Monday, January 6, 2020

An Analysis of Wilburs Mayflies Essay - 1590 Words

An Analysis of Wilburs Mayflies Richard Wilburs recent poem Mayflies reminds us that the American Romantic tradition that Robert Frost most famously brought into the 20th century has made it safely into the 21st. Like many of Frosts short lyric poems, Mayflies describes one persons encounter with an ordinary but easily overlooked piece of naturein this case, a cloud of mayflies spotted in a sombre forest(l.1) rising over unseen pools(l.2),made surprisingly attractive and meaningful by the speakers special scrutiny of it. The ultimate attraction of Wilburs mayflies would appear to be the meaning he finds in them. This seems to be an unremittingly positive poem, even as it glimpses the dark subjects of human†¦show more content†¦17). More surprising yet, though surely emblems of the ephemeral (of the order ephemeroptera), they suggest by their choreographed life an interconnectivity in nature that transcends an individual?s mortality. Indeed, in the third and final stanza they become a foil for the spea ker?s own sense of ?separateness? and mortality ?as night close[s] in?(l.18). At a literal level the poem all along insists on the speaker?s separation, as ?witness?(l. 9), from this ?manifold/ And figured scene?(ll. 13-14). To see the dance so well, he has had to be stationed outside it. This exclusion, it would seem, is the poet?s classic occupational hazard. Yet this darker revelation is quickly eclipsed by one last happy irony, a revelation of sorts: the poem so artfully represents it subject, its conspicuous ingenuities of form so undulate and glitter like the mist of mayflies, that the poem itself becomes the mayflies?or means to come as close as language can take it. As a special way of seeing, the poem means to breech the gulf between seer and thing seen and thus forge a connection to the object world, the speaker?s own absence from which he ostensibly laments. That this attempt is successful seems implicit in the last lines of the poem. There, it occurs to the speaker that his sense of separateness and mortality can be allayed by the idea that he has been ?called? to be a poetic seer, ?one whose task is joyfully to see/ How fair

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