Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Dan Chiasson

It's not often I get really excited about a poem - I love poems that feel familiar at first, and then turn to strangeness. I want them to coax me away from my comfort zone. This poem, Where's the Moon, There's the Moon (A Story for Children) by Dan Chiasson is one such piece. It's long enough (from previous posts you might notice I normally like poetry to be bite-sized), but I think it needs it.

I'll need to read this poem again and again. It's full of half familiar images - images that seem to come from other poems, images that might be half-remembered too. The opening stanza is almost Dantean, by the third I was thinking of Kavanagh's A Christmas Childhood. So what's the poem about? Memory, perhaps, or bits of memory; who knows...

Sometimes it could almost be a response to other poems, to other genres even. These lines sound to me like the other half of an aubade, the half we never hear, in which the forces of nature that force lovers up from their beds finally reply to whichever lover-poet is cursing them that morning:

but I am proud of him as was his master-keeper proud
of him, this noble, endless line of moonkeepers
who hang the light that lights the moon and take it down
every morning, meaning that it is morning, get up,
that’s not a pie plate over there in the east,
sleepyheads, lovers climb down off of your beloveds;
But I've only read this poem twice; so I'm off to read it again, and see what else I can find. I think I'll be keeping an eye on Dan Chiasson.

No comments: