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The Player Piano Analysis

Author: poem of Randall Jarrell Type: poem Views: 14

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I ate pancakes one night in a Pancake House
Run by a lady my age. She was gay.
When I told her that I came from Pasadena
She laughed and said, "I lived in Pasadena
When Fatty Arbuckle drove the El Molino bus."

I felt that I had met someone from home.
No, not Pasadena, Fatty Arbuckle.
Who's that? Oh, something that we had in common
Like -- like -- the false armistice. Piano rolls.
She told me her house was the first Pancake House

East of the Mississippi, and I showed her
A picture of my grandson. Going home --
Home to the hotel -- I began to hum,
"Smile a while, I bid you sad adieu,
When the clouds roll back I'll come to you."

Let's brush our hair before we go to bed,
I say to the old friend who lives in my mirror.
I remember how I'd brush my mother's hair
Before she bobbed it. How long has it been
Since I hit my funnybone? had a scab on my knee?

Here are Mother and Father in a photograph,
Father's holding me.... They both look so young.
I'm so much older than they are. Look at them,
Two babies with their baby. I don't blame you,
You weren't old enough to know any better;

If I could I'd go back, sit down by you both,
And sign our true armistice: you weren't to blame.
I shut my eyes and there's our living room.
The piano's playing something by Chopin,
And Mother and Father and their little girl

Listen. Look, the keys go down by themselves!
I go over, hold my hands out, play I play --
If only, somehow, I had learned to live!
The three of us sit watching, as my waltz
Plays itself out a half-inch from my fingers.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Most noticeble is the straightforward, up front, conversational style which flows easily from memory to memory, a style that zooms candidly from the here and now to childhood and back. Mr. Jarrell's words are chosen to show exactly what he means. AT first they may seem thrown together or strung along in a sort of stream of consciousness fashion, but not so as each is precise, pointed. And yet, however precise and electic he may appear to be, his style is warm, deep, and human.
"The Player Piano" is structured to his meaning and style, no vagueness, no sudden dashes into past poetry, no godism, no having to search for his meaning. Each stanza gives a thought, a feeling, a warmness we relate to. The poet opens our minds and hearts and leaves us thinking. And, because, I know no other way to adequately express myself: I like it.
McQueen Hamilton Dillahey

| Posted on 2009-03-21 | by a guest

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