Showing 91 - 100 of 483 annotations in the genre "Poem"

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The old sit "on the porch in rockers / Letting the faded light / Of afternoon carry them off." The narrator visualizes them mulling over the past as they rock back and forth. Although the old people cover "ground / They did not know was there," they learn nothing new in this. They receive no redemptive message, not even "a reason / To make it seem worthwhile." In fact, evening comes and soon it will be time for them to go to their solitary beds and fall into the "sheepless / Pastures of a long sleep."

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet stands before an ancient Lycian tomb, upon which is carved the sorrowful face of a woman: "One woman garbed in sorrow’s every mood." He reflects on the constancy of loss in human life. He asks the woman to weep for him, also, because [I] "Share thy stilled sadness, which must ever be / Too changeless, and unending like my own . . . . "

Though the Lycian woman’s grief is old, the poet’s is young. He has lost a child: "With that too human wail in pain expressed, / The parent cry above the empty nest." He is skeptical about dreams of a better life. He rejects "The first confusing, mad bewilderment, / Life’s unbelief in death . . . . " Death is real and final. He concludes with full understanding that "life is but a tender instrument / Whereon the master hand of grief doth fall."

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet describes a loving scene "entwined with you / on the long sofa . . . . " She playfully clips hairs from her husband’s nose as they listen to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Later the same year, he kills himself, "you were dead / by your own hand . . . / I have never understood."

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The Poem of Chalk

Levine, Philip

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In the heart of New York City the narrator comes across a tall, Senegalese man "speaking to a piece of chalk." The man is "neatly dressed / in the remnants of two blue suits . . . " and regal in his bearing. The man’s language is French, and he speaks "so slowly and precisely" that the narrator, no longer young, is reminded of his high school French class. He is also reminded of writing his name on the blackboard after returning to school, following his father’s death. The man knows "the whole history of chalk"; he knows "what creatures had given / their spines to become the dust time / pressed into these perfect cones . . . " The narrator knows that they are both elderly men "sharing the final poem of chalk . . . " [58 lines]

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The Operation

Sexton, Anne

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker of this poem undergoes surgery for some kind of abdominal cancer--the important detail being that her mother had recently gone through the same experience and died several months later. A number of images convey the strangeness and alienation of serious illness. The mother’s cancer is an "embryo of evil" that curiously grew inside her like her own daughter (the speaker). The hospital room is the place "where the snoring mouth gapes / and is not dear."

And at her mother’s bedside the speaker finds that she must "lie / as all who love have lied." Her body hair shaved for her own operation, the speaker finds important values have been stripped away: "All that was special, all that was rare / is common here. /. . . Fact: the body is dumb, the body is meat." Coming out from under anesthesia, the speaker calls for her mother.

Later she realizes that, unlike her mother, she will probably survive. The last lines are comic in a self-deflating way, as the speaker gives herself get-back-to-life marching orders partly in the voice of her mother, concluding: "and run along, Anne, run along now / my stomach laced up like a football / for the game." (About 120 lines, in 6- and 9-line stanzas)

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Miss Rosie

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry — Secondary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Miss Rosie is homeless, a street person surrounded by her foul-smelling possessions. She is not a stranger to the narrator, who has thought long and hard about her present circumstances and how she might have been long ago before she became a familiar sight in the neighborhood. Now reduced to rags, this "wet brown bag of a woman," says the narrator, once was "the best looking gal in Georgia." The narrator "stand[s] up" for her through her "destruction."

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A Minor Issue

Straus, Marc

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A poem in a patient’s voice. He brings "a minor issue" to the doctor’s attention, something so trivial he ought not mention it. The doctor sees so many more important problems, like John Butler who "had a terrible / case of prostate cancer." He went downhill so quickly, unlike the patient’s mother who "died of old age / the way it should be, just pooped out . . . . " She didn’t have "the big C." In any case, the patient’s problem "probably / isn’t much of anything. Don’t you agree?"

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New Bridge over the Missouri

Khan, Jemshed

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem, written in five sections of free verse, begins with the speaker remembering the old steel bridge he used to drive over on his way to work. He describes how the gaps between the steel beams had given him access to the world beyond the bridge: he had been able to see the river bank and railroad tracks and, most importantly, the people down there, "wild dangerous men" living near the edge of the river.

The poet next describes the new bridge, with its smooth speedy surface and solid concrete sides concealing the view. He then steps back and reflects: "what now?" He compares the engineer making the bridge with his own writing, "diminish[ing] the homeless to a poetic abstraction," and asks where this leaves him. Both bridge and abstraction, he implies, take the life, untidy and dangerous but valuable, out of his experience of crossing the Missouri.

He cannot view the material for his poetry now, unless he were to stop, back up the traffic, and risk his life climbing the walls of the bridge, and even then he does not know what he would say, because the new bridge has made him realize something about himself: "I am partly the leech come to feed, / yet I cannot waver from my groove." As a poet, he needs access to the lives of others, an access he likens to parasitism. But his career, the work to which he is going, requires him to speed on across the bridge without pausing.

He now elaborates on his distance from the world of the homeless people (and, by implication, all the other material for his poetry), saying that he has "safely bled away the guilt, / and pity and compassion," from his involvement or complicity in the meaning of his material, and "channeled it" into the poem. The leech image is now applied to the poem which, once filled with those ambivalent emotions, becomes separate from the poet and attaches itself instead to the reader, who now becomes the one feeding on the "dark spurt of old blood," the horrifying riches of which the speaker has rid himself.

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Mid-Term Break

Heaney, Seamus

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker is a boy away at school when the news comes that his four year old brother has been killed in an accident. Arriving home, "I met my father crying . . . " The boy is "embarrassed / By old men standing up to shake my hand / And tell me they were ’sorry for my trouble.’" The next morning the boy goes upstairs to see his brother lying "in the four foot box as in his cot." [22 lines]

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The spirit of St. Francis of Assisi presides over the garden in spring. Hyacinths bloom, and abandoned bird nests are tucked away in the nooks and crannies. Young couples embrace: "St. Francis forgive them / and all lovers / whoever they may be." The scene then fast forwards to summer, when the lovers find themselves bewildered and "incredulous / of their own cure / and half minded / to escape . . . "

The idyllic garden has turned menacing, yet St. Francis continues to have compassion for the lovers who "resemble children / roused from a long sleep." One lover stands up unafraid in the sunlight "as her heart / beats wildly / and her mind / drinks up / the full meaning / of it." [139 lines]

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