Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Pact

We played dolls in that house where Father staggered with the
Thanksgiving knife, where Mother wept at noon into her one ounce of
cottage cheese, praying for the strength not to
kill herself. We kneeled over the
rubber bodies, gave them baths
carefully, scrubbed their little
orange hands, wrapped them up tight,
said goodnight, never spoke of the
woman like a gaping wound
weeping on the stairs, the man like a stuck
buffalo, baffled, stunned, dragging
arrows in his side. As if we had made a
pact of silence and safety, we kneeled and
dressed those tiny torsos with their elegant
belly-buttons and minuscule holes
high on the buttock to pee through and all that
darkness in their open mouths, so that I
have not been able to forgive you for giving your
daughter away, letting her go at
eight as if you took Molly Ann or
Tiny Tears and held her head
under the water in the bathinette
until no bubbles rose, or threw her
dark rosy body on the fire that
burned in that house where you and I
barely survived, sister, where we
swore to be protectors.     

-Sharon Olds

This poem speaks about Olds' own sad childhood. Her parents weren't there for her and her sister, so they only had each other. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother thought the only means of escape was suicide. Her father, when he got drunk, often directed the anger towards the mother. With no mother or father taking care of them, the sisters rely on each other. The sisters make a pact between each other to never treat their own children this horribly. Both of them take of their as if they were the sisters' own children. The sisters will not only protect each other, but the dolls as well that they see as their children. Olds poem gives a personal view about having a dysfunctional family. It is a personal recount of her childhood. Olds was just lucky enough to have someone else there with her. They must have relied heavily on each other and this must have made their sibling bond stronger. No one should have to be in such a negative environment. but to have not even one good thing must be even harder to deal with.

One Year

When I got to his marker, I sat on it,
like sitting on the edge of someone's bed
and I rubbed the smooth, speckled granite.
I took some tears from my jaw and neck
and started to wash a corner of his stone.
Then a black and amber ant
ran out onto the granite, and off it,
and another ant hauled a dead
ant onto the stone, leaving it, and not coming back.
Ants ran down into the grooves of his name
and dates, down into the oval track of the
first name's O, middle name's O,
the short O of his last name,
and down into the hyphen between
his birth and death--little trough of his life.  
Soft bugs appeared on my shoes,
like grains of pollen, I let them move on me,
I rinsed a dark fleck of mica,
and down inside the engraved letters
the first dots of lichen were appearing
like stars in early evening.
I saw the speedwell on the ground with its horns,
the coiled ferns, copper-beech blossoms, each
petal like that disc of matter which
swayed, on the last day, on his tongue.
Tamarack, Western hemlock,
manzanita, water birch
with its scored bark,
I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it,
then I lay down on my father's grave.
The sun shone down on me, the powerful
ants walked on me. When I woke,
my cheek was crumbly, yellowish
with a mustard plaster of earth. Only
at the last minute did I think of his body
actually under me, the can of
bone, ash, soft as a goosedown
pillow that bursts in bed with the lovers.
When I kissed his stone it was not enough,
when I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I
ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.

-Sharon Olds

Olds is visiting her father's grave, and it has been a year since he died. The poem is very sad. Regardless of how much time has passed, Olds is still much effected by her own father's death. She has other poems that seem to speak about her father in a negative light, but he was still her father. The Olds uses vivid details which creates a scene of what is talking place. A woman coming to visit a someone, but their marker hasn't exactly been taken care of. There is dust and bugs on it. Weeds have started to around it. Olds ends until sleeping through the night on her father's grave. It is the closest she will every be to her father for a while. While she seems to have accepted for the most part that her father is gone, there is still that tug of denial there. Since he is physical there, maybe Olds doesn't feel as if he is completely gone. The death of a parent seems like one of the hardest things to deal with. This poem makes we highly upset, because I know that in the future it will be visiting my parents' graves. While it is a sad ,it is the harsh truth. It makes me think about the fact that while it seems long, the time on earth we have is short. In a previous poem, Olds' father had been dying of an illness and now a year has passed since he has been gone. Those to poems shows that time can't heal all wounds and that life can quickly be taken away.

My Life Had Stood - A Loaded Gun

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -

And now We roam in Sovreign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him
The Mountains straight reply -

And do I smile, such cordial light
Opon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let it’s pleasure through -

And when at Night - Our good Day done -
I guard My Master’s Head -
’Tis better than the Eider Duck’s
Deep Pillow - to have shared -

To foe of His - I’m deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

Though I than He - may longer live
He longer must - than I -
For I have but the power to kill,
Without - the power to die -
-Emily Dickinson
This seems to be a very dark and angry poem. It is not a regular anger, for Dickinson doesn't seem like that type, but instead is a calm and twisted anger. The anger that many haven't seem and it is often unexpected and surprising when it is released. In the first stanza, Dickinson seems to be comparing her life to a loaded gun. Her life is at a stopping point. Just like the gun is there until an owner, Dickinson waits for the dangerous emotions to claim her mind and take her away from it all. In the second stanza, Dickinson seems to be wondering about, her anger leading her. She hunts a doe, and speaks for Him. This could mean that Dickinson is wishing to release her anger on someone, yet the "speaking" is her way of releasing her anger. By the third stanza, Dickinson has begun to cool down some, yet the anger still lurks there. The smile isn't one of joy, but of anger. By the fourth stanza, it can be said that the anger has taken over. The anger is no longer her "owner", but is now the "master." Dickinson can not release the anger though, because that would be dangerous. In the fifth stanza, she speaks of her anger as being deadly to her enemies. By the end of the poem, Dickinson seems to be thankful for her anger. It is what makes her strong enough to kill, yet without it she will be killed. The whole poem is a lengthy metaphor. Dickinson and her anger are like a loaded gun and its owner. Dickinson isn't the one in control, her anger is. Just like when a person has a gun, they aren't in control, the gun controls them. The gun is what makes the person feel strong, like they can do anything. With it they can end a life, but without it, someone might end theirs. The same thing works with anger. It can fuel a rage in someone and cause them to do something drastic, but without it, a person can be taken down.

We never know how high we are

We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise; 
And then, if we are true to plan, 
Our statures touch the skies- 

The heroism we recite 
Would be a daily thing,, 
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp     

For fear to be a king.

-Emily Dickinson 

It is another positive and uplifting poem by Emily Dickinson. This poem is a motivation for people to do something great because they are great. The first stanza says that we truly don't know who great we are until we are put in a situation that allows for us to show how great we are. Then when the situation goes well and we succeed with our greatness, we feel like heroes or feel worthy of something. The next stanza speaks about how there are regular heroes that are seen daily and that we should not hide or be dishonest about how great we really are because that would stop us from being successful. Everyone has felt that feeling when they feel like they can do something great, yet they hold back. It can go deeper than just holding back our greatness. Doing something great and continuing it can sometimes require a lot of effort. For example, if a person is a CEO of a company. He did something great, but now it required hard work to maintain that greatness. That can be the fear of being successful that Dickinson speaks of, the fear of the responsibility that comes with it. Like especially now, with everyone worried about graduating. Success isn't always easy for everyone and sometimes it is harder to continue being successful than earning it in the first place. Like it can be easy to get all A's, but then keeping it that way can be hard. Being successful can be hard too, especially when even greater responsibility is given to you and you can't fail at the task. So in the end, maybe the poem does have a negative undertone. People can do greatness if they are given the chance, but no everyone can handle the responsibilities that come with being great.      


After we flew across the country we got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho  bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly form the left my     moon rising slowly form the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

-Sharon Olds

I feel that Olds often uses poems to express powerful emotions. In this poem, Olds speaks of someone she loves dearly. The two of them seem to be having or had an intimate moment and Olds is using the many comparisons to describe them. She speaks of the two of them coming together, like two parts of a map. She represents one half of the United States and her love represents the other have. She then moves on to describe those important places on the map. I like this metaphor for the fact that they are two places that wouldn't normally have anything to do with each other and then she slowly moves towards the middle. She starts out with far places like San Francisco and New York, then comes closer until both of them each represent a part of Kansas. Like they aren't supposed to be together because they are so different, yet at the same time they are perfect for each other. Everyone is always looking for that perfect other half, someone that is just for them. Olds describes this feeling perfectly in her poem. For the moment in the poem, she truly has that perfect person. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yesterday is History

Yesterday is History,
'Tis so far away
Yesterday is Poetry
'Tis Philosophy

Yesterday is mystery
Where it is Today
While we shrewdly speculate
Flutter both away

-Emily Dickinson

This is another simple poem by Emily Dickinson. This poem is very different from the usual theme of her poems. While Dickinson usually discusses death, and immortality, this is a positive poem that speaks about enjoying living. Yesterday is the main focus of the poem, and this poem seems to say that people shouldn't focus on the past and move forward. The first two lines compare yesterday to history. To me, this means that like history can't be changed, you can't change what happened to you yesterday. Whatever happens yesterday is like your own history. The whole first stanza basically speaks of yesterday being the past. Yesterday is beautiful, like poetry is. A philosophy is basically the pursuit of the meaning of something. In this case, people often pursue the meaning of their own life. They waste so much time thinking that life passes them by. Also people tend to base current things off of what has happened in the past. People base today off of what has happened yesterday instead of treating everyday like it is a new beginning.  Dickinson tells us that yesterday and today are both two things that we don't know, but if we waste too much time focusing on them, then they both will be gone. While a human life is long, or can be long, it doesn't last forever. People should cherish the time they have because they will never know when something may be ripped from them.  People waste so much time on pointless things that don't matter that they don't see the good things they have until they gone. The poem reminds me of that saying "You never know what you have until it is gone." This applies more than just to materialistic things. It goes for people too. I think that this poem can really open society's eyes about the value of life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain. 
-Emily Dickinson

 While Dickinson's poems usually seem dark and speaks of death, this poem is really positive and motivating.   This poem is all about stopping something bad, to live a good life. She starts with speaking about a broken heart. If she can stop it then her life will have meaning. If she can ease someone's ache, relieve their pain, or even help a small bird, then her life will have meaning. This can apply to today's society. Too many people often have that moment in their life when they feel like there life is meaningless. Dickinson basically says help someone else, and you will feel better about yourself. It can be something big or it can be something small. People often set life goals such as being rich, or famous, or having a lot of something. Dickinson shows that life isn't about  materialistic things, but instead life is about helping others.  Help others because one day you are going to need someone to help you. With so much going one into today's society, people don't seem to think about others. We don't think about that homeless person who needs just a little bit of money for food, or even that person who may be struggling just to open a door. A simple jester could not only brighten their day, but it can also brighten yours.

A Week Later

A week later, I said to a friend: I don't
think I could ever write about it.
Maybe in a year I could write something.
There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school. And in my dream
someone was playing jacks, and in the air there was a
huge, thrown, tilted jack
on fire. And when I woke up, I found myself
counting the days since I had last seen
my husband-only two years, and some weeks,
and hours. We had signed the papers and come down to the
ground floor of the Chrysler Building,
the intact beauty of its lobby around us
like a king's tomb, on the ceiling the little
painted plane, in the mural, flying. And it
entered my strictured heart, this morning,
slightly, shyly as if warily,
untamed, a greater sense of the sweetness
and plenty of his ongoing life,
unknown to me, unseen by me,
unheard, untouched-but known, seen,
heard, touched. And it came to me,
for moments at a time, moment after moment,
to be glad for him that he is with the one
he feels was meant for him. And I thought of my
mother, minutes from her death, eighty-five
years from her birth, the almost warbler
bones of her shoulder under my hand, the
eggshell skull, as she lay in some peace
in the clean sheets, and I could tell her the best
of my poor, partial love, I could sing her
out with it, I saw the luck
and luxury of that hour.

-Sharon Olds

This poem is like a sequel to Olds' poem 'The End'. In that poem, Olds is discussing about the divorce she and her husband will be having. She was still in love with her husband, and she was afraid that her children will react badly to it. In this poem, the divorce has happened and all papers have been signed. Since she really didn't want the divorce, going through it has been hard on Olds. She speaks of not being able to really write about it and how it she has kept the emotions inside. She describes the building where the divorce took place and speaks of it as a beautiful tomb. I guess it would make sense since a tomb is where someone is laid to rest. In this case, her divorce is what is being laid to rest. Even though she is sad about the divorce, she is glad that her ex-husband can be with someone who he was meant to be with. Her ex-husband's love was clearly very important to her. As she speaks of her mother's death, Olds tells about how she used to talk to her mother about the partial love life. I think that Olds knew that the marriage wasn't going to last, yet she still loved her husband. It doesn't speak of him being a bad or good husband, but Olds was much in love with him. In the poem 'The End', Olds was going through some serious sadness. Now that the divorce is finalized, she can begin healing and moving on. A divorce can be a pretty upsetting thing to go through, especially if you still love the person. In Olds' case, she loved her husband enough to go through the divorce and let him be with his true love. It takes a lot of heart and strength to do that. Based off her poems and background, Olds seems like a strong person, but even the sadness of love ending gets to her.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away                              
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove  
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –       
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –

-Emily Dickinson

In this poem, Dickinson personifies Death. He comes to pick up the speaker and they go on a simple ride through the town. Regular things are seen, such as children playing, fields, and the sun setting. As it gets dark, it gets chilly out. The speaker is not prepared for this kind of weather. Near the end of the poem, the speaker says that this all happened centuries ago. The speaker is already dead and this was no ordinary ride. The speaker was remembering her own death, and the ride she took to the afterlife. Something that once seemed like an ordinary ride was actually about a dead woman taking a ride with death. She ends up seeing her own burial spot and rides of with Death himself. Dickinson has spoken of death before, but this a new way to do. She speaks of Death as a person, instead of an something that happens. In this case, Death is a gentleman that came for the speaker. She describes Death in such a way that there seems to be no reason to be afraid. Death is kind and moves slowly. This could mean that the speaker died slowly, possibly of natural causes. Along with death, this poem also mentions the afterlife. The speaker is telling the story of her own death centuries later, in the afterlife. Dickinson shows that even if death happens, it doesn't necessarily mean that someone's life ends. Her use of metaphors and imagery makes it possible to believe that life continues on even when the physical body is done with.  Death doesn't mean the end to Dickinson. It is just one more step closer to the afterlife, where things are better.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Unborn

Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.

Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.

Sometimes I see them lying like love letters      
In the Dead Letter Office

And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.                   

-Sharon Olds

Seeing the title of this poem reminded me of the previous poem where Olds and her love decided to have an abortion. I see this poem as sort of a sequel to that one. In this poem, Olds uses a variety of metaphors to speak of the child or children she would've had if she didn't have the abortion. She speaks of the child as a presence, someone that is there, yet she can not reach them. This poem is sad. The abortion has left a hole in Olds' heart and she can't get her mind off the child she could've had. I feel that this poem opens up to the sadness that mother may feel from having an abortion. It scream whether the poem is for or against abortion, but this poem does open eyes to the fact of the matter that abortion not only hurts the child, but it hurts the mother too. It is an emotional scar that seems to remain on the mother for the rest of her life and doesn't heal even when that mother does have children.  This poem is shorter compared to olds' other poems, and doesn't really tell a story or of an event either. It is a creative way of Olds describing her feelings and releasing her inner turmoil.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd advertise -- you know!

How dreary to be somebody!          
How public like a frog
To tell one's name the livelong day  
To an admiring bog!

-Emily Dickinson

This poem is perfect for people to learn that being in the spotlight isn't necessary a good thing. This is a simple poem that consists of two stanzas and follows iambic trimester. Dickinson introduces the speaker as a nobody, and then asks who the reader is. This suggests that Dickinson may she her self as not having an identity.  She then moves on to ask if the reader is a nobody, and that if they are, they need to keep it a secret. She then goes on the speak about how sad it is to be somebody because they are always speaking their name and telling those willing to listen. It is a simple poem that seems to poke ridicule at the public eye. This poem evens applies to today's society. There are people that are famous only because they speak of themselves and then the fools of the public eye admire them. During Dickinson's time, the rich were the best people and seemed as famous. Though Dickinson's own family was well off, it a way Dickinson herself was a nobody. She spent most of her life indoors. Dickinson didn't become well know until after her death, when her sister had her 1,800 poems published. This can be seen as a comical poem by Dickinson. It pokes fun at who society identifies as a nobody and a somebody. This poem shows me that people may not be who they think they are, but instead we are what society makes us to be. People may preach about being individuals and not following trends, but everybody has done something to fit in. Whether it be changing their look, to buying something fancy thing that is being advertised, to hiding our opinions for fear of what others think of them, everyone had a part of them that they hide from society. They instead choose to do what is right by society.

Friday, February 14, 2014


 I have heard about the civilized,
the marriages run on talk, elegant and honest, rational. But you and I are
savages. You come in with a bag,
hold it out to me in silence.
I know Moo Shu Pork when I smell it
and understand the message: I have
pleased you greatly last night. We sit
quietly, side by side, to eat,
the long pancakes dangling and spilling,
fragrant sauce dripping out,
and glance at each other askance, wordless,
the corners of our eyes clear as spear points
laid along the sill to show
a friend sits with a friend here.

-Sharon Olds

Olds seems to be sharing a moment with someone. They don't live like other people. She makes it seem like what they are is wrong. They have spent the night together and Olds seems to be reflecting on it. I would say that based off this that Olds and her friend here are not married to each other. She speaks of marriage as the norm and that they must not be normal since they are not married. It would almost be like they are wild trying to live in a civilized world. Based off the title, since primitive means early in the history of mankind, they are primitive living in a world that has evolved. They keep everything a secret between themselves. The two are friends that morning, but clearly last night was a different thing for them. It would almost seem like they have had one night stand or something with each other, something clearly not embraced by society. This poem is shorter compared to a lot of other poems that Olds have written. It also seems to be more positive than others too. While these two may have done something that isn't embraced where they live, it clearly was a good time for both of them. I really enjoy the fact that while Olds poems do have hidden meanings, they are easier to understand than other poems. Most of her poems are based off her own life. It seems that if you were to take all her poems and put them in a book, it would be like an autobiography in poetry form.

A coffin is a small domain

A Coffin—is a small Domain,         
Yet able to contain
A Citizen of Paradise
In it diminished Plane.

A Grave—is a restricted Breadth— 
Yet ampler than the Sun—
And all the Seas He populates
And Lands He looks upon

To Him who on its small Repose
Bestows a single Friend—
Circumference without Relief—
Or Estimate—or End—       

