Tuesday, January 09, 2007

From James Merrill's "Oranges" (Commonplace Book)

Segment by segment, nonetheless a mind
Made up of taste and sunlight. May the blind
Gods who drink its juice be satisfied,
Disposing gently of the empty rind.
What I like about those lines is the way the first sentence is so sweet, then in the same line it goes suddenly dark. They admit a very dark evil, but also just hope evil will unintentionally nice, since perhaps we are too small to care about. I also like how "blind Gods" is split across two lines; the appearance of the word "Gods" is more surprising, and, because it is at the beginning of the line, it is capitalized, making whether these are "gods" or "Gods" ambiguous.

5 comments:

Jonathan said...

I never understood the reason for capitalizing the first word of every line.

In my MFA poetry workshop classes half of the class does not capitalize the first word in each line (myself included). The other half does capitalize, but let it be known that two of them said that they did so because Microsoft Word forces it upon them.

I do agree it adds a nice mystery to Merrill's poem.

I am curious what you know about this mystery.

Geoff Klock said...

I think tradition is a big reason why many people capitalize the first line, though certainly you can go ether way. That's funny about Word though.

I do not think I understand your last sentence. Are you asking me if I can clear up the ambiguity? Or to say more about it?

Steven Eks said...

I really like your interpretation of these four lines--I really like the medial caesura in line 2; it creates a very heavy pause, keeping with the pentameter and the rhyme scheme--a playfulness--frivolous yet brooding--almost like a "BAH!" of contempt at the satisfied Gods.

I'm adding a link to your blog on my blog--if that's okay with you, Geoff.

Steve Ekstrom
eksfactor.blogspot.com

btw, I HATE that word does the auto-cap function and I turn it off when I'm working on poems.

Geoff Klock said...

Of course you can link -- I will link to you as well (don't let me forget though).

Bonita said...

Thanks for writing this.