Monday, May 11, 2015

What Has Been Lost

In Week #4 we read powerful poems by Eavan Boland and David Ferry, which seemed to be, on one level, a consideration of writing and communication but, more importantly, spoke in elegiac terms of what has been lost.

David Ferry offers us a very long poem without stanza breaks but, it appears, three distinct sections: first, observations of the lake, outside his office window in Massachusetts, which leads the poet to language ("The surface of the page is like lake water"), and finally to the shortest and strongest section, beginning with "When, moments after she died..." And we learn what has been lost.

Boland leads us forward and backward in space and time and among unidentified people. We are aware of fields and memory occurring twice in consecutive lines, that "an art is lost when it no longer knows/How to teach a sorrow to speak..." We wonder who are the they who will never see the edge of the new town, and what is meant by it in "is it still there?"  One wants to guess the land, the past, Ireland--but one might be wrong.

In "Top of the Stove" David Baker said, "Language remains." That a poem does not admit of paraphrasing, that it contains more illusions and images than one can grasp--these only make it a stronger poem. That is part of the beauty and power of poetry.

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