Some people will shy away from this post because it is rather long, and it does not make them the centre of the universe – and a lot of people will be disappointed when they learn they are not at the centre of the universe. But I believe it is important to be aware of different perspectives, and I encourage you to read on, learn something, and teach something in return. Always pay it forward.
I preach a lot about awareness in my waking life, but I realized maybe I need to help people out with that one. A lot of people have trouble opening their eyes to realize that there is more than one view in every situation, every circumstance, every second of your life. There is more than one message being presented to you at all times. There is more than one motive in media. And so on.
Because my specialty is English, I’m going to help by expanding views on simple words. One of my favourite things about reading is the language itself. The way writers put words together, the way they sound, the multiple meanings every word contains – some being as old as the English Language itself. We forget that the way things are now, are not the way they always were.
In the “about” section of my blog, I state that not everyone has an English degree in reading poetry – following that I did not provide instruction because I assumed that warning would be fair enough. Now, assumptions are dangerous things. Not only does to assume make an ass of “u” and “me,” but it also means I’m not being aware of all the outcomes of the situation. Here I will provide a short “English Lesson” on reading one of my poems.
I’m going to study it as though I did not write it – because when you read something, you can never know exactly what a writer is thinking. You can only try and make meaning with the words that you are given. I also want to state here that my blog is not only poetry – sometimes it’s random thoughts or statements I wish to make. I believe in freedom of thought and speech, listening to the opinions of others, and acting spontaneously on whatever emotion I feel at any given moment. It makes life a more beautiful thing.
“3 Parts”: an Analysis
When you begin to study poetry, one of the first things you learn is to differentiate between “the author” and “the speaker.” The author of the poem (me, in this case), is the person who actually, physically, and literally composed and wrote the poem which you are presented with. The speaker of the poem is the voice within the poem, the character speaking to you, as it were. Not every poem is autobiographical in nature. For more information, click here. Otherwise, since we have established that the speaker of the poems are not the same as the writers, don’t have to share the same views and perspectives on life, and can differ vastly, we’ll move on.
For time, and personal energy’s sake, I will only analyse Part II of “3 Parts” (which you can click here to read).
The first sentence: “I hate it here” is very ambiguous. Where is “here”? The speaker of the poem has given readers no identifying characteristics. It is the first line in the second part – does it even carry through from the first directly? “Here” could be interpreted, therefore, in a number of ways. It could be a specific, unidentified location in which the speaker is situated. However, it could also reference the world as whole, “here” being the very earth itself.
The poem continues: “the place is filled with princesses.” The “place” is equivalent to whatever “here” is. If we continue with “here” being the world, then we can understand that the world is filled with princesses. This makes sense given the time of writing by the author: the middle class is fading out of existence, the “One Percent” have control over much of the world, if you know her, you’d know she (the author) goes to a school where many people are over-privileged and don’t experience the same difficulties. This could be inspiration to this line. People, akin to princesses, would have values such as money, clothing, status – such as a princess. It is a metaphor. The place (the world) is filled with princesses (entitled people), then the metaphor becomes the world is filled with naïve, sheltered people who do not have the ability to see the issues affecting every day man. The privileged few seem to be everywhere – and the speaker is an outcast.
The poem continues: “a sorrow blooms in my chest…heart is heavy.” The next stanza is filled with a deep melancholy. The speaker’s use of flowery personification for sorrow shows its expansion and has a quality of actually overtaking the speaker’s life. It affects both the head and the heart. It has the ability to grow and consume, being alive like a plant.
The speaker also starts talking about smoking (nicotine) cigarettes. The cigarette is highly connected to a slow death in this section. Depression is often likened to a painful, slow, life-taking disorder. This resonates with the cigarette-smoking since cigarettes slowly kill over the years of smoking them, causing multiple problems from yellowed fingers (symbolizing old age before your time) and actually cancer taking over the body. The abundance of sorrow and death imagery in this poem, including “a restriction in my chest,” meaning loss of breath, shows how the speaker is having such trouble coping in the world (“here”), that she is both “weighted” and “light” – disorientated and experiencing a slow death.
This has overwhelming effects on the speaker’s person – this slow death, this loss of breath, this sorrow – so that it is channelled into a confusion of emotions where she struggles between “murderous rage” and “not caring” at all. She is clearly leaning towards rage since she expresses “to not care would be a wonderful blessing” – but then goes on to ponder if she really does. So readers are constantly confused: is this a speaker who is about to break under the weight of her weary world? Or is she just complaining and doesn’t really care at all? Doesn’t want to care?
Her, potentially yellowed and withered fingers, are bunched into a fist. She “imagine[s] smashing it into a face…or three.” We see here that she does not plan to take any action in her emotions. She internalizes her feelings to imagination. The use of “a face” or “three” is also interesting. If she said a face or two, then we could assume a couple of people could take away her rage. But her use of an ellipsis followed by “and three” – a number of completeness – suggests a progressing action. It could be a face, or three, or ten, or one hundred. The number encapsulates unlimited possibilities. She would have to imagine smashing everyone’s face who is contributed to the wrongs of the world to get out her “murderous rage.” This leads into the turning point of the poem. In the lines following she has an epiphany.
The speaker would not ever act her imaginings in life because she doesn’t want a world with violence. It is the exact thing she is working against. So, even though the wrongs of the world, the violence, the selfishness drive her to her own confused and violent thoughts, she concludes that violence is not the answer. Externalizing her rage in a negative way is tantamount to her becoming one of the people she loathes.
In the next passage she states that she stays her hand so that it does not harm anyone – concluding that her revelation was to not harm anyone or anything. She also bites her tongue – this silence causes “blood” to drip “over [her] lips and down [her] chin.” This action of silence is also damaging, we see. Silence is physically harming the speaker.
Her loneliness and oneness in this place of princesses is reaffirmed when she states “There is no one to kiss away this pain” and there is nothing to truly help her with “this thing / Held over me.”
It is a sad poem of hopelessness, of no action taken, of existing in a place where you are alone and the world is not an understanding or good place to be.
I hope this helps the few who care to read it. I could have gone into far more detail, I’m sure. Or closer analysed some of the imagery: but I’ll leave it to you to investigate further if you are interested. The purpose was to at least move away from an initial reading where everyone will interpret a poem based on their own understanding of life, and their own thoughts on how things revolve around themselves.
Let’s all move away from our initial reactions and look for something deeper. We may not always find it, but at least we can say we tried. At least we can say, “I did my best.” Are you doing your best?