Jan 2, 2010

Another Parenting Poem: "Mutterings over the Crib of a Deaf Child" by James Wright

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Mutterings over the Crib of a Deaf Child by James Wright

I've been disappointed in the less than voluminous response to Hicok's "O my pa-pa" two days ago. Is today's James Wright poem more pleasing? A more reasonable argument?

I've never felt sure who the two speakers are. Father and mother seem the most likely identities, but there are a couple of spots where that seems off the point.

Do "Mutterings" and Hicok's "O my pa-pa" have anything in common with each other, or with Grace Paley's "Walking in the Woods"?

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Mutterings over the Crib of a Deaf Child by James Wright

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Anonymous said...

Oh, this may take awhile. Is the other voice god? Or nature?

Banjo52 said...

Interesting! All of the reassuring replies use nature as a basis (including the jolting "He will learn pain," you could say. Birds learn it; foxes learn it). And ditto a god--cool, calm, collected. This is all part of the plan, etc.

Another possibility somebody mentioned years ago (in an article maybe) is an interior dialogue within one speaker, somewhat like Prufrock, I guess.

Is this much ambiguity from Wright OK? I've never felt confident about answering that either.

Brenda's Arizona said...

How many times are we allowed to read this before our access is denied? Wow. What a heart wretching poem. It does seem like parents talking - or a mother with her own mother - a woman of an older generation who doubts a deaf child can be integrated.

Yet an internal discussion/
argument is valid. Don't you have internal discussions like this (okay, not about a deaf child) all the time? I do - what route to take home today, what the chances are of missing something, even what book to read next. Yak yak yak, doubting my own opinion.

Anyway, I can just hear a Grandmother taking the argumentative role. A hopeful daughter, a doubtful grandma. And a child who could be each's joy - but their doubts still ensue.

Ouch. My heart is twisting, Mr. B52!
p.s. - do you listen to Writer's Almanac or seek them out yourself?

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, you raise another interesting possibility. But also what about the reverse? A hardened grandma who's not the alarmist her daughter (son?) is. Pipe down, dearie; it'll be OK.

I've never considered the voice identities you and AH have brought to the table. Thank you.

(Did you also bring fried chicken?)

As for finding the poems, this one I knew, thanks to one of those damnable Writer's Conferences many years ago--the celebrity handed it out for discussion.

I haven't explored the Garrison Keillor site very much, but I want to. However, I have been scouting the Poetry Foundation site. So far, all my selections have been poems I was looking for, but those two sites are well worth exploring--a wealth of stuff. Some excellent commentary as well on Poetry Foundation.

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