Monday, November 28, 2005

The Dreadful Has Already Happened

The Dreadful Has Already Happened
by Mark Strand

The relatives are leaning over, staring expectantly.
They moisten their lips with their tongues. I can feel
Them urging me on. I hold the baby in the air.
Heaps of broken bottles glitter in the sun.

A small band is plaing old fashioned marches.
My mother is keeping time by stamping her foot.
My father is kissing a woman who keeps waving
To someone else. There are palm trees.

The hills are spotted with orange flamboyants and tall
Billowy clouds move beyond them. "Go on, Boy,"
I hear somebody say, "Go on."
I keep wondering if it will rain.

The sky darkens. There is thunder.
"Break his legs," says one of my aunts,
"Now give him a kiss." I do what I'm told.
The trees bend in the bleak tropical wind.

The baby did not scream, but I remember that sigh
When I reached inside for his tiny lungs and shook them
Out in the air for the flies. The relatives cheered.
It was about that time I gave up.

Now, when I answer the phone, his lips
Are in the receiver, when I sleep, his hair is gathered
Around a familiar face on the pillow; wherever I search
I find his feet. He is what is left of my life.

I found this poem extremely interesting. It was somewhat hard to decipher, but I took it as a metaphor for a coming of age inside the speaker. I do not think that he is literally tearing a baby's lungs out, but rather growing up in the painful growth to maturity where he is murdering his own innocence and childish side of himself as his older family members are urging him on to merely grow up. I like how the first four stanzas end with a very vivid natural image, taking us away from the scene and into a pacific natural setting. But the image also develops. At first, there is pure sun, then palm trees emerge. I do not know if this comes to the typical reader, but when I see palm trees, I see sunset, and I see wind. Then the speaker brings rain into the scene in the third stanza. In the fourth, he literally brings the wind into the scene. It is as if he is bringing the storm that is the child growing up to this beautiful place of innocence.


Blogger Esther said...

I enjoyed reading this poem because of the picture that the speaker creates. In describing the scenery as well as the characters throughout the poem, the speaker is able to bring a connection with the reader and the poem. I like how the diction throughout the poem seems to be very descriptive, such as "orange flamboyants and tall Billowy clouds." When the poem also says "'Break his legs,'" it just seems so graphic, but later on the reader understands the meaning of it.

2:31 PM  

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