The Anger and The Anguish
by, 01-04-2012 at 02:24 PM (1609 Views)
I read several good books in 2011. I read "Candide," "The Crying of Lot 49", "Housekeeping," "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," and "The Dubliners." I read others, but these I read last fall and today it is of "The Dubliners" I speak.
I've been wanting to read something by Joyce. Eventually I hope to read "Ulysses." I think that might be akin to saying that someday I'd like to climb Mount Everest, for me anyway. So reading "The Dubliners" and finally, finally reading "The Dead" and getting to see what everyone's been talking about and alluding too after all these years was marvelous.
The stories, twelve in all, are written with such an understated affect. I shamelessly mined the internet for decent critiques afterward to help me understand the import of what I'd read. My favorites are "Araby", "Eveline" and of course "The Dead,": all ones that I easily related to. The fact that they ALL end sadly, that there is such despair, that their growth as humans so stunted, so...so...paralyzed was simply haunting. Such spare little works, such a depth of meaning.
I assigned my classes a book report. They are due this week. Hah! They have to create something; I gave them eight choices, a poem based on a theme of their book; a comic strip that relates key ideas; a map of important places in the story; design costumes for characters, etc. I thought about doing the map, but in the end was challenged to write a poem. I felt foolish, because of course, nothing I write will even remotely have the depth of symbolic meaning that Joyce is able to pack in his writing, almost offhandedly. It simply takes one's breath away.
So, there is structure. There is a death in the first stanza, and an impending one in the last. The first two stanzas have to do with childhood, the middle one, youth, the last one, adulthood. There is betrayal and the church, and I'll leave you to find those, and make of it all what you will.
This poem, by the way, while it does have elements from my life, is not a "confessional." It was written in a deliberative manner and style that is supposed to reflect that of "The Dubliners," and while I hope there is feeling in it, it wasn't written to assuage mine.
The Anger and The Anguish
The cat spent the day
tiny and frail,
still she tipped her head up hopefully at me
as she followed me from room to room
I felt she might fall apart in my arms
would that she were a wafer I could place on my tongue
My father my brother
and I wedged in between
We're driving to a place
with a tall fence
dropping off an inconvenient animal
Who, I believe, will come home to us one day
and still I cry
silent tears slipping down
Will you, will you go with me?
Will you dance with me?
quiet girl with gypsy dreams
and the answer, wedged between my anger and my anguish
no, and no, and no, and no
but when I connive with myself
to break away
to make a new union
and three hearts broken
a kiss for you my sweet, and you and you
Come home come home
the old woman beckons
but her heart, too,
is left, bereft
by young fleet and selfish feet
Sitting in the dark
talking softly to myself
The Lord have mercy on my soul