Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Loss - Analysis

Yesterday, I left you with my poem Loss. It wasn't the first piece of verse I ever wrote but it is part of my juvenilia and as such contains words, sentences, even sections perhaps which could otherwise have been improved upon, or simply left out. Here it is again:

The rift grows between us. Why I cannot say,

How I cannot tell, but onwards, ever onwards

To infinity beyond, swells this void of separation.

Engulfed by funereal dark we lie together,

Whilst the ashen plane of our numbstruck love

Falls headlong into the grave. I just don’t understand.

For months we were as two as one, enjoying all we shared,

But now this drift cremates our peace entire,

And the light of a million stars is nothing save a shade,

Grey dimness through the filter of my sight,

Gobbling in wake the nabbing trawl of joy’s own catch.

We were, we were, we saw each other whole,

I brought you up, you did the same, we took ourselves on high,

We held each other close, we breathed each other’s sleep and dreams,

We talked the talk unguarded, all barriers worked clear,

We basked in glow, we walked in step, we lived and worked in fere,

All thoughts directed to ourselves, our hopes, our plans, our future.


No longer. This is the end, we both feel it,

Together, apart, and the distance between those stars is nothing but a ramble,

A short hike through the filter of my thoughts,

Compared to what falls between us.

Even enemies are as friends against the gulf which lies between,

For no bind of faith, intimacy, or promise lies with them,

No tender bond, torn apart by ending’s hands,

And thrown upon us where we rest.

Now the ever-growing footfall of our turbulent archivist,

Suffusing dignity and state, runs through my mind,

Plucking passages of past happiness to place before me,

And I screw my eyes tight shut, though still I see you laughing, crying, talking,

Your whispers sounding even as you sleep beside me.

How will I bear this loss? I know I will live without you,

And in time I will forget, but before then must be days of pain

When what I’ll be is you, living in your soul, wondering how you cope,

What you think, where you are, stretching our elastic taut over the void

Until it snaps, and we’re no longer joined by anything save memory

Of our gentle tie, the easy knot of a good time once past.

Now I must sleep, get ready to mourn my loss.

The whole poem is mouthed, understood or written by the persona who is contemplating the end of his relationship with someone even as he lies in bed next to her. She is sleeping, but he is awake and tormented - matters have deteriorated such that he feels there is very real 'rift' between them both, and that this is getting broader. 

There follow two and a half lines of weak language to try to describe this before the words 'swells this void of separation' I think emphasise the severity of the situation with its image half-forming in the reader's mind, quickly followed by the language of death, 'funereal dark', 'the ashen plane', the 'grave' themselves qualified respectively by other vocabulary, 'Engulfed', 'numbstruck love', 'Falls headlong'.

I don't want to go into too much linguistic detail this early in the blog but I hope the above paragraph shows the poet's mind at work, even in his infancy of craft, joining, linking and trying to outline through choice of words the central aspect of the poem which is of course its title, Loss. Much of this occurs unconsciously as I write, but I am indebted to John Donne for the idea for this verse as he once wrote a poem in which he was enjoying the affections and comfort of his partner so much that when the sun came up in the morning to rouse them from bed he told it to clear off! Of course, my own effort is of much sadder experience in this regard.

If you look further, the language of death continues, 'cremates', 'shade', 'Grey dimness' before I have enough of it and rewind to those early, happy days with this lady. 'We were, we were' is weak again as is the 'We basked in glow...' line but I do like 'we breathed each other's sleep and dreams' and of course 'the talk unguarded'.

Once more, I don't want to overload you in this first exploratory post, so I shall give you some homework! How does that 'talk unguarded' relate to the section on 'enemies' in the next paragraph, and can you see the connection between the two parts mentioning the word 'stars'? Again, this is all happening subconsciously for me until the words are out from the nib of my pen and on the page so if you find it a bit tricky to make the join please don't worry as you are not alone - I'm right behind you!

Oh, 'our turbulent archivist' feeding me memories of our time together, but I almost ruin it with the completely redundant 'suffusing dignity and state' - what on earth does that mean!? Luckily, I think I manage to rescue some semblance with the succession of action verbs 'screw my eyes',  'laughing, crying, talking', 'whispers sounding'. I am learning here, early in my craft, the importance of cluster words and images to create effect.

I shall leave the last few lines for you, dear reader, hoping my elastic band image works as you would feel the experience of breaking up with someone though retaining that 'gentle tie' and 'easy knot' some time afterwards, and of course that word 'void' which takes us all the way back to the third line of the piece; encirclement of beginning and end of the poem is something I am also learning at this early juncture of my apprenticeship, 'mourn' in the final line further example so and that in 'sleep' again referenced earlier.

Tomorrow, I'll talk a little bit more about the background to this poem (though my then girlfriend's name will remain mine!) and show how such deep sense of loss led me to start having visions before going on to question the very nature of my soul itself...      

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