Thursday, September 29, 2005

Week 1 Post 1



I grew up bent over a chessboard.
I loved the word endgame.
All my cousins looked worried.
It was a small house near a Roman graveyard.
Planes and tanks shook its window panes.
A retired professor of astronomy taught me how to play.
That must have been in 1944.
In the set we were using, the paint had almost chipped off the black pieces.
The white King was missing and had to be substituted for.
I’m told but do not believe that that summer I witnessed men hung from telephone poles.
I remember my mother blindfolding me a lot.
She had a way to tucking my head suddenly under her overcoat.
In chess, too, the professor told me, the masters play blindfolded, the great ones on several boards at the same time.

I like this poem because it fuses a happy memory with a tragic one. The author jumps back and forth from how he came to play chess to the war that was going on at the same time. His use of description is also interesting in that he does not come right out and say there was a war. Actually, he does not even say the word war in the whole poem. Yet, after the fifth line the reader knows what is going on. He also gives the year 1944 to point out what year he learned to play chess, but at the same time lets the reader know which war. My favorite part is the description of the pieces of his chess board because it seems very innocent and meager and at the same time one of the author’s greatest memories. He tells us of his situation without literally telling us, but rather describing his surroundings. He also writes about his mother blindfolding him and relates that at the end to how the greatest chess players always blindfolded. There is some connotation to the last line that says “the great ones on several boards at the same time” (440) and I do not understand that.


Blogger Lilan said...

My favorite part too is the contrasting imagery of the chess pieces to the violent war that's going on. I think your interpretation of the poem is really solid, and this poem was really interesting to read. I actually didn't get the last line either, and that's cool that you're honest in saying that it just didn't make sense to you.

4:16 PM  

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