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Forum Home > Poetry > Taming the unseen

Priscilla
Member
Posts: 12
Could there be alternate sources of grief aside from the death of a loved one in the poem? The comparison of the swan to the soap could also suggest that the poem is an elegy lamenting the fragility of life rather than the tragedy of death
April 26, 2017 at 2:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Priscilla
Member
Posts: 12
I agree with Rob, the poem could be the poet's medium to express and explore aspects of her grief.
April 26, 2017 at 2:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

You're right the poet suffered from depression Rob - but I think we all have swings in mood. I suppose what makes Smith distinctive is that she writes a poetry that is bold in bringing different moods together: sometimes overlaying them on each other. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

JamesInk98
Member
Posts: 14

Will May at April 26, 2017 at 2:53 PM

What does anyone think?

Well, I always shy away from shape, because I feel like its so subjective and "seeing-as" never equates to "it is." But, the way the lines lengthen and shorten creates a heart/two-swans-necks idea? However I'm probably projecting stereotypical swan imagery. 


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April 26, 2017 at 2:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

It's also good to focus discussion on a poem about what we can deduce from the words on the page: all poems are likely to be prompted by interior moods in part, but we can focus on what's particular to this poem: it's texture, register, techniques etc. She was also a very comic performer, which might be relevant here. She used to sing her poems off-key on the stage.

April 26, 2017 at 2:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

I was thinking also of her suicide attempt in '53 and in Selected Poems: “Prate not to me of suicide, Faint heart in battle, not for pride I say Endure, but that such end denied Makes welcomer yet the death that's to be died.” Though later, was this the foundation stone of her process towards this?

April 26, 2017 at 2:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

I'm glad you brought this up James: I don't think it's too far-fetched. Lots of poets Smith read wrote 'shape poems' (see George Herbert's 'Easter Wings' for a guide) so there is a particular tradition here. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Welll, we're getting to the end of the seminar: thanks to your fantastic comments, we've covered a huge amount - register, shape, diction, form, but more importantly, you've been linking them all the way through to the ideas in the poem. Great stuff!

April 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

Thank you very much.

April 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Thanks Priscilla, Elinor, James, Rob, and everyone who contributed or read and throught about the discusion. I hope you will be inspired to go and read more poems by Smith: and not to be afraid to identify when a poem is playing, joking, and making us laugh (even awkwardly, when we feel we shouldn't be). Good evening everyone  - this was a great discussion. 

April 26, 2017 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

JamesInk98
Member
Posts: 14

Thank you everyone! That was fascinating. 

April 26, 2017 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Elinor Solly
Member
Posts: 4

Thankyou !! Although I've made a little contribution it's been great listening to everyone else's comments and interpretations - very interesting and insightful !!

April 26, 2017 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Priscilla
Member
Posts: 12
Thank You!
April 26, 2017 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Amy
Member
Posts: 1

Thank you! This has been incredibly interesting and helpful.

April 26, 2017 at 3:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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