[Analysis] « Details of the Woods » by Richard Siken

« I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything. »

 


 

[thoughts]

The first time I read this poem, I felt strangely moved, even quite shaken, but didn’t really grasp the meaning of it. I felt as if something else -something bigger- went on behind the words and I felt its might without seeing it.

I found out, reading Richard Siken’s poems (I recommend Details of the Woods but also his prose poem Language of the Birds, which I find marvelling) that I do like contemporary English and American poetry very much. I sensed it quite a while ago, while reading and translating William Carlos Williams or Lyn Hejinian, but reading and loving a third contemporary poet right on the spot proved my point.

Just as I realized it, I also found out I like contemporary poetry because I can never quite grasp the meaning of it right away.
I have this feeling– that if I want to go on analyze the poem, I can, and I will be allowed to see its might properly; but if I don’t want to see and prefer to just wonder without knowing (and wondering without knowing is a beautiful concept in itself), I can just as well. I think this is a rare double-option. I am amazed by it.

(Then again, I find myself amazed with many small things in life, but it doesn’t spare the beauty of it all.)

Tonight I allowed myself to go a little further and analyze what I read. It’s more of an impression than a true analyze but I want to write it down so I don’t forget it.

 


 

[analysis]

One possible meaning of the poem resides entirely on the sentence: « Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. »
The whole poem is about finding your own place, outside of someone else; be able to stand as a whole. Be able to be independant, or to grow out of someone’s grasp. Maybe about going out of an abusive relationship– but maybe just about being you and not living through another person.

« I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do. »

The poet, right here, has just found his own place, symbolized by the woods. He came there, maybe by accident, and just stands there, slowly realizing and contemplating how it feels to be alone. He has never felt this way -not in a long time at least- and finds himself estranged to this newborn solitude.

« A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless. »

My opinion is, this box (‘made out of leaves’, which, contrary to the trees, won’t grow for they have already died) keeps all memories of his previous relationship, where he lived through his partner. Along with his memories, his heart is already in the woods; it’s his mind (himself) that has to go the way.
His heart is closing, because he doesn’t get to be himself anymore. But the « nevertheless » links this stanza to the following one. There is a solution to your uneasiness:

« Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon. »

There. There is the solution. You have to find the strength to look out to your own place, and settle down there, or you will get overwhelmed by the other. You have to exist by yourself.
But it’s hard to realize that all at once, and so the poet/narrator keeps his mind of something else– the moon, which doesn’t seem very comforting but is at the same time charactized (almost personified) as the ‘long nights moon’, the one that kept him company when he couldn’t sleep. Like all of us, in times of trouble, he focuses on the familiar.

« From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale. »

I still don’t really get these verses, but I think he is finally trying the woods as they are, what surrounds him and what is already dead — maybe his relationship is, while his inner self -the trees- is growing, verdant. He derives from this impression a sense of scale, of size: finally, he becomes aware of his own self and its proportion (it’s not just somebody’s other body part).

« I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.
Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything. »

He lets go of the relationship he still held on to, and feels he has accomplished something here.
Still, ‘everything casts a shadow’: the memory of that relationship and the love still remains, and they are the transition to the last verse:
Even the body of his previous lover told him it’s never been afraid of anything. It’s in a dream, which is poetically speaking the vision of the ideal: what you could develop from this is, ‘in a dream, you told me you’ve never been afraid of anything, and I shouldn’t either.’ He’s reversed and retrieved even his most painful memory (his lover) and turned it into a inspirational dream. He is ready to let go and exist on his own: he’s made the memories his own, and they can’t hurt him anymore.

 

Publicités

l’absente.

les ongles poussent,
les cils tombent
le temps passe en silence, comme un vêtement jeté au sol
plein de froissures invisibles

tu pousses
ton regard sur moi comme une étreinte
du lierre grimpant, suturant les plaies salées
vert tout vert

tu pousses
comme pousse la pluie après le soleil
comme le temps pousse l’aiguille vers la droite
comme les pieds d’Ariane la poussent à fuir

tu pousses
dans mon esprit tu prends de la place
comment faire pour t’éviter une seconde
mon âme, mon âme, mon labyrinthe

tu débordes
de moi ; des mots inintelligibles, des muscles crispés, des frontières
je ne sais plus où te mettre
tu te plais à ne pas me contempler

les ongles cassent.
il me faudra redessiner les contours de mon cerveau ce soir
pour ne plus m’y perdre

 

 

06.08.17

Parler (2) ~ Philippe Jaccottet

enjambées fauves

.

.

.

Chacun a vu un jour (encore aujourd’hui on cherche à nous cacher jusqu’à la vue du feu)
ce que devient la feuille de papier près de la flamme,
comme elle se rétracte, hâtivement, se racornit,
s’effrange… Il peut nous arriver cela aussi,
ce mouvement de retrait convulsif, toujours trop tard,
et néanmoins recommencé pendant des jours,
toujours plus faible, effrayé, saccadé,
devant bien pire que du feu.

Car le feu a encore une splendeur, même s’il ruine,
il est rouge, il se laisse comparer au tigre
ou à la rose, à la rigueur on peut prétendre,
on peut s’imaginer qu’on le désire
comme une langue ou comme un corps ;
autrement dit, c’est matière à poème
depuis toujours, cela peut embraser la page
et d’une flamme soudain plus haute et plus vive
illuminer la chambre jusqu’au lit ou au jardin
sans vous brûler — comme si, au contraire,
on était dans…

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Ecrire pour l’oeil ou pour la bouche

JE PRENDS MA RETRAITE

Depuis que j’ai commencé à te raconter cette histoire, je ne fouille pas que ma mémoire. Je passe des heures dans les cartons, à rechercher des pièces à conviction, et ce que je retrouve n’est jamais ce que je crois avoir gardé.

Je viens de tomber sur un paquet de conducteurs (le conducteur, c’est la trame de l’émission couchée sur du papier, ce dont on se sert au micro mais aussi en régie, pour savoir quand il faut envoyer un son, une chanson…).

Ce sont ceux de « Par monts et par mots », l’émission qui remplace « A mots découverts » sur la grille d’été de Radio Bleue en 98.

C’est un projet qui n’est pas du tout adapté aux moyens dont nous disposons, et en décidant de le mener à bien, je nous impose un travail de titan, à Françoise et à moi.

L’idée, c’est de piocher dans les émissions des trois…

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