-Emily Dickinson

Another poem written by Emily Dickinson that reflects her darker side. While this poem speaks of death, it also speaks on the possibility of life after death. In the first stanza it speaks of a coffin as a small place, yet it is able to hold so much. This can be interpreted as the fact that a coffin does hold a body, yet at the same it is a one's own personal heaven. The same thing goes for a grave. It is where the coffin is held, yet it is large. The first two stanzas do more than talk about death. It speaks the afterlife and how life continues even after death. Dickinson has often spoke of the afterlife or some form of life after death in many of her darker poems that speak about it. Another topic in this poem is the existence of God. Dickinson mentions "He" twice and says that "he" populates the seas and looks upon all the lands. This goes back to religious part of Dickinson, and along with the belief of God as the creator. He is looking upon everything that he has created. "Circumference without Relief" could be seen as a metaphor for the Circle of Life. The Circle of life basically means that everyone is born, everyone lives, and that everyone dies. This is a repeating cycle that never ends. Dickinson's poem speaks with of the ending point in the circle, the death. Death is something that everyone will go through and it can't be avoided. The poem flows in a reverse kind of way. It starts with the death and goes backwards to the point of dying. In a way the poem mentions the whole Circle of Life. It mentions God, who is the creator, life, and then finally death. It just introduces a new point in the circle: life after death.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The End

We decided to have the abortion, became             
killers together. The period that came
changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple
who had been for life.
As we talked of it in bed, the crash
was not a surprise. We went to the window,
looked at the crushed cars and the gleaming     
curved shears of glass as if we had
done it. Cops pulled the bodies out
Bloody as births from the small, smoking
aperture of the door, laid them
on the hill, covered them with blankets that soaked
through. Blood
began to pour
down my legs into my slippers. I stood
where I was until they shot the bound               
form into the black hole                               
of the ambulance and stood the other one
up, a bandage covering its head,
stained where the eyes had been.
The next morning I had to kneel
an hour on that floor, to clean up my blood,
rubbing with wet cloths at those glittering
translucent spots, as one has to soak
a long time to deglaze the pan
when the feast is over.

Based of the title alone I found this poem kind of creepy. I guess it was because of the fact that when I think of something ending, it usually is bad. In this poem, Olds is pregnant, but her and her love interest have decided to get an abortion. It is just a weird coincidence that while they are talking about having an abortion, a deadly car crash happens on their street. From the bedroom window, Olds and her love interest can see everything that is happing. They can see the police, and even the dead victims. Olds goes on to describe the scene, and compares it to childbirth, something she won't go through if she has an abortion. The blood not only reminds her of childbirth, but also of an abortion. Based off this poem, it would seem like Olds would not be able to handle the abortion. In the beginning, she describes her and her love as killers for wanting to go through the abortion. Then later on into the poem, she speaks about cleaning up blood the next day. Where did the blood come from though? It seems as if Olds mixed either birthing or abortion with the current reality. The car crash has traumatized her, and now it seems as though the abortion may not happen. At the end of the poem, Olds cleans up blood. Blood that has mysteriously appeared. This seems to relate the that saying that "time heals all wounds" because she spent time cleaning up the blood. While the blood may be gone, the memory will still be there, just like the memory of the car crash from the night before and the memory of the child she once had after the abortion is completed.  This poem also shows how death and life go hand in hand. That couple lost their life in one quick moment, and Olds has though about ending the life of one that hasn't even began yet.

I felt a funeral, in my brain

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading–treading–till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through–

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum–
Kept beating–beating–till I thought
My Mind was going numb–

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space–began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race  
Wrecked, solitary, here–

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down–
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing–then–

-Emily Dickinson

This is one of Dickinson's darker poems. On the surface, the speaker seems to be attending a regular funeral, and is just describing everything. The weird part is that the funeral is taking place in the speaker's own mind. That's where the speculation comes in. Is the speaker, which may or may not be Dickinson, attending a real funeral or is she going crazy as many believe?  Since Dickinson did in fact spend most her life indoors, isolated from the world, this poem can be seen as one of the ways she expressed her sanity. I see this poem as speaking more than just the literal meaning. Dickinson uses this poem to touch on death, and possibility even life after death. When people die, there is a funeral for them, yet Dickinson also speaks on things associated with life after death, such as the soul and Heaven. There is also the question of the matter who is the funeral for? Dickinson did go through some traumatizing things in her life. This poem could symbolize Dickinson burying those memories, The funeral could be a metaphor for her suppressing those traumatizing memories, so in a sense it's not a real funeral at all.  A lot of Dickinson's poems seem to connect to her life, yet at the same time seem to have no relevance to her life at all even though see wrote it. This poem was written during the time of the Civil War, so maybe she had a love fighting and he has passed away. This poem is one of her darkest poems. It almost seems that by this point in time, Dickinson has literally gone insane.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Flurry

When we talk about when to tell the kids,
we are so together, so concentrated.
I mutter, “I feel like a killer.” “I’m
the killer”—taking my wrist—he says,
holding it. He is sitting on the couch,
the old indigo chintz around him,
rich as a night sea with jellies,
I am sitting on the floor. I look up at him,          
as if within some chamber of matedness,                           
some dust I carry around me. Tonight,
to breathe its Magellanic field is less
painful, maybe because he is drinking
a wine grown where I was born—fog,
eucalyptus, sempervirens—and I’m
sharing the glass with him. “Don’t catch
my cold,” he says, “—oh that’s right, you want
to catch my cold.” I should not have told him that,
I tell him I will try to fall out of
love with him, but I feel I will love him
all my life. He says he loves me
as the mother of our children, and new troupes    
of tears mount to the acrobat platforms
of my ducts and do their burning leaps.
Some of them jump straight sideways, and, for a
moment, I imagine a flurry
of tears like a whirra of knives thrown
at a figure, to outline it—a heart’s spurt
of rage. It glitters, in my vision, I nod
to it, it is my hope
-Sharon Olds
I love how real Olds' poems feel since they are based off her own life. In this poem, Olds and her husband are going to separate and have to find a way to tell the children. Olds is thinking about a lot here, from how the children will react to her own emotions. I don't think she wants to go through the divorce because she still loves him, yet she knows that the divorce will be for the best since he no longer loves her as his wife. It is a very sad poem, especially since it is from Olds' point of view and it is clear she doesn't want go through this. It's like she loves him enough to let him go. It must be painful to let someone go that you love so much. The divorce has clearly evoked a strong reaction from Olds. Like most of Olds' poems, this is a free verse poem. It can also be seen as a narrative poem since it does in fact tell a story.  I love how she uses ordinary objects to describe her feelings. For example, how she says "I imagine a flurry of tears like a whirra of knives thrown at a figure." It makes sense because like those knives are being thrown at someone, her tears are directed at her soon to be ex-husband. A divorce does seem like a rough thing to go through, and Olds makes that clear in this poem.

Heart, we will forget him!

Heart, we will forget him!
You an I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,     
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me
That I my thoughts may dim;                        
Haste! lest while you're lagging.
I may remember him!
-Emily Dickinson

Though only a short poem, it is very passionate. Someone has been hurt and they are trying to get over them. The person may be Dickinson herself since she did lose her first husband, who had passed away. Now she must forget the feelings she felt for him and forget the memories, but if the heart takes too long, then the brain will continue to remember him. She needs both the heart and the head to forget their past love completely in order for her to move on. Forgetting a loved one isn't the easiest thing to do, and it takes a while to do. I feel that Dickinson wishes that she could forget her love, but the feelings and memories are still there. Heartbreak is something that everyone will eventually go through, so it is easy to relate to. Either that person will hurt you or you will lose that person to a tragedy. This poem could apply to either one of those situations because for either one, you are going to want to forget the person in order to move on. Based off of words such as "warmth" and "light", this person has had a very good impact on Dickinson's life. The "warmth" could refer to the feelings he caused in her heart, and the "light" could refer to the good memories. Since this person has had such a good impact on her life, this is making it harder for Dickinson to forget them and move on. That seems to make healing so much harder when the person was good and then they suddenly hurt you, or they pass away.  Unlike most of Dickinson's other poems, this one is short and short and straight to the point. It is very simple and easy to see what it is that Dickinson wants.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Race

