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To The Muse Analysis

Author: poem of James Wright Type: poem Views: 7

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It is all right.  All they do

Is go in by dividing

One rib from another.  I wouldn't

Lie to you.  It hurts

Like nothing I know.  All they do

Is burn their way in with a wire.

It forks in and out a little like the tongue

Of that frightened garter snake we caught

At Cloverfield, you and me, Jenny

So long ago.

I would lie to you

If I could.

But the only way I can get you to come up

Out of the suckhole, the south face

Of the Powhatan pit, is to tell you

What you know:

You come up after dark, you poise alone

With me on the shore.

I lead you back to this world.

Three lady doctors in Wheeling open

Their offices at night.

I don't have to call them, they are always there.

But they only have to put the knife once

Under your breast.

Then they hang their contraption.

And you bear it.

It's awkward a while.  Still it lets you

Walk about on tiptoe if you don't

Jiggle the needle.

It might stab your heart, you see.

The blade hangs in your lung and the tube

Keeps it draining.

That way they only have to stab you

Once.  Oh Jenny.

I wish to God I had made this world, this scurvy

And disastrous place.  I

Didn't, I can't bear it

Either, I don't blame you, sleeping down there

Face down in the unbelievable silk of spring,

Muse of the black sand,


I don't blame you, I know

The place where you lie.

I admit everything.  But look at me.

How can I live without you?

Come up to me, love,

Out of the river, or I will

Come down to you.


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

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Such a dark, rich loam in which the meaning of this poem puts down roots. There is Eden and Eve here (dividing one rib from another, the snake in Cloverfield, and the Milton reference: \"How Can I live without you, how forego thy sweet converse and love so dearly joined.\") there is Orpheus (I lead you back to this world), there is birth and disease and of course the muses, those three \"lady doctors\" who are probably abortionists (not Doctors who are ladies, but \"lady doctors\", one a muse who cuts a cord -- and consider another Wright poem in which Jenny \"left her new baby in a bus station can and sprightly danced away...\")
These are dark musings, the hint of the suicidal despair, that resolve in Wright\'s later poetry. I draw a direct line between the desperation in the ending of this, the homage to the unresolved love of Jenny, about whom he still had \"the east wind to say\" -- and \"The Quest,\" the dedication in his collected works to Annie, and the balance with which it ends: \"And know the world immeasurably alive and good/Though bare as rifted paradise.\"
Two different muses, one buried in the dark, one resolved with darkness.
--Brian Fitzterald

| Posted on 2010-11-10 | by a guest

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