41 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2015
    1. who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia

      Catatonia describes neurological immobility, and as we know that Ginsberg spent time in a mental hospital, this "symbolic pinpong table" may refer to one that they may have had for patients. Maybe Ginsberg did in fact overturn "only one" of these in an act of anger or frustration, and found it deeply "symbolic"

    2. who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

      We know that Denver became an important place for the beat generation, including Ginsberg. The repeated mention of Denver as a focal point in this stanza shows many different sides of it; as a place of inspiration and longing, and also a place of grief and possibly disappointment.

    3. who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg

      Another allusion to suicide. Also "meat trucks" and "egg" brings up the idea of the "chicken or the egg": in this case the speaker might be interpreted as searching for an origin of some kind, while the "meat" which has grown from it is killing him.

    4. who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels

      The description of "visionary indian angels" described as "visionary indian angels" is redundant and explains nothing, which implies that they are products of preconceived notions or cartoonish stereotypes

    5. a lost batallion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon

      Platonic means "confined to words," not taking action, so this "lost battalion of platonic conversationalists" could be interpreted as modern day armchair-activists who talk a lot about social problems but don't really do much. Them "jumping down the stoops…windowsills..." can be seen as a form of suicide caused by inaction in their lives.

  2. Nov 2015
    1. I Tiresias

      Image Description

      Tiresias was a Greek prophet who was cursed by the goddess Hera to become a woman for seven years, until he was changed back. Then he had the misfortune of being blinded by the goddess Athena (he seems to be a popular target for Greek goddesses) but is then given the gift of foreseeing the future.

      As a temporary woman and blind person, Tiresias has experienced exile in several ways. First he was "exiled" from his own masculinity, then he was "exiled" from sight. In the afterlife he faced true exile as a dead person, but he still was able to use his talents to help Odysseus escape from his own exile from his home and family.

      In the context of the poem, Tiresias can see the typist in her home and "foresuffered" her to be sexually assaulted by the house-agent's clerk.

      The typist herself appears exiled to an otherwise mundane life, aside from the assault in her home. Her home life is detailed extensively, describing how she eats ("food in tins"), her furniture, her drying laundry, and her clothes. Even after the unexpected sexual encounter with the clerk, the typist acts as if nothing happened ("Well not that's done: and I'm glad it's over.") This sense of understatement and self-denial is in itself a form of mental exile.

      Tiresias’ predicament is similar to another character from mythology alluded to in the poem: “The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king/So rudely forced; yet the nightingale/Filled all the desert with inviolable voice.” In Greek mythology Philomel was raped by her brother in law, King Tereus, who then kept her quiet about it by cutting to her tongue. Later she got her revenge and was turned into a nightingale who could then sing about all her sorrows. Like Tiresias, Philomel was exiled in several ways: first the loss of her tongue exiled her from the world of communication. And yet, she was still able to express what happened to her through weaving tapestry. Then, upon becoming a bird Philomel was able to fill the desert “with inviolable voice.” Like Tiresias, they both gained from their respective exiles to benefit others.

    2. Dayadhvam: I have heard the key Turn in the door once and turn once only We think of the key, each in his prison Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours  415 Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus

      Datta, Dayadhvam, and Damyata come from a Hindu fable of thunder. The three are meant to evoke the sound of thunder, and mean Giving, Compassion, and Control.

      In the poem, Dayadhvam (Compassion) says that "We think of the key, each in his prison/Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison." What is this "key" that Elliot talks about? It might be sort of an unattainable goal, a pipe-dream that alienates a person in trying to achieve it. By searching for a "key" to unlock something in one's life, one is admitting to feeling trapped, as in in a prison.

      Image Description

      Coriolanus was a Roman general who was exiled from Rome after proving an unpopular leader and later rallied an army to enact vengeance upon his former city.

      A possible relationship between Coriolanus and the "Key" may have to do with him being largely motivated by personal pride and the belief that he was a more suitable leader for Rome, rather than leave the decision to a popular vote. His ego left him "trapped" in his own prison, and his conquest for revenge was an attempt to find the key.

