Here are eight of my poems:
1. Sunday School Dreams
2. Shuddering Eyes
3. A Scrappy Guy
4. Players ("Ted and Sylvia")
5. Paradise Interposed
6. Maple Leaf Clusters
7. Elijah's Sons
8. Yarrow School Reunion
More poems by Elmer Wiens: Mennonite Poetry.
Louise Glück — Can I Only Love That I Conceive?
While Louise Glück's narrators and characters change from one poem to another, a persona controls the themes and subjects of each book of poems. This persona imitates an oracular voice scored with another voice, two voices that undercut, support, follow up, and disagree with each other to produce the arc of the book's poems. The oracular voice combines Judeo-Christian religion and Greco-Roman mythology. The other voice is that of a woman at an explicit stage of her life. Replicating the maturation of this woman over time, Glück's sequence of books reveals her evolution as a poet. Poems occur within the span of time and place covered by a specific book. While any one poem can be interpreted on its own merit, the poems in these books reflect on each other, contributing to the narrative of the book as a whole. In the following paragraphs, I present my perceptions and interpretations of the poems in The Wild Iris and how they interact with one another.
Frank O'Hara — Rainbow Warrior.
In "Personism: A Manifesto" Frank O'Hara states that he locates "the poem squarely between the poet and the person" he addresses in the poem, having it "between two persons instead of two pages." By implication, the parts (objects) of the poem in relation to other parts, including any or no connections among them, are similarly located between the poet and the addressed person. An uninitiated reader of the poem, wanting to assimilate the poem's juxtaposed lines and phrases, tries to impute an association among them. Can he layer one object on another? Can he add the sense of two objects? Does one object negate another? What sense impression is left after performing an appropriate operation between the objects?
Apprehensions of Reality. "Cascando," by S. Beckett, and "Burnt Norton," by T. S. Eliot express the poets' desire for love and union: Beckett, desiring a woman, expresses his apprehension of their love, and Eliot, wanting divine revelation, expresses his apprehension of God's love in creating the universe. Read my essay, "Apprehensions of Reality," comparing and contrasting how Beckett and Eliot achieve their goals.
Ripe for Love. In her poem "Lanval," Marie de France shares a fantasy with her readers, telling the tale of a mysterious woman who journeys from a distant land to be with Lanval, a dishonored knight of King Arthur's Round Table. Eventually, the love of women as portrayed by Marie de France contributes to destroy the foundation of Europe's medieval institutions.
Expectations of Love.
The disparity in the outcomes of the hag's marriage and Alison's marriages in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" depends in part on the women's differing expectations of their husbands.
Time's Love Harvest.
Like the varying magnitudes of stars that distinguish the sky's constellations, infused with myths describing all degrees and types of love, the spondaic, trochaic, and pyrrhic substitutions of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 — denying Time's harvest of love — create a pattern of meaning that can be inferred by the discerning eye and mind.
England's Chaste Revelation.
In the First Book of The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser reveals his prophetic and apocalyptic vision for the fledgling British Empire, personified in his hero Redcrosse. He lays a basis for England's union of state and religion, conceptually separating these two functions to minimize their intersection, although inherent in one person.
Faustus' Utility Function.
Although Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has outclassed every one at Wittenberg with his academic studies, he is "still but Faustus, a man." Proud of his accomplishments, he desires to become a superman. He lusts for God's capability to "make men live eternally or being dead raise them to life again," believing the devil's arts of magic and necromancy can provide the power, honour, omnipotence and, most importantly, the wealth he craves.
Love and Marriage in Medieval and Renaissance Poetry. Medieval and Renaissance literature develops the concepts of love and marriage and records the evolution of the relation between them. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Christian love clashes with courtly love, as men and women grapple with such issues as which partner should rule in marriage, the proper, acceptable role of sex in marriage, and the importance of love as a basis for a successful marriage.
Narcissistic Eve and Uxorious Adam. When Eve eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in John Milton's Paradise Lost, her decision to tell Adam of her disobedience turns on two suppositions. If her transgression is kept secret from God, Eve's augmented knowledge might increase Adam's love for her, and perhaps cause her to be more equal or even superior to Adam. However, her death is assured if God has seen her wrongdoing. In this alternative, God may provide Adam with another woman, rendering Eve extinct.
Paradise Interposed. In John Milton's Paradise Lost, what happens to Adam during the morning after Eve suggests they divide their work and she leaves him alone? Does Adam keep working? Is he worried enough to search for Eve? Does he have a presentiment that Eve has fallen? Discover the startling events Milton left out of Paradise Lost in my poem Paradise Interposed.
P.I. Discussion. A Comparison of Paradise Lost and Paradise Interposed.