Flashcards in Long Finish Deck (20)
Post modernist poem written in 1998. Written for his 10th wedding anniversary.
10 stanzas of 8 lines. Some regularity to rhyme scheme but often breaks the pattern.
"Ten years since we were married, since we stood
under a chuppah of pine boughs
in the middle of a little pinewood
and exchanged our wedding vows."
Muldoon is with his wife reminiscing and celebrating their wedding 10 years ago. A "chuppah" is a wedding canopy used in Jewish marriage ceremonies.
"Save me, good thou,
a piece of marchpane, while I fill your glass with Simi
Chardonnay as high as decency allows,
and then some.
Darts from Jewish style Irish wedding to archaic language. "marchpane" is marzipan. Shortened last line sets up refrain that is repeated in the odd numbered stanzas. Speaker has excess of blessing in his marriage.
"Bear with me now as I myself must bear
the scrutiny of a bottle of wine
that boasts of hints of plum and pear,
tempered by an oak backbone. I myself have designs"
Continues with the language of wine tasting, sophisticated, pretentious and mocking; entirely inconsistent with their country style wedding.
"on the willow-boss
of your breast, on all your waist confines
between longing and loss."
Focuses on his wife's breasts. Bosses are protruding carvings. Ends in a refrain which is a lyrical reference to yearning and need
"The wonder is that we somehow have withstood
the soars and slumps in the Dow
of ten years of marriage and parenthood,
its summits and its sloughs-"
Marvels that their marriage has been successful and likens it to the American Stock Exchange. The sibilant, alliterative 's's are soothing rather than aggressive representing the smooth passage of time through their marriage
"That we've somehow
managed to withstand an almond-blossomy
five years of bitter rapture. five of
(and then some
Almond blossoms are the traditional flowers used to make bridal head dresses. Two oxymoron's sum up contradictions of marriage ("Bitter rapture" and "blissful rows")
Repeated refrain enjambed with next stanza representing their on-going happy marriage.
"If we count the one or two to spare
when we've been firmly on cloud nine).
Oxymoron. Cloud nine is floating in the sky with idyllic happiness which cannot therefore be firm. Asserting they have a successful relationship.
"Even now, as you turn away from me
with your one bare
shoulder, the veer of your neckline,
I glimpse the all-but-cleared-up
eczema patch on your spine"
Reference to eczema could indicate that she has imperfections that enhance rather than detract from love. "all-but-cleared-up" could be a metaphor for the flaws in their marriage. The "bare shoulder" shows he is sexually attracted to his wife
"And it brings to mind not the Schloss
that stands, transitory, tra la, Triestine,
between longing and loss
Schloss means castle. Trieste means sadness. "transitory" could mean that the couple visited it briefly and although it means sadness, it still signifies their joy. Repeated refrain in even number of stanzas suggests that the couple yearn to return or something has been lost in their relationship despite the joy.
"But a crude
hip trench in a field, covered with pine boughs,
in which two men in masks and hoods
who have themselves taken vows
wait for a farmer to break a bale for his
before opening fire with semi-
automatics, cutting him off slightly
above the eyebrows,
and then some."
Jumps from happiness in their marriage to the troubles in Ireland. Pine boughs are now sinister and provide a cover for murderers. The "vows" are loyalty to their political organisation.
"cutting him off" is ironic as if describing a badly aligned photograph rather than a fatal wound.
Final refrain makes it more horrifying as if there will be more killing.
"It brings to mind another, driving out
for six white-faced kine
finishing on heather and mountain air,
another who'll shortly divine
the precise whereabouts of a land
on the road between Beragh and
who'll shortly know what it is to have
breasted the line
between longing and loss."
Irish place names "Beragh" and "Sixmilecross" ironically homely and unromantic. Gruesome gallows humour being understated.
"Such forbearance in the face of vicissitude
also brings to mind the little "there,
theres" and "now,nows"
of two sisters whose sleeves are
with the constant douse and souse
of salt water through their salt house
in Marsukaze (or Pining Wind), by
the salt house through which the wind
soughs and soughs,
and then some"
Reference to Japanese play in which two sisters who farm salt, pine for a poet-courtier.
The word "soughs" means the whooshing sound of wind through trees. Grief of Japanese sisters echoes the grief of the widows of the two victims previously described and the grief of all Northern Irish people.
"Of the wind's little "now,nows" and "there, theres"
seem to intertwine
with those of Pining Wind and Autumn
Rain, who must forbear
the dolor of their lives of boiling down
For the double meaning of "pine"
is much the same in Japanese as
English, coming across
both in the sense of "tree" and the
sense we assign
between "longing" and "loss"
Names of grieving sisters.
"boiling down brine" could reference the saltiness of tears leading naturally and logically to the sense we assign between longing and loss.
"As when the ghost of Yukihira, the poet-courtier who wooed
both sisters, appears as a ghostly pine,
pining among pine boughs.
Barely have Autumn Rain and Pining
Three sets of "vows"; the marriage vows of the poet and his wife, the vows of the Northern Irish fighters to their Para-military organisation and the vows made by the Noh Play characters.
"Than you turn back toward me, and
while it covers the all-but-cleared-up
patch of eczema,
falls as low as decency allows,
and then some."
Poet reprises the motifs of the eczema patch and the slipping blouse. "and then some" suggests on-going attraction.
"Princess of Accutane, let's no more try
the pure drop from the dross"
Final stanza in the ballade is an evoi in which the poet addresses their ruler. Princess of Accutane could be a reference to one of the most powerful medieval women. Pun on Accutane a commonly used eczema treatment cream.
"Than distinguish, good thou, between
mine and thine,
between longing and loss,
ourselves each dawn, here on the
shore at Suma,"
The word "souse" the sound of wind in trees is echoed by "rouse" which in turn brings to mind the sister in the Japanese Noh play and their faith. The poet urges that he and his wife have the same blind faith.