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A peek under the kimono

Blog Posted:1/13/2014 7:33:00 PM

Did you ever wonder what a poet meant by a particular phrase, descriptive term, or line?
Why the poet organized the poem in a certain way or chose a particular form?
What effects or feelings the poet was trying to evoke?
Why the words in certain lines had a different rhythm?

Sometimes you can get these explanations at a poetry reading, or if the poet is famous, their works may have been written about and analyzed. In Shakespeare’s case of course, the analysis exceeds his body of work.

So here, I'm going to deconstruct a poem of mine, at least partially. I invite you to do the same. I think it will be a learning experience.

Kiss of the Eagle

Many eons passed on Earth, who only saw your face 
Untouched your virgin body, floating there in space 
Waxing, waning, gibbous, crescent, quarter, full and new 
Selene the Greeks would call you; Diana, Caesar knew 

Who would brave the ether, who would cross the void 
To agitate the tranquil sea you had so long enjoyed, 
To softly kiss your ravaged face and return to tell the tale 
Of Luna's hidden secrets beneath her powdered veil? 

Three heroes took the final quest aboard their fiery steed 
In Apollo's silver chariot proceeding with godspeed 
Three days and nights they voyaged to their opalescent goal 
On Earth they watched and worried in the halls of ground control
One held the craft outside the reach of Luna's jealous grip 
While Eagle's talons cradled two who risked the final trip 
They timidly approached her through the shadowy abyss 
Luna waited patiently and received the Eagle's kiss 

Nations watched and cheered on Terra's distant shore 
As one man finally took a step no one ever took before 
In our hearts and in our minds his words will be enshrined 
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Deconstruction and comments:

This poem was one of the first I ever posted. It was inspired by Neil Armstrong's death a few months prior. The moon landing itself is metaphorically depicted as a romantic kiss.

There are also some astronomical/space metaphors:

In the first line "who only saw your face" refers to the fact that the moon always shows the same face to the earth because its rotational period is equal to its orbital period, i.e. it is "locked", typical to many moons and small planets like Mercury.
All the Moon's phases are listed in the 3rd line. Interestingly, listed this way, they are almost perfect iambic feet.
Selene and Diana are moon goddesses.
"Ether" is the "fifth" Greek element, representing space, used here to stay within the classical theme.
The "tranquil sea" in the second stanza is a metaphor for undisturbed space, but it also refers to the actual landing site, the Sea of Tranquility.
The "ravaged face" in the next line refers to the many meteor craters on the moon's surface.
The "powdered veil" in the next line refers to the layer of moon dust covering the moon's surface.
“Apollo's silver chariot” refers to the spacecraft itself, of course, and the Apollo mission. The god Apollo had a gold one.
"Godspeed" actually means "Good Speed" but also refers to an expression of good wishes to a person starting a journey."Godspeed" was also used as an Apollo pun.
"Luna's jealous grip" refers to the Moon's gravitational field.
“Eagle's talons” refers to the lunar module's life support system. The verb “cradle” was used to re-enforce the idea of a mother's protection.
The "kiss" is the soft landing itself, naturally.
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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:24:00 PM
    Now, let's see if hot brings in another reader.... I still say change the title of this blog to WHO WANTS TO TAKE A PEEK? Roy, this deserves to be read by more than me, the blog-hog. Good stuff. I liked how you shared your thinking and allowed us to look deeper into a poem. I will put up mine, but I swear I might title it FREE BEER HERE, LOL! Smiles from Cyndi-

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    Jerden Avatar Roy Jerden Date: 1/15/2014 3:02:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Done. Let's see if the bait is better.
  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:21:00 PM

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:20:00 PM

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:20:00 PM

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:19:00 PM
    C'mon people this is an awesome poem and one cool blog.WE NEED MORE OF THESE

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:19:00 PM

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:18:00 PM
    and a three

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:18:00 PM
    Maybe you should change the title to Naked Pictures. LOL

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:17:00 PM
    Sad that I am the only one who commented here/hear. Hmmm... Roy, I'm going to be silly. I watched Nikko do this once, bless her heart. Laugh or swat me, either way, I'm making this hot. LOL!

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  1. Date: 1/15/2014 2:17:00 PM
    and a two

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  1. Date: 1/13/2014 7:57:00 PM
    Awesome poem, awesome blog! It took me 'til the third stanza to get the title, but then I'm tired. I wasn't sure what I was reading until I got to the third line. I LIKE when a poem feels slightly mysterious, for a line or two. I don't want it all spelled out, TOO clear. I got many of these references (my given name is Cynthia, another moon goddess name) One question. What made you think of using ether? Thanks for posting this, I've done this, too in a blog ... oh, ages ago. Can I try to repost it? My computer is acting hinky and I can't seem to blog anything without odd characters appearing, my colour no longer works, centering, ANY-thing. Still, I'm willing to go for it... should I?

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    Jerden Avatar Roy Jerden Date: 1/14/2014 7:01:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks, Cyndi. Go for it! BTW, I will update my deconstruction a bit. I used "ether", the fifth Greek element, as the word for space to stay within the classical theme.

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