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.