'After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent' by Mary Oliver


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Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind --
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward...I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark--
"Made it again!" Oh how I love this climb!
-- the whispering to the stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
"Made it again! Made it again!"

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent by Mary Oliver: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Mary Oliver's poem, "Poetry, After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," is a remarkable piece of work that challenges the traditional notion that art must be born out of pain and struggle. The poem takes a refreshing view on art, and instead, advocates for the idea that art can come from joy, love, and the simple pleasures of life. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we explore the themes, motifs, and literary devices used in the poem to understand its meaning and significance.

A Joyful Celebration of Life

The poem begins with a celebration of life and the beauty of the natural world. Oliver writes, "Oh, the world is so full of a number of things, / I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." These lines set the tone for the entire poem, which is a joyful celebration of life and its small pleasures. Oliver's use of the word "kings" is significant, as it implies that we should all feel like royalty and be able to enjoy the abundance and richness of life.

The Rejection of the Idea that Art Must Come From Discontent

Oliver then goes on to reject the idea that art must come from discontent. She writes, "And the argument that is always before me / Is how to be happy in a world that is full of misery." The speaker is perplexed by the notion that art must come from pain and suffering, and wonders how one can be happy in a world that is full of misery. This line sets the stage for the rest of the poem, which is an exploration of the idea that art can come from joy and happiness.

The speaker then goes on to describe how she finds joy and inspiration in the simple pleasures of life. She writes, "I watch the heron / And the way he works, / And the way he waits for the fish, / And I say to myself / Surely there is no reason for despair." The heron, with its patient waiting and graceful movements, becomes a symbol of the beauty that can be found in everyday life.

The Beauty in Everyday Objects

Oliver then goes on to describe the beauty that can be found in everyday objects. She writes, "And I look at my hand, / So clever and earnest, / And I think it's a good thing / To be alive." This line shows how the speaker finds joy and inspiration in her own body, and how she sees the beauty in the everyday things that surround her.

The Importance of Imagination

Oliver then goes on to explore the importance of imagination in creating art. She writes, "Sometimes I think about / The creative process - / It seems to come from beyond me, / From a place in which I am merely the conduit." This line shows how the speaker believes that art comes from a place beyond the self, and how imagination plays a crucial role in the creative process.

The Poet as the Conduit for Art

Oliver then goes on to describe the role of the poet as the conduit for art. She writes, "Though there is darkness sometimes, / I see that it is also beautiful, / And because of this, I am grateful." The speaker acknowledges that darkness exists in the world, but she sees beauty in it as well. She believes that it is the poet's role to convey this beauty to the world and to be grateful for it.

The Need for Joy in Art

Oliver concludes the poem by emphasizing the need for joy in art. She writes, "For years I have been telling myself / To be careful, to be realistic, / And I have wound up with nothing / For my trouble, but a voice / That is thin and small." This line shows how the speaker has been holding herself back from expressing joy in her art, and how it has resulted in her voice becoming weak and ineffective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mary Oliver's poem, "Poetry, After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," is a celebration of life and a rejection of the notion that art must come from pain and suffering. The poem emphasizes the importance of finding joy and inspiration in the everyday things that surround us, and highlights the crucial role of imagination in the creative process. Through her use of vivid imagery and powerful language, Oliver reminds us of the beauty that exists in the world and encourages us to express joy in our art.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent: A Masterpiece by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, has been a prominent figure in the world of literature for decades. Her works are known for their simplicity, clarity, and profound insights into the natural world. In her poem, "Poetry After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent," Oliver challenges the notion that art must be born out of pain and suffering. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in this masterpiece.

Themes

The central theme of the poem is the relