Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Poetry in Motion, Day 4 (Jane Hirshfield)

Today's Poetry in Motion poster was inscribed by Jane Hirshfield to me at the 1998 Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival.

The poem is:

The Groundfall Pear


It is the one he chooses,
Yellow, plump, a little bruised
On one side from falling.
That place he takes first.

Previous BillyBlog Poetry in Motion posts:

from My Grandmother's New York Apartment by Elizabeth Alexander (Day 1)
from A Bouquet by Bei Dao (Day 2)
Separation by W.S. Merwin (Day 3)

3 comments:

R. Lachsvolkes said...

Bill- How do you understand "That place he takes first?" Is it the bruisedness that he eats first or is it that he holds it from the bruise so that he can only see the good? Or is "place" a way to just say "pear" -- that he eats the bruised one first? I like the poem and I like the idea that he takes the bruised one first; says a lot about who he is....

Oxypoet said...

There are two interpretations here. Actually, the great thing about poetry is that the number of interpretations can be multiple, depending on who you are.

The optimist might take it literally, and see that he takes the bruised part first because it is the moistest and sweetest bite. Maybe not so with apples, but perhaps with pears.

However, Jane Hirshfield is a complex poet, and I would see that as too easy an explanation. I see a darker, more brutal interpretation.

Perhaps I read too much into it, but here is the object of beauty: with a flaw, the bruise, from falling. It is that bruise that he "takes" first. He exploits the weakness of the insecurity of the damaged psyche.

A stretch, but it works for me, and the double meaning makes this poem so wonderful. It is sensual, matter-of-fact, and violent, and not necessarily at the same time.

Oxypoet said...

Got this via email today from Knopf daily poem, by Wallace Stevens. Thought it appropriate to add on:

Study of Two Pears

I
Opusculum paedagogum.
The pears are not viols,
Nudes or bottles.
They resemble nothing else.


II
They are yellow forms
Composed of curves
Bulging toward the base.
They are touched red.


III
They are not flat surfaces
Having curved outlines.
They are round
Tapering toward the top.