Recently started my second semester back to college in an attempt to complete a higher level of education. I currently have an Associates of Arts and have always worked in Graphic Design but it’s time to consider a new career path. I’ve enjoyed the insight level of my English professor this semester and thought I’d share some interpretations of different poems that have been assigned. Have you ever heard of any of these poems before?
“Welcome to Hiroshima” by Mary Jo Salter
We readers immediately get a sense that Mary J Salter believes the “Welcome to Hiroshima” museum is constructed in poor taste. She eloquently explains her repulsion for the tragedy by poetically expressing that a museum should be a showcase for positive experiences and that such a site would serve more effectively as a memorial. She’s turned off immediately by the consumption of the experience and describes the visit as though she is in a freak show where tickets and refreshments are sold as opposed to a commemoration of innocent life lost due to human disagreement.
is what you first see, stepping off the train:
a billboard brought to you in living English
by Toshiba Electric. While a channel
silent in the TV of the brain
projects those flickering re-runs of a cloud
that brims its risen columnful like beer
and, spilling over, hangs its foamy head,
you feel a thirst for history: what year
it started to be safe to breathe the air,
and when to drink the blood and scum afloat
on the Ohta River. But no, the water’s clear,
they pour it for your morning cup of tea
in one of the countless sunny coffee shops
whose plastic dioramas advertise
mutations of cuisine behind the glass:
a pancake sandwich; a pizza someone tops
with a maraschino cherry. Passing by
the Peace Park’s floral hypocenter (where
how bravely, or with what mistaken cheer,
humanity erased its own erasure),
you enter the memorial museum
and through more glass are served, as on a dish
of blistered grass, three mannequins. Like gloves
a mother clips to coatsleeves, strings of flesh
hang from their fingertips; or as if tied
to recall a duty for us, Reverence
the dead whose mourners too shall soon be dead,
but all commemoration’s swallowed up
in questions of bad taste, how re-created
horror mocks the grim original,
and thinking at last They should have left it all
you stop. This is the wristwatch of a child.
Jammed on the moment’s impact, resolute
to communicate some message, although mute,
it gestures with its hands at eight-fifteen
and eight-fifteen and eight-fifteen again
while tables of statistics on the wall
update the news by calling on a roll
of tape, death gummed on death, and in the case
adjacent, an exhibit under glass
is glass itself: a shard the bomb slammed in
a woman’s arm at eight-fifteen, but some
three decades on—as if to make it plain
hope’s only as renewable as pain,
and as if all the unsung
debasements of the past may one day come
rising to the surface once again—
worked its filthy way out like a tongue.
“London” by William Blake
This poem gives us insight into William Blake’s opinion of London. He obviously pays attention to the depressed expressions of the people around him and comments on the sadness of the lower classes of society. He even remarks that blood runs down the palace wall, which gives us the impression that even places of luxury are marked with hapless tragedy. He’s obviously sad and lonely and views the dirty city through a lens that personally gives me a strong appreciation for modern plumbing.
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse
“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
When reading Ozymandias I can see the sand covered Sphinx in Cairo and also think about the following passage from Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, “For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.” (NASB)
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
“Titanic” by David Slavitt
All humans are born with a capacity for understanding and the broad range of society shares several topics and experiences. Most people born on earth in the 21st century are educated on shared common knowledge such as Santa, Jesus, and the Titanic and since so many people seem to be consumed with the story of such a shocking ship sinking on its maiden voyage, we can’t help but look to the ice cold waters of the Atlantic as a balm. We try to reduce the fear and suffering of those individuals by consoling ourselves with the hope that they suffered very little due to the anesthetic numbing of the extreme frigid temperature. How did something get so large? It must have been greatly considered and other ships in the harbor must have envied its luxury.
Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?
To go down… We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!
And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.
Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anesthetic and very quick.
the cries on all sides must be a comfort.
We all go: only a few, first class.