Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Letter of the Floating World

I owe you an apology.  It's been far too long since I posted a poem.  Mea culpa.  Here we are examining knowledge and I have sorely neglected your need for close reading practice.  Fear not, noble knowers!  Here, via our old friend 3 Quarks Daily, is a powerful, subtle, and complicated verse for your perusal.  Please think and write about the effects of the point of view and voice(s), the allusive assumptions the author makes (research as needed), and of course the impacts of metaphor on you.  Conclude with a statement of meaning (authorial intent) for the poem.  Do this, please, for Monday 6 August and I will do the same from Michigan's Thumb.


  1. I really liked the poem, but I’m taking a shot in the dark here: The first thing that I found so interesting about the poem was that I could picture what was going on, even though the structure of the poem alone proves that the actions taking place demand great attention. As I read the poem, I pictured the perspective to be one of a female. This might be because I am also a girl, but also because as the narrator reads the poem, they touch their lips and hair tucked behind one ear. The fact that the narrator’s hair is long enough to be tucked behind one ear is an allusive assumption that the narrator is female. Another allusive assumption made is that the person writing the letter has money because he has a servant. The impacts of the metaphor from the poem on me show that the narrator is very passionate about the letter- not only passionate about the content within the letter, but also about the person writing it. This is why I think that the next morning letter might be a love letter to the girl from her lover who has left. As the girl reads the letter, she imagines the man writing it and going about his daily rituals/habits until it reaches her. This helps give context to the poem and allow readers to enter the narrator’s mind, which might be the authorial intent for the poem- to share with readers the passion that a piece of writing from a dear one can evoke.

  2. Like Sara-Sara, I could clearly picture the poem- almost like a video with subtitles describing the actions. I also really took note of the breaks in the lines- one specific moment was:
    "The cry of the stag
    is so

    That part really reminded me of what the higher level English class did for poetry. I did do a little research on the author and found that it is thought that she was either schizophrenic or bipolar. I found this to be incredibly interesting as the stanzas or phrases were very jumpy and didn't always connect though they normally did.
    I believe one thing the author assumes is that the reader would know that clematises and maples are both actually native and or found to/in Asian countries. Two things I really didn't know. I had previously assumed that maples were a North American species but I was pleasantly surprised. This being said, one could guess the location or setting for this poem could possibly be in the Eastern hemisphere as opposed to the Western. By using two species both of which could be found in separate locations, the reader is allowed accurately picture the setting in several parts of the world.

  3. Before I started reading the poem, I was attract by the photo on the right side, and then, when I read the poem, it reminds me of some ancient Japanese stories. And as I search for the poet Margaret Gibson, I found out that she "speaks about the Japanese art that inspired her to write them"(Blackbird Feature, Margaret Gibson,June 14, 2002). As I read the poem, I picture myself as the character in the Japanese painting. The poem shows some sadness when the character(s) describe their relationships, and it is obvious the emotion that the narrator holds is sort of lonely, desperate and full of emptiness.

    1. Cite:

  4. Like my other TOK mates, I could picture the poem clearly as well; having a picture next to the poem was also easier to create an image in my head of this poem. When thinking about the different point of views/voices, I could only identify one which I also pictured as a female (like Sara-Sara) maybe because I am a female. But it was interesting because she was describing her own actions and surroundings while also talking about another person who I assumed to be a man because the narrator refers to the other person saying “your white robe, falling open”. At first, an allusive assumption the author made was that the person the narrator was talking about was writing a letter, because at first I thought he/she was painting. The narrator refers to the letter, “As your brush passes over the paper” and I instantly assumed painting because in this time period people generally write letters with pens or pencils; and paint with a brush. I guess this threw me off a bit, but the way the narrator also talks about her and the other person, give me a feeling of separation, almost like the two don’t have many moments left together in the summer.

  5. As I read the poem, the narrator seemed to be a girl due to the fact that the poem seemed very sentimental, the narrator is able to tuck her hair behind her ears, and because she implied to the letter writer as her “teacher”- giving him a masculine figure. The author also assumed that the readers knew sutras, clematis and washbasins were; both of which gave the poem a foreign point of view. I concluded the poem to be base on a long distant relationship. The woman uses metaphors to give more meanings to the letter.

  6. The poem really succeeds in pulling the reader into it. You can almost feel yourself diving in the gracefulness of it, as well as the divinity in it. This is the beauty of poems and metaphors, they make us as the reader live it without us being fully conscient of it. This poem also reminded me of my own summer, the slow pace at which life goes on, and how everything just seem delicate. The narrator in the poem seems to be directly speaking to the reader. Almost as if the reader was in the relationship with the reader.

  7. This poem, at first sight, is difficult to interpret due to it's complex language and use of metaphor. But like my classmates have pointed out, the writing pulls us into the narrative. We can see a young woman imagining how this love letter has been created (being the allusive assumption that this letter is in fact a love letter):

    "I close my
    eyes to see

    your white robe, falling open

    as you call for your scroll
    and ink stone, a brush"

    The powerful yearning of the narrator to be with the writer of this letter, is clearly expressed throughout the poem. An allusive assumption could be that the two lovers are separated by a great distance:

    "the echo answers

    from the empty mountains
    as if it were a doe
    I tell
    you only what you know"

    The word clematis is used quite often in this poem. It is "a climbing plant of the buttercup family that bears white, pink, or purple flowers and feathery." (Mac Dictionary) This plant is therefore a metaphor. For one, clematis represents this far off lover. The fact that it is climbing could represent, the lover reaching as far as he can to touch his love. His letter is so vivid and so powerful that it is as if he is reaching out to her through the paper. Clematis is the scent of their love. So through the use of metaphor, the authorial intent is for the reader to feel that unique love and imagine the smell of this plant to paint a picture in our minds.

  8. As I read the poem I thought of a woman who was left behind by a man. At first I thought it was like the morning after a date where the man stays over and then leaves in the morning. Then I read TO’s comment where she said that she felt the poem expressed “sadness when the character(s) describe their relationships…” That kind of experience whether it was a negative (in a sense where the man left her never to speak to her again) or positive (where he has to leave but will come back to her) anyone would feel alone and sad. The woman may even feel depressed. I also agree with TO when she said “emotion that the narrator holds is sort of lonely, desperate and full of emptiness.”
    In the poem where it says
    “I close my
    eyes to see
    your white robe, falling open”
    It shows that the woman is remembering how she last saw the man. That could lead to sad, lonely, and depressed emotions which is what I’m getting from the poem as a reader. An allusive assumption the narrator makes is that we know who the woman is talking to. The woman says words and describes situations that we should be able to relate to, but we can’t fully understand the way the woman does.


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