Tuesday, May 6, 2014

[Young in Fall I said: the birds] & [We are what the seas] - Lorine Niedecker

Young in Fall I said: the birds
are at their highest thoughts
of leaving

Middle life said nothing -
to a livelihood

Old age - a high gabbling gathering
before goodbye
of all we know

We are what the seas
have made us

longingly immense

the very veery
on the fence

Both of these poems are carefully constructed, with clear, dense images.  The first poem is concerned with mortality and is divided into three stages, youth, middle, and old age.  These periods are paired with heights, with youth's highs coming down and becoming grounded before a high goodbye, a religious image of ascension before saying a "goodbye of all we know."  It's a clear poem with images that work on several levels.

The second poem deals more with our sense of what we are, and how we became that way.  The idea that we are sculpted by the seas is somewhat confusing to me, but the third line clears it up for me rather well.  We are all indeed immense, and longing is a basic part of the human condition.  We have infinite capacity to go one way or the other (evoked here by the line "very veery on the fence") and our possibilities stretch to infinity, much as the seas appear to from the shore.

Both of these poems, being so short, do not lend themselves to heavy, long-winded scrutiny.  So you, reader, I hope you enjoy these poems, and let the images mull around in your head.  They're dense and satisfying.

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