Yukon Grizzly (not the one killed) (Photo credit: ralky)
One of my poems was recently published by Poetry24, a great website which publishes poems inspired by news events. This poem was about the friendly blonde grizzly bear who was shot from the road near Carcross, Yukon.
You can read the poem here: For the Carcross Grizzly
You can read the news event here:
Shooting of ‘spirit’ bear sparks anger
Grizzly killing ‘classless’
This poem is very observational about the newspaper, the Boston evening transcript, and the people who read it. Because of its observational style about a topic that is quite every day, the poem appears way ahead of its time (1917). The reader of the paper is described as someone who “sways in the wind like a field of ripe corn.” It appears to me that this description indicates that the reader of the transcript is someone who is not too discerning and someone who can be easily swayed. In the end of the poem, Eliot takes a jab at a family member i.e. Cousin Harriet, to whom he delivers the newspaper.
This poem was addressed and is about Eliot’s aunt, Ms. Helen Slingsby. It is particularly descriptive and straightforward, unlike his other poems. His aunt Helen was a maid, an unmarried woman. After she died, there was “silence in heaven” perhaps meaning that she was not well-liked. She seemed to care for her animals, “the dogs were handsomely provided for”, but not so much for the people who served her, the servants have to be very careful “while mistress lived.”
Like many other T.S. Eliot poems, this one is introduced with a quotation from another language. The actual poem begins with first person narration of the speaker inviting the reader along on a journey (“let us go then, you and I”). The narrator wants to the take the reader on a journey through nighttime streets, cheap hotels and long convoluted streets that “follow like a tedious argument.” He does not want the reader to ask questions but just go along with it, just to go along on the ride and observe. Perhaps this is a metaphor for how one should live life: to live rather than ask questions, to observe, to participate, to experience, and to watch.
The opening lines of poem begin with an examination of nature from the third person and morph into a first-person experience of a particular season, summer. The only separation between the idea of summer and the narrator is a semi-colon. “With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade”. This transition from a highly proper and traditional reference to an improper, almost colloquial style is swift and uncompromising and continues throughout the rest of poem.
Tension and contradictions are also introduced in the form of content. For example, Sibyl’s yearning for death in the Satyricon quotation is in stark contrast to the representation of death in the opening lines of the first stanza. The narrator in the opening lines sees death everywhere, thus appears to recoil against the thought of it.
This is particularly evident in the way that Eliot chooses to introduce the concept of spring. Instead of presenting spring as a rebirth, a time of ecstasy, bliss and happiness, Eliot presents a description of a land full of apathetic death. The poem starts with a categorical statement that “April is the cruelest month”. Eliot then elaborates as to why by contrasting it with the other two seasons, winter and summer. But instead of portraying winter as a cold, dark, and barren season, Eliot emphasizes that winter “kept us warm” by “covering Earth in forgetful snow”. Summer is likewise presented in a positive light with its occasional showers and pervasive sunlight. Trapped within these two seasons is spring, a season that represents death but not the kind that Sibyl desires. (This is an excerpt from my paper for the second assignment).
This poem is about the time just after a fight between two lovers. The heat and passion has died down and all that is left is silence. In a way, neither know what to do and perhaps feel that “speech after long silence; it is right.” The narrator appears to be older, if not old, due to the mention of young people in the last line (” young/ we loved each other and were ignorant”). On the other hand, perhaps the narrator is very old and frail indeed (“bodily decrepitude is wisdom”).
As the title indicates, this poem discusses the sorrow associated with love. The first stanza sets the scene of a full moon and the night sky. The second stanza addresses the narrator’s antagonist, the woman with whom he is fighting. The woman is addressed as “you” and she’s described as having “red mournful lips” and eyes full of “a world’s tears”. The sparrows mentioned in the first stanza are mentioned again in the third stanza. The moon is likewise mentioned but instead of being “full round” it is now “crumbling.” The first and last stanza bookend the argument between the lovers by both opening and closing the setting. The fight is never discussed in detail because like a lot of fights, perhaps it does not matter.