      What is the connection then between exile, pride, and Dayadhvam (Compassion)? Coriolanus in his pursuit of power obviously lacked “compassion,” and this led to his exile, his downfall. A similar instance of self-centered alienation appears in the Part I of the poem: “The Burial of the Dead,” where the speaker says “A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many/….And each man fixed his eyes before his feet./Flowed up the hill and down King William Street.” King William Street is a main financial district in London. These men “fix[ing] their eyes before [their] feet” could reflect those people fixated only on their careers and becoming disconnected from each other. The speaker calls out one of these men named Stetson, making an allusion to the Battle of Mylae which was fought between Rome and Carthage, also referring back to the Roman Coriolanus. The speaker asks Stetson: “That corpse you planted last year in your garden,/Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?” One could think that the speaker is asking if the Roman’s victory at Mylae was “worth it” after all, if the “corpse” that Stetson “planted” will ever “bloom” or grow into anything substantial. Given that corpses don’t do anything except rot in the ground, Stetson and the rest of the crowd can be seen as men pursuing empty goals and becoming exiled from their humanity in the process. The need for Dayadhvam becomes more apparent as they are each “confim[ing] [their] own prison[s]”

  3. Oct 2015
    1. The young men keep coming on The strong men keep coming on

      Recalls Philip levine's "They Feed they Lion." The repeated phrase of "strong men" sounds like a cryptic mantra in a similar vein to the "Lions" from Levine's poem

    2. ‘Thundered an’ lightened an’ the storm begin to roll Thousan’s of people ain’t got no place to go.

      Recalls the Great Mississippi flood (also alluded to in "When the Levee Breaks by Kansas Joe McCoy (not Led Zeppelin). The flood helped contribute to the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to bigger cities like Chicago in the early 20th century. The crowd listening to Ma Rainey's song likely understand or have experienced this catastrophe.

    3. An’ some folks sits dere waitin’ wid deir aches an’ miseries,

      Recalls "The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes. Again the blues is used for solidarity among people feeling bitter and depressed. Hughes says "Ain’t got nobody in all this world/Ain’t got nobody but ma self" and we see Ma Rainey also singing "bout de lonesome road."

    1. What happens to a dream deferred?

      This line and poem is used as an epigraph to "A Raisin in the Sun," a play about an African-American family who are due to receive a life-insurance check from a deceased family member and their decision over what the money should be used for. The grandmother wants to use to money to move out of their crummy apartment and into a house with a yard like she always wanted, while her son wants to open up a liquor store. The line "What happens to a dream deferred?" asks what happens when one puts off their dreams because of other responsibilities (family, social, political), and if the "there's always tomorrow" way of thinking is more harmful than helpful?

    2. ’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

      I wonder if this is meant to convey a positive or negative association, that the "muddy bosom" turned "golden" as a reflection that black relations in the US is getting better or worse

    1. Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit There is not even silence in the mountains

      The description recalls someone who has been exiled from civilization and forced to wander a wasteland of sorts

    2. (And I Tiresias have foresuffered all

      Tiresias was transformed into a woman for seven years, a sort of "exile" from his/her original gender/identity. Could this also be a commentary on losing one's sense of masculinity in the modern age?

    3. If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you can’t. But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling. You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.

      Lil's problems with her husband Albert reflect a superficiality and conflict of values in the modern/urban age, which can alienate/exile a person if they fail to meet those expectations. A similar problem arises in Elliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

    4. I think we are in rats’ alley Where the dead men lost their bones.

      Rat's Alley seems to describe a hidden away place in an urban setting where only the poor and downtrodden exist, sort of like Skid Row

    5. “Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?

      Does this go back to the earlier line "Earth in forgetful snow, feeding?"

    6. You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; “They called me the hyacinth girl.” —Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,

      Why is "Hyacinth" repeated so frequently here?

    7. And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief

      I get why a "dead tree" gives no shelter but why would a cricket give "relief" in the first place?

    1. Cow come out cow come out and out and smell a little

      Maybe WE are the cows and we must "come out and out and smell a little" of life or something like that. Just tossing things out here.

    2. Electrics are tight electrics are white electrics are a button.

      "Electrics are tight" like the wiring inside a phone? "Electrics are white" like a lightbulb? "Electrics are a button" like a button on an elevator?

    3. Resting cow curtain. Resting bull pin. Resting cow curtain. Resting bull pin.

      The feminine cow as a "curtain" and the masculine bull as a "pin" may allude to some sort of gender dynamic (pins hold up curtains? Maybe?).

  4. Sep 2015
    1. The pure products of America

      Are these the "100%-home grown-all natural-'Mericans" who demand to see birth certificates for authenticity or else it's time to get out?

    2. and we degraded prisoners destined to hunger until we eat filth

      So marginalized and oppressed that they will soon be left with nothing to call their own except for "filth" which could be any sort of immoral escape (drugs, alcohol, hookers)

    3. agent—

      Federal agents were appointed by the Bureau of Indian affairs to oversee Indian Reservations. Part of their job was assimilating Indians into mainstream white American culture.

    1. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

      Why does the narrator like the woods so much if they are "dark and deep?" Does he/she want to embrace the sense of fear and isolation that those words bring up?

    2. He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.

      Why wouldn't this mystery person living in the village want the speaker to stop in the woods and watch it fill up with snow?

    3. Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

      Is he saying life and one's experiences are totally relative, meaning either road will still be "worn" just the same, like how everyone ages and matures as time goes on?

    1. Was sold at auction on the public square, As if to destroy the last vestige Of my memory and influence.

      I wonder why auctioning off his "library" would "destroy" his "memory and influence." Maybe because it would commodify the works that he had held so close to him, as if they were cheap and dispensable?

    2. inquiring minds,

      "Inquiring minds" makes me think of people who are open to new ideas and not ignorant, contrasting with those in power in the village who ask the need to know "evil" in the world/

    1. that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy.

      Is he telling her not to talk about her mental health concerns, or does this "dangerous" "idea" that he considers "false" reflect the greater issue of woman's liberation?

    2. don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able.

      The entire piece but this part especially reminds me of Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's tale," where the protagonist, Offred, is dictating her life in a dystopian-male dominated society where she is forbidden to read or write but does it anyway to record her life under an oppressive regime.

    3. a slight hysterical tendency

      Female hysteria was a common medical diagnosis exclusively for women until the 20th century. Freud said it was caused by a lack of "libidinal evolution" and said the person cannot live a "mature relationship." The narrator may believe in this (since outdated) notion, especially with the way her husband treats her like a helpless child.

    1. The bright ideals of the past,—physical freedom, political power, the training of brains and the training of hands,—all these in turn have waxed and waned, until even the last grows dim and overcast. Are they all wrong,—all false? No, not that, but each alone was over-simple and incomplete,—the dreams of a credulous race-childhood, or the fond imaginings of the other world which does not know and does not want to know our power. To be really true, all these ideals must be melted and welded into one.

      He advocates a more focus, singular goal rather than the "bright ideals of the past." In this way African-Americans demand at once everything that is deserved to them, their full integration into society. If rights/liberties are granted separately then they run the risk of losing one or more gradually over time, or by stretching themselves too thin by pursuing multiple goals at once.

    2. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that dead-weight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem

      "For the first time" Du Bois says of the African-American "analyz[ing]" the "burden he bore upon his back." Du Bois is saying that while African-Americans have been aware of their hardships for hundreds of years, they are now understanding that this new "burden" is the one of casting off the "dead-weight of social degradation" and transforming themselves into full members of society, respected and acknowledged among their neighbors.

    3. I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows.

      Excluded from "the exchange" and the world he lived in, Du Bois embraced his alienation and reciprocated his bitterness and anger for those on the other side.

    1. Why is American art, language, and education "sexless?"

    2. Maybe he (Adams) is saying that he's not exactly tech/engineering savvy so steam and electric currents are a mystery to him, just as Christianity is as well, or at least the popular icons of it (crosses and cathedrals)

  5. Aug 2015
    1. The phrase "They Lion grow" sounds awkward and grammatically incorrect, but maybe it reflects a certain vernacular of working-class people living in the areas described in the poem.

      Also, when I read it to myself it sounds like "They lyin' grows," a play on words to show how deceit and ignorance are contributing to the degrading environment of the poem.