Sunday, October 11, 2009

"What Are Years?"

I guess since we didn't really talk about Marianne Moore's "What Are Years?" I thought I would give it a try. I thought this poem was somewhat confusing, and not much like her other poems. She usually compares stuff as we have seen through many of our discussions in class on her other poems. I didn't really think she had much of a comparison here. The first stanza was kind of hard to understand. She talks about courage. I think what she's saying about it is that when people find courage within themselves, others will see it, and they will try to find their own courage. This is around line 8 of the poem. The second stanza is a big question mark to me. So if anyone wants to give a shot at that it would be great. If I had to guess I'd say that it's talking about being optimistic about life ("accededs to mortality") and even though it could fall into pessimism (the "surrendering" of optimism) sometimes, life still goes on or its "continuing". I think I'm stretching this part. haha. I think the third stanza continues to talk about life as it mentions "mortality" again in the second to last line. The idea of the last stanza is that there should be continued optimism even though things may hold one back. Even though the bird is "captive" he is still singing.

Here's my attempt to explain the poem. Anyone want to try?

1 comment:

  1. I actually wanted to point out something I thought was pretty interesting about this poem. In the beginning, she starts off with questions ("what is our innocence, what is our guilt? etc"), creating a sense of uncertainty or curiosity; in those questions she also includes words that are the opposites of one another i.e. "innocence" and "guilt", "naked" (which i took to mean exposed to dangers) and "safe", and "unanswered question" and "resolute doubt", which furthered the sense of uncertainty. In the end, she finishes the poem with a set of statements ("this is morality, this is eternity"), which create a sense of certainty or assertiveness; a shift into certainty that I actually thought happened in the second stanza when she starts with "He sees deep and is glad...", which I thought to be symbolic of her appreciation of life. I also thought it was interesting how the last two statements seem to relate to the first two questions. "what are years" pertains to "this is eternity" and what is our innocence, what is our guilt" pertains to "this is morality". I thought that was pretty interesting. =]

    To answer your question, I took this poem to be one observation of people and her acceptance of how the human race is. I feel that she acknowledges the inquisitive nature of humans in the beginning and the assertiveness at the end and in the middle she notes a struggle between the two and in a sense, a failure for either side to prevail ("struggling to be free and unable to be"). In short, I took her poem to mean an acceptance of human's strengths and weaknesses and an appreciation of life.


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