Constructive by Heather McHugh
Hope by Lisel Mueller
The Map by Elizabeth Bishop
How Long Should You Look at the Earth’s Face? by Carolyn Miller
Still Lifes and Landscapes by Emily Wolahan
Rundel discussed the Wolahan, but not Pittsford.
The first poem comes from Dobyns last book of poetry, published in 2016: The Day's Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech. The poem is one of 16 sonnets in the second section which
all start the same way: "The day I learned my wife was dying..."
It plunges the reader "in media res" -- without knowing at what stage the author is-- or his wife.
Is she still alive? If she died, how long ago... ? although that is not the point of the poem.
The enjambed lines, leaping over the white space of stanza break:
from stanza 1 to 2 : and once/// out there... (speaking of earth vs. universe)
from stanza 3 to the final couplet: impossible //// gardens (what the mind constructs).
Certainly it affects the rhythm of the poem, but also sketches a feeling of trying to bridge
here to there.
Rundel's discussion included the idea of the positive attached to impossible, (Don Quixote's dreaming the impossible dream"). Both groups addressed awful as Awe-ful, the infinite -- and the push-pull of aiming for what is beyond known, and a sense of terror, being stuck there. How does one strike a balance between the imagination and the reality that ensures that it sag, and "plop,/ there you are again, and everything's worse. "
Some found it an intelligent poem about life-force... some disagreed about hope being guaranteed as eternal, as argument that refutes death . What about suicides? It is lovely to be reminded not to despair, but despair does exist, but here, ignored.
The Map is one of Bishop's earliest poems. We examined the structure -- the sound system
with the liquid l's, the d's in land, shadows, edges, how shallows and shadows interchange..
the wide ee sounds of green, weed and the darker "un" tugging. A bb A; C dd C followed by an unrhymed stanza; repeating in the sandwich rhyme pattern in the final stanza.
The map-maker determines how we see... and map, as metaphor, for some perhaps seemed to be emotionalizing our place in the world. I found this information:
Comments on the Wolahan to be made next week after the Pittsford group discusses it.