Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Emotional Connection

(Please refer to the 10/8 post to read the poem).

It is not enough for me that poetry be an intellectual pursuit. I love to engage in intellectual analysis of poetry, but I must have an emotional connection to it to feel its significance in my life. For me, the reason to study poetry or any literature is to feel an emotional connection and to be altered by it.

I am back to the first stanza, and today the critical voice of "she" is bothering me. Why is "she" so lacking in compassion for the speaker? Then, the very obvious suddenly struck me: perhaps "she" refers to the anxiety itself. It is the anxiety yelling at the speaker: "In all time / was never such lurching, such rubbing of the chin." Sounds like the anxious voice inside the speaker's head, saying why he or she should never have left land. The sea is just as bad with its "lurching" and the worry it causes, the speaker's "rubbing of the chin."

This kind of critical voice gets to me, and I'm surprised it didn't bother me sooner. Maybe it's because I was working on the memoir today, reliving some of the intensely critical voices of my childhood, and I am feeling sensitive to it. At any rate, I have no patience for this compassionless voice. I want to tell the speaker, "Go ahead, travel! Ignore that "she" behind the curtain! The sea is a wonderful place!"

The third stanza feels so self-conscious and sad to me, it is difficult to write a about. The speaker is stared at by even the flowers, feeling forced into a "contrained idea" of him- or herself. It speaks to me of a relentless sort of introspection, or self-analysis, the kind of thing we do when we are trying to figure out why we have a particular fear or, shall I say, anxiety. Why is the speaker forced into this view? Perhaps the "crinkled stars" represent some part of the speaker, some kind of self-looking, that cannot be escaped. Perhaps the meadow as a whole represents the speaker's internal life, and "unsteady," anxious, insecure place where the speaker does not know what is safe to "grab." His or her self is shaky in its anxiety, and there seems to be no way, at least now, to ground it.

And the line "I must go out with the light, and someday / someone will see through and love me." So sad! Sounds like a desperate hope of the speaker's that after the end of something, after the "light" goes down, after death, maybe? someone will see and recognize the real self behind the anxiety and love him/her. As if the anxious, insecure self is not worth loving. Sad! I want to comfort this speaker. You deserve love!

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