“I could pick anything and think of you
Establishes an intimate tone
‘anything’ suggests the limitless nature of their love
“This lamp, the wind-still rain, the glossy blue
My pen exudes, drying matte, upon the page.”
—> Lists everyday objects, suggesting that love is ordinary.
He is equal or more important than writing is to her.
And chain mail glinting, to set me free:
One eye smiling, the other firm upon the enemy.”
—> Comparing him to a knight in shining armour. A cliche image of love, suggesting their love is traditional and conventional.
Rhyming couplets reinforce the regularity of their love and list.
“This post-post-modern age is all business: compact disks
And faxes, a do-it-now-and-take-no-risks”
—> poet shifts the reader’s back to reality flippantly (“post-post-modern”), designed to bamboozles/confuse the reader (especially as there is a lack of a clear definition of post-postmodernism), life gets too busy to think about love (thus appreciating stolen time in bunker)
Oddly male: Big-Bad Floyd,
—> “Big Bad” shows Floyd enemy husband’s eye was “firm upon” (contrast), everything brings her back to her subject/partner (except here where daydreams are of opposite),
Mocks hurricane Floyd as they are usually given female names
Personifies the hurricane like it is a playground bully, but she is undermining its power as it had many casualties.
Crushes on worthless boys
Whose only talent was to kiss you senseless’
—> name of hurricane triggers memories of her contrasting first experiences of ‘love’ (immature crushes on “worthless boys” with less macho/masculine names), dramatic climax of humour in poem
—> suggests that Rita dove wished for a relationship where men could provide something special fulfilling in the relationship
“Were thin as licorice and as chewy,
Sweet with a dark and hollow center.”
—> Simile, implies they don’t mean anything to her.
-light hearted extended metaphor shows the relationships lacked substance
—> emptiness of relationships
“We’re content, but fall short of the Divine.
Still, it’s embarrassing, this happiness-“
—> They’re happy together even though it’s not exciting or very romantic
contrasts with idealised love (divine)
—> Dove feels embarrassed by how happy she is because nothing exciting or eventful is happening in their life/relationship. Their love relationship is simple.
“And yet, because nothing else will do
To keep me from melancholy (call it blues)
I fill this stolen time with you.”
—> she knows her partner is the only one who can keep her from behind sad (she adds blues to keep it more up to date), filling her mind with him is her answer, poet is grateful, stolen time also references stolen from business to daydream (her joy + she is embarrassed to be happy)
—> Use of pronouns resembles first line - giving a sense of completeness.
Structure and form:
First 15 lines is AABBCC… (heroic couplets- out of fashion when Rita dove wrote the poem- makes the poem feel ARCHAIC AND OLD FASHIONED. This links with the cliched idea of the knight in shining armour
However, as the poem proceeds, the speaker rejects these fantasies as hollow, empty. Instead, she focuses on the deeper, richer, pleasures of a real relationship. As she does so, the rhymes shift. Sometimes, the poem rhymesABAB—as inlines 21-24andlines 27-30; sometimes it doesn’t rhyme at all, as in lines 26-27; elsewhere it slips back into rhyming couplets inlines 18-19. These shifting, unpredictable rhymes suggest that the speaker has given up on the romantic fantasies of the first half of the poem, and is instead diving into the complicated, but ultimately more rewarding pleasures of real life.
-written in mostly free verse (mirrors the changing attitudes of the Rita Dove as she gets older
Good old context:
- Hurricane Floyd: Hurricane Floyd was a very powerful storm which struck the Bahamas and East Coast America in 1999, prompted 2.6 million coastal residents from five states to be evacuated from their homes. It caused 85 deaths and monetary damage estimated at $6.5 billion. Unusually, this natural disaster provides the backdrop for Dove’s love poem.
- For Fred: The poem is dedicated to Dove’s husband, Fred Viebahn - emphasising the autobiographical nature of the poem.
- Autobiographical: References to the accoutrements of writers around the home (like ‘twin desks’ further gesture towards the autobiographical nature of the poem.