The Race

When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,
bought a ticket, ten minutes later
they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors
had said my father would not live through the night
and the flight was cancelled. A young man
with a dark brown moustache told me
another airline had a nonstop
leaving in seven minutes. See that
elevator over there, well go
down to the first floor, make a right, you'll
see a yellow bus, get off at the
second Pan Am terminal, I
ran, I who have no sense of direction
raced exactly where he'd told me, a fish
slipping upstream deftly against
the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those
bags I had thrown everything into
in five minutes, and ran, the bags
wagged me from side to side as if
to prove I was under the claims of the material,
I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,
I who always go to the end of the line, I said
Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said
Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then
run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,
at the top I saw the corridor,
and then I took a deep breath, I said
goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,
I used my legs and heart as if I would
gladly use them up for this,
to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the
bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed
in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of
women running, their belongings tied
in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my
long legs he gave me, my strong
heart I abandoned to its own purpose,
I ran to Gate 17 and they were
just lifting the thick white
lozenge of the door to fit it into
the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not
too rich, I turned sideways and
slipped through the needle's eye, and then
I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet
was full, and people's hair was shining, they were
smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a
mist of gold endorphin light,
I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,
in massive relief. We lifted up
gently from one tip of the continent
and did not stop until we set down lightly on the
other edge, I walked into his room
and watched his chest rise slowly
and sink again, all night
I watched him breathe.
                          Sharon Olds

This is a very intense poem. It is a free verse and tells the story as Olds races against time to get to her father. Her father is very sick, and odds seem to be against Olds until the very end when she just barely made it. The poem really allows for someone to picture the emotions she was feeling and gives a first person account. This poem causes some serious emotions. It is hard trying to rush to get to one of your sick parents knowing that they might not live through the night. It is basically the final goodbye. I love the imagery that she uses in the poem. It shows that this is something real, that she actually went through this and not some figment of her imagination. Olds' poems tend to be accounts of events that actually happened, but this one seems to be one of the best ones. I think it is more so of the fact that it is talking about a loved one dying and that is something that either people have dealt with or something that they may deal with in the future. Is is easy to picture yourself in her position, running against the clock to a parent you may never hear from again. It may be to soon to assume that he died because the poem doesn't give a clear ending, but you can kind of picture that he was on his death bed. She was rushing like it was the end. She wouldn't be rushing if he could be cured by the doctor. It is that intensity that can keep one on the edge of their seat. As you read it, you just want her to make it, and it brings a sense of relief that she does because it is her last night. Can you image going through that? The person who raised who raised you is dying and you might not even make it to see them for the last time? It is a very intense feeling. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hope is the thing with feathers

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.                                  
I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

This is one of Dickinson's earlier poems, before her writing style could be determined. The open is one extended metaphor in which hope is symbolized by a bird. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFFF. The poem also uses a number of contrasting words. There are positive words such as "sweetest" and  "warm", and there are negative words such as "gale" and "chilliest." It is clear though that the poem is overall positive.  In this poem, Dickinson uses a bird as a metaphor for hope. She goes on about what the bird does, about how the bird sings its songs for her without stopping, and never asks for nothing in return. Dickinson also says that even the toughest storms cannot stop the bird. She is saying that we should not let even the worst things cause us to give up hope The only thing that could hurt hope is our own negative thoughts. .Everyone will go through a challenge time in life and face tough situations, and hope is the thing that lives inside all of us, keeping us moving forward. Hope can help someone overcome even the most difficult situations. The overall theme of the poem would be hope. I feel that this is a great poem that everyone can read, and feel good about. Dickinson normally writes about a lot of dark and depressing subjects, but this poem is one that shows her positivity. This poem is a true inspiration and it inspired me when I first read it. Going through my own hardships right now, this poem made me feel like the future is bright for me. I would not recommend this poem just to people going through a struggle or a dark time, but to everyone because just like everyone has hope, everyone needs something to strengthen their hope.