Again… she’s in love, head over heels in love, this time the simile is that of a beautiful shell that’s idling in an idyllic sea.

My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
And after all these similes, she is happier than all of them, because she’s found love.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
A dais is a small platform, usually for someone important, used as a lecturn or throne, and the author wants hers made of silk and fine bird feathers.

Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
A type of fur that is set with patterns of heraldry – this time in purple.

Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
Doves are symbolic of peace, but also you have the doves as a symbol of love, and pomegranates of life, marriage and fertility. Sounds to me like someone’s planning a wedding. Also, this idea of pomegranates as a symbol of marriage etc, plus the dais; there’s a lot of ancient Greek symbolism here. I wonder if that’s intentional as in this is the theme the poem is set to, or that the author just really likes ancient Greece.

And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
The male peacock, if you like your sexual selection theory, is a thing of beauty to attract a mate. Has our author been ensnared by a peacocked dandy by any chance? But no! here’s some more ancient Greek mythology again: Argus Panoptes was a 100-eyed giant that was ‘all-seeing’; so perhaps our author is saying that she’s not going in blind, she’s still aware of everything, and she will see all or plans on seeing all?

Work it in gold and silver grapes,
Hmm. Sounds ornamental to me.

In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Fleurs-de-lys are stylised lillies and are known from the former royal arms of France; perhaps her love is from France? Looking at the repetition of silver in these two couplets, images of ‘idolatrous imagery’ were made of silver; is she putting her love on a pedestal? But again, looking at the bible there is mention of silver being of ornamental use; perhaps she just really likes silver or sees her relationship/future marriage as pious/godly.

Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Her life has now begun because she has met the love of my life. That, right there, makes my cynical little heart bleed, it really does.
Or perhaps it’s her love’s birthday. Either way. Bleugh.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Two stanzas of the sappiest, diabetes-inducing sweetness tooth-rot possible.

Tone
Loved up.

Suggested rhyme scheme
abcbdefe
ghihjklk

Similes and metaphors
Heart – like a singing bird… like an apple tree… like a rainbow shell…

Author’s relationship with their subject
I don’t think it needs to be said but, the author is quite… fond… of their subject.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
There is mention of the poet using anaphora to symbolise how she’s so loved up she can’t think straight to articulate how much she loves her… love. And she’s giddy with excitement because it’s their birthday. There is a heavy emphasis on the poem being drawn from Christianity, in particular the Old Testament. There is a sense that her love is someone important, someone almost royal in their importance.

Signing off
I can’t remember why I was drawn to this poem. I think I liked the use of imagery but now I’ve reread it, it’s the sappiest thing in the world, and I feel like I’ve eaten all the jelly beans in the world.

I can’t imagine loving someone that much that I’d get that excited about their birthday… I don’t even get that excited for my own birthday!

I think I’ve found myself on a very cynical day 🙂

Links

Wikipedia

Poetry Foundation

When I read this I think of the song… Hmm. Not quite. But any excuse for Etta James, right? At last

Parting, Emily Dickinson – an analysis

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Title
Do you mean like… to the side? Or strictly down the middle?

Gut Reaction
OH. No, that’s not what you meant AT ALL. It’s a little bit more in depth than that! Two Big Things have happened that have been all-encompassing and we’re expecting a third disaster? I like it already!

What does it all mean?
MY LIFE closed twice before its close;
Two devastating, or life-altering events have happened in my life that haven’t actually resorted in my death, even if they might have felt like it at the time.

It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
Hmm. It appears that the author is being a glass-half-empty-kinda-thinker, and I can understand that sometimes. It’s like she is saying, well, two bad things have happened and I can’t quite trust there not to be another awful event in my future. I like the ‘Immortality unveil’, written as though Immortality is a group rather than an entity. I don’t know why but I thought immediately of Greek gods when I saw this. A though it’s a range of maladies overseeing the author’s life, rather than one vengeful god.

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
These things that happened to me were so vast, so unbelievable to understand or accept that they would happened – and that TWO bad things of such magnitude should happen is still unbelievable.

Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
Wow. I love this final couplet. Honestly, this is beautiful. We hear that heaven’s a good place to be, right? But it always ends in us being parted from those that we love. And likewise, we hear such awful things about hell, but parting is a bad enough aspect of hell for us to experience, that we don’t need any more to make us feel we’re going through hell.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Two quatrains, there is no ‘order’ as such, just a sort of repeated stating of the author’s feelings.

Tone
It’s kind of… tense? Or… intense? Poised for More Drama.

Suggested rhyme scheme
abcb
defe

Similes and metaphors
Immortality – whatever not-so-benevolent force is looking down on the author? Or fate?
Parting – death, since that really is the final parting-provider, isn’t it?

Author’s relationship with their subject
They seem to approach fate as though it were a viper about to strike. Can’t say I blame them!

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
There’s a general consensus that death is the metaphor here, and that there were two catastrophic events that felt like a death during the life of the person speaking. I say that because there’s also a lot of speculation as to what those two life events might be if it is really biographical.

Also, other analyses point to the view of the final couplet as heaven for those that have passed but hell for those that have been left behind.

Signing off
This poem may be a short one but it is powerful, isn’t it? In eight lines, you sympathise, empathise, and mourn for the character and their loss – whatever their losses have been they have seemed like deaths. There’s a tinge of mistrust that the worst is behind them now, like they’re poised and ready for a third catastrophy, even if they’re probably not – wouldn’t you be close to breaking if you were in their shoes? I know I would.

The final couplet really is so very poignant in what it is saying. Because however you look at it, parting might be a relief or reprieve for the person going but the one that’s left behind is going to feel nothing but loss. And therefore, parting must be the worst part of reaching heaven, whilst parting is also so painful that it’s the only taste of hell we need to know that hell is real – whatever your idea of hell is.

Emily Dickinson’s work is the kind that creeps up on you unannounced; you think huh, that’s a good one, and then oh I really like that, and then you don’t read any for a while, then something like this one comes and slaps you around the face. Just… I am a renewed fangirl for Emily Dickinson!

Links

Wikipedia

Poets Org

When I read this I think of the song… Come Back, because there’s never going to need to be an excuse to listen to Pearl Jam but this one fits 🙂