Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blow by blow analysis of Elemental by Dean Young

Before coming up with even a SENTENCE to talk about the nets of connections in this striking poem, I found it necessary to separate all repetitions and overlaps.
In the current issue of American Poet, p. 9, CK Williams writes in an essay entitled, "That sense of Wonder and Exaltation", about what he calls "the syndrome of the sinking heart". It summarizes the reaction of the group on 5/23.
From the cowboy lovesong tone in "dearheart" to the meanings underlying "summarize", as in sum up, reduce, wrap up -- Dean Young will invite you to read again and again this one poem.
To use some of CK's words, you will "be so taken aback* that you think, 'My god how did he DO that?" and then, "envy and dismay turn to admiration and awe, which in turn lead to delight" then finally a reminder of what poetry is about in the first place.

I hope you will re-read this poem, admire its power to give you a different way to consider love, life, death, elements, words...
Elemental :
title. 4 elements: the first one mentioned is fire.
Spark (stanza 1) to sparks (stanza 2) – nouns –
The first – “has it say over the fire”
The second, plural, extends to apply to “we”
Stanza 3: burning: adjective for woods, then noun
Fire alliterated in final stanza with forever and fixed –
This end won’t summarize our forever.
Some things can be fixed by fire, some not. (things / not opposition)

Walked turns to wade to imply water.
Fireflies then are connected to wet grass.

Air: -- first stanza. Already you’re in the air.
Repeated in penultimate line of fourth stanza and
last line (fifth stanza) of the poem.

Night: first line;
sleep as noun, verb in stanza 4;
dreams stanza 5

Fire – implied light in the night
Water – dreams mostly composed of it (putting out fire?)

What is summarized? It must be explained by what is not.
1. Night cannot summarize day;
(implied summary in the spark’s say… which rhymes)
2. quiet doesn’t summarize the song
(can’t go on long, as duration, -- in 3 line sentence, with two songs and long.

Implied spark also is not long, but has its “say” over fire. (mysterious)
( 3. song cannot summarize internal spark)

4. Coming won’t summarize leaving

Waking (won’t summarize) sleep
Nor sleep our dreams
Implied summary of fireflies and ice
Winter/ summer

5. Your body in my hands won’t be summarized by your body far from me.

Final: 6. this end won’t summarize our forever.

The complicated syntax of stanzas 3 and 4:
Enjambments of line: wade/ coming/ leaving
Stanza leap
Ice, Winter, body, (stanza leap)

The implied parallel of waking summarizing sleep;
Sleep our dreams;
Are fireflies over the wet grass dreams? Sleep? Referring to the brevity of how long one stays (leaving);
The ice isn’t melting, but settling in an abandoned glass. (transparent container)
Also dreamlike;

Ice leads to winter which cannot summarize summer,
Implied parallel with warmth of body near which cannot summarize the body far.

Such complexity of enjambment, further meshes the imbedded images in a 5 line sentence to end with glass, followed by another series of enjambments in a 4 line (one word starts on the end of a line, to make 4 lines) ending with me.
Confusion of syntax, fuses the image.

Instead of saying your body "near", he says "in my hands", and "far" is exacerbated by my hands are nowhere; (and nowhere rhymes with air)

Nowhere is extended to boundless, flowing dreams.
End, as boundary, as completed life returns full circle to the idea of what fire can fix:
(cold, dark) which of course, is started with a spark – as if triggering the heart, crying. The repeated question Dearheart, why are you crying, resolves in the last line stating “we’re already air.”

No comments: