Only the Tip of the Iceberg

Despite my last post being poetry-related and that I’m more of a classic fic girl, this post will also be about poetry. I’m struggling with poetry, but I think that’s the point. I was talking about poetry earlier today and some of the words that I uttered were oddly well-stated (unlike the majority of what I say) basically what I said is that poetry can be read in the same time it takes to read a 500-page novel or in no time at all. That sums up my poetry struggle. How many times can I read a poem without it being labeled excessive? How many times should it take to find its true meaning? Am I slow or is poetry meant to be languidly and lovingly savored…I’ll get back to you on that one. See the thing is with starting something new is that you don’t have any ingrained preferences. I don’t know what I like but I’ve had a little guidance thus far that has allowed me to slowly discover what poetry suits me.

I can feel myself slowly slipping into the sea of poetry; The Endless Unbegun was only a sort of bridge into the full-fledged, poetry-only books. I’ve also been really enjoying the Tagore, much to my surprise; I never thought I’d be into his sort of stuff. But, god, is it beautiful. I think what makes the dated language manageable is that his syntax isn’t overly complex. Also, a big deal breaker for me is when a poem is too long–my definition of “too long” varies from poem to poem–and don’t even get me started on poems that rhyme. I haven’t really nailed down this whole writing about poetry thing but I’m learning. There’s something to be said about that. In this post, I’ve decided to attack two poems one old and one new (one red and one blue?).

This first poem is “Home Burial” by Robert Frost. I first discovered it last year in my English class, but I don’t recall being terribly taken back by it. In the last few days, I rediscovered it, upon searching through my old essays, and it’s firmly set in my mind. Today I’ve read it maybe three times and I have gathered something new from it each read. The poem zeros in on a relationship between a man and his wife. They are both grieving the loss of their child but in very different ways. It opens with the woman “looking back over her shoulder at some fear.” She’s stuck in the past before the trouble began. She is also trying to hide, to make herself smaller, to do anything to escape her husband. Frost describes, “Advancing toward her: “What is it you see/From up there always–for I want to know.” In response, she makes herself smaller “and sank upon her skirts.”

Throughout the poem, the husband is both physically and verbally overbearing. This is even felt in the beginning of the poem, it begins: “He saw her from the bottom of the stairs/Before she saw him.” Then, as their conversation progresses, he gets increasingly more and more domineering, him, “mounting until she cowered under him.” It’s clear to me that there’s a rift in their relationship and he feels a need to overpower her–or, at the very least, control her.

There’s a disconnect. In her grief, she cowers; she doesn’t expect him to understand her whereas, in his grief, he ignores the issue at hand. He ignores her. He asks her, “What is it you see.” She doesn’t reply to him but he persists saying, “I will find out now—you must tell me, dear.” The language that Frost uses is pretty intimidating.

Okay so after six-hundred words, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve bitten off just a bit more than I can chew. I confess I’m giving myself too much credit; actually following the last bell of the day, I rushed over to my English classroom to search out the man with all the answers–okay maybe not all the answers but most of them. I explained that this post wasn’t going to just consist of the “Home Burial” but also my breakdown of my favorite from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali (it’s number 9 if you wanna take a gander) and how I was struggling with it. He told me that it would take me thousands of words to accomplish my analysis of just Frost’s poem and I dejectedly agreed; Being a couple hundred words in, I realized that I had only seen the tip of the iceberg. I love his poem a lot so it pains me to give up so early in the game, but I also want to do it justice. I will accomplish it….just not today. I decided to post this post incomplete and generally unedited because I figure it’s good for me; vulnerability is important. Like I said, poetry is meant to be languidly and lovingly savored so I’m compelled to give it the time and space it deserves.


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