Feb 9, 2013
The Prelude by Matthew Zapruder : Poetry Magazine
From time to time, visitors’ comments get me all wound up, because they open new windows onto a poem, and I use those comments and my responses as a post unto themselves. This is such a day. Lucky you.
I just said to a friend that sometimes I weary of blogging, but I realize that it leads me to new poems and poets, and it usually makes me like the poems better as I look at them more carefully. Zapruder’s “The Prelude” is a case in point.
Add to that the comments I get from readers—whole new humans opening up aspects of the poem that I hadn’t considered, and sometimes aspects of themselves—I tell you, it’s better than NASCAR, and I bet it’s better than crack.
Speaking of a need for artificial stimulation . . .
So many, many times I’ve heard teachers, parents and other putatively caring adults who need to tone down their advice-giving to young people who have stalled, or gotten into real trouble. Instead simply asking, then asking again, searching for specifics, “What do you like? What would you rather be doing? How can we work that into a course of study and, with some luck, a career? I don’t care if Mommy’s a CEO. If you like woodworking, let’s look into that.”
But in a sad miracle, the talk—it’s not a conversation—stops at, “You have to do better . . . because I said so.”
I predict the geezer will toss out 20 times as many words as the teen. What are the teen’s options, beyond being overwhelmed and probably resentful and maybe enraged? Oh, he may obey, but look it up: obedience is not a synonym for cure.
End of Sidebar. Beginning of Comments, Yours and Mine.
Brenda's Arizona said...
B and AH, about the poem, what you say is the way I see it. I seem to remember that Wordsworth’s hikes were considerable. I followed one of his routes in the Lake District, and it was much more than a stroll in those almost-mountains. Maybe he really was more adventurous than Coleridge—or Zapruder.
I was at first curious that Coleridge’s “love of friends” wasn’t more comfort than it was, but Zapruder, ever the poet, adds more threatening stuff: “love of friends and the wind.” Oh, that wind.
And there’s more. The wind is “taking his arrow away.” Is it a phallic arrow? Whether or not, it’s his edge, and most of us would say, I think, that we want our edge (as well as our “ease”—face it, we want it all).
Do you think the last two lines hint at suicide? If so, is that too “big” for a poem that opens with Diet Coke?
The more I read this thing, the more I like it. I’ve said umpteen times here (not that it’s original) that poems almost always need to offer surprises (sometimes “gifts”) along the way. In that context, compare the tone and mood of the first two lines with the last two lines. Talk about a journey!
And that thorough analysis of chocolate, leading into vapor (“nothing”), then back to a field and finally to “ham and rustic chambered cheese”—I hear a dialectic between airy nothing and richly sensuous items, items of appetite and delight, culminating in chocolate.
I’m also drawn to the almost confessional mode of his wishing to be “at least a little more than intermittently/at ease with being loved. I am never at ease.” That has a peculiar power for me. Is it just me?
Even in terms of grammar and syntax, how does Zapruder get away with the gangly “at least a little more than intermittently”? But the speaker is something of a brainiac, and brainiacs say stuff like that. Or at least they think it.
Did anyone see baseball on the horizon? But it fits. It’s the more common pleasure to accompany his more “poetic” and neurotic items like the hallway and time? What’s bigger than time? What’s more ordinary than baseball? How do we get them into the same poem? Zapruder does, and for me that’s a happy surprise, a gift.