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In January Analysis

Author: poem of Ted Kooser Type: poem Views: 17

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Only one cell in the frozen hive of night

is lit, or so it seems to us:

this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,

its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.

Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.

Beyond the glass, the wintry city

creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.

A great wind rushes under all of us.

The bigger the window, the more it trembles.


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

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Some people may see the city depicted in the poem as cold and creepy. This is because of the rushing wind, the creaking bridge and the trembling windows. But that image is only a cover over the true meaning of the peom. The fact that this image is only a cover is backed by the line "Only one cell in the frozen hive of night/ is lit, or so it seems to us:".
This line tells us that even though the city seems frozen, there is more than just a barren landscape. The Vietnamese cafe seems like a the only living thing in the city, but what the cafe is really doing is speading its warmth and energy throughout the entire town. The oily light, the colorful oders and the life of the cafe fill the coty with an invisible energy.
Now, think about this -- if a city was comletly entirely fozen, would it be able to move? no. it would be completly immobile. it would be frozen solid into a block of frozen city. If a wind rushed through a frozen city, there would be no sound, no rattling, because everything would be frozen in place. The only sound would be the sound of whisling wind.
Back to the poem -- the wind is the next clue that Ted Kooser gives us about the poem. It is also helful to notice that whenever Kooser is dropping hints throughout this poem, he breaks away from the narrative to mention "us". To make us notice the rushing wind, he says "A great wind rushes under all of us." Similarly he used "us" in the "so it seems" line as well. These two lines are the ones that tells us that soemthind deeper is going on in the poem.
When the wind rushes, it causes the windows to tremble. And we've just read a line about a creaking city that is like an ancient bridge. These are sounds -- sounds in a frozen city. What we can deduce from this is the the city is indeed, not frozen. It is filled with the energy from the cafe, which gives it the ability to move.
So what we have come to is that the city isnt frozen, even though in the beginning it seemed that way. so what? well, what this poem shows is that a small cafe, in the cold, icy, concrete jungle, can still bring life to the entire city. It shows how those warm, fuzzy feelings can spread. And how the world is full of love :D.

| Posted on 2009-05-31 | by a guest

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