16 February 2011

Today we talked through your work on Bishop’s “Sestina.”  By popular demand, we will finish this work tomorrow in class (toast to Cece if you’re glad for that).

However, I’ve also asked you to choose one of these poems and do a manuscript/journal about it:

  • One Art
  • Those Winter Sundays

Here’s what I mean by manuscript/journal:

  1. Do the visual work on the text of the poem itself.
  2. Actually name and write out questions about the poem as we did for Sestina.
  3. In your journal, choose 2-3 of those questions and MAKE A CASE for an answer with EVIDENCE from the poem.

Matt and Ana both came up and asked for some assistance in improving journal writing.  I’m offering two things to address this:

1.  Today I began writing comments if there was a need for some change.  No comment, probably means no need for change.

2.  Tomorrow for part of the day we’ll have some group work going on.  During that time, I will meet with any students who want some more specific guidance on improving their journals.


14 thoughts on “16 February 2011

  1. About the analysis of the poem today: if we think that the tear drop buttons are buttons on a military uniform, then perhaps the child is with the grandmother because the parent (maybe father or something) has gone off to war. The grandmother would be sad that her child is in harms way and killing people, and it might also explain the picture. The child was proud of its picture, so maybe it was a picture of the parent (assuming the child is proud of the parent) or maybe it was a picture of the child’s future where it was saying “look grandma, I’m gonna join the military just like Daddy!”

    • I agree that the picuture is of the child saying that he/she wants to be in the military. But then when the grandmother ignores him/her, they draw another house, which I believe means another future or career path, that we the reader can’t see because it’s in the future.

  2. I agree with Abram. I think that the child wants to be just like his/her parent. That would also explain the half moons falling from the almanac, to symbolize that in time the child will to join the military and suffer the same fate as the parent did.

  3. Another interpretation for the drawing:
    The child drew himself in the future. The “rigid house” could be the safe, sturdy house. The winding pathway, like some people mentioned, would be the unclear way to get there. “Buttons like tears” because the man has suffered before from whatever reason the child’s at his grandparent’s house.
    I also think that the almanac and the stove represent two charachters. I think the almanac represents the future or fate…not necessarily a good thing, and the stove represents hope. in line 5, the almanac distracted the grandmother. While that could be viewed as a good thing, generally, people have to accept something tragic before they can move on and the Almanac is preventing that. In the second stanza, the Almanac predicted the rain, but also the grandmother’s tears, like it had known the future. The stove in line 11 makes the iron kettle sing and then in line 15, makes the tears dance. In line 19, the almanac hovers above the two people. That seems unatrual. Also, while it’s hovering above them, the grandmother shivers. The stove provided warmth to heat the two people. In lines 25 and 26, their two different views are expressed. “It was to be, says the Marvel Stove,” the stove accepted the tragedy, but the almanac, “I know what I know” is in present tense and hasn’t gotten past it yet. Little moons fall out of the almanac like tears and the almanac says it’s time to plant them. The tears fell in the flower bed in front of the “safe house” that represented the future. I think the tears are tragedies, and the almanac had planted them before and they have shown themselves at the moment of this poem; that’s how it could predict the grandmother’s tears. The grandmother sings to the stove. She’s happier when she’s around the stove.
    also, maybe the child draws another house because he senses that tears were planted around the first one.

    • well, you sure took everything I was going to say about the almanac and stove… But to add what I can, the almanac “hanging above the child” and birdlike… It reminds me of a predatory bird swooping down on it’s pray (the child.) And in this case, since the “bird” is the almanac, it is tragedy/grief that will metaphorically swoop down on the child. Also, since the in the same stanza the grandma feels chilly, the tragedy in store for the child could be death. Which is support for the idea that a parent of the child is in the army, because this parent us likely to die. Which returns us to the grandma hiding her tears: she knows/feels that the child’s parent is going to die, but doesn’t want the child to know yet. And in the first stanza where the grandma hides her tears, she is hiding her tears by reading jokes from the almanac! So she knows of this tragedy for sure, This is even said explicitly in the second stanza, that her tears were predicted by the almanac and “known to a grandma.” The “a” 1. brings attention to the phrase, implying that it is very important and 2. everything Juju said in class about the two grandmas

      Also, I want to make a statement: the phrase I started with “the old grandma hangs up the clever almanac on its string. Birdlike the almanac hovers open above the child…” …this phrase is the most important bunch of words in the WHOLE poem. These are the reasons: Elizabeth Bishop enjambed the phrase. She seemingly destroyed the sentence structure, and the only reason for this is that she wanted to bring attention to it. If she flagged the phrase so obviously, it must be important. Another reason I supply for the importance of this phrase, is that ALL of my interpretation is based on it. By focusing on the end of one sentence and beginning of another, I was able to produce what I think is a very large portion of what the author was conveying.

      On a final note, I feel like I could have continued (for example by discussing the use of “clever” to describe almanac) but that wouldn’t be discussion for lack of other participants. So feel free to comment and add. I know there is a lot still in the poem uncovered.

      P.S. I guess I still had stuff to write after Juju…

    • I agree with Juju here. I had interpreted the winding pathway and the inscrutable house as the future. The winding pathway, as we discussed, represents his path in life and the inscrutable house represents something that cannot be fully understood yet as it has not happened. This is just the way I interpreted it, but I’m sure there are many ways to look at this whole poem.

  4. So, I know this is kind of coming out of left field, but I’m really surprised nobody thought the almanac belonged to the deceased person (probably the fathers), which could be why so many of those corners were gone.

    • I agree that the almanac belongs to the deceased person, but I believe it’s the fate of the person/career path they choose which led them to their death.

  5. Aaaand I think the rigid house could really relate to what I was saying about the coldness of the house. There was a certain sadness in the house, and I believe this is what the child felt and thats what I think the writer means when he said ‘rigid’.

  6. I think that in line 37 when the poem says ‘time to plant tears, says the amanac.’ I think this means that the grandmother is going to ‘burry’ her sadness, like in the stanza before when the almanac ‘burries/plants’ the moonlike tears of pages. I also think that there is a change of mood after the fourth stanza, because there is less mention of tears and liquid then in the stanzas before and the grandma is being called the grandma instead of the old grandma. The change comes when the child draws the house.

  7. Along with everyone else I think that the man in the button is the childs father that is in the military, or has died in the military. The tear drop buttons and the way the child is so proud when he/she shows the picture to the grandmother gives me a sense that the child is proud and wants to grow up to be like him.
    I agree with Juju when she says that the stove represents hope. At the beginning of the poem there are signs such as september, cold, and tears that show sadness. After the grandmother puts wood in the stove the house should warm up taking and take the coldness in the house away. This could mean that the stove is taking some of the sadness away. In the last stanza bishop refers to the “marvelous stove” which could mean that the stove has brought something good to the grandmother.
    I think that the flower bed may also represent hope. When the little white moons fall into the flower bed it can be like time passing by. This can also be like planting a new beginning for the family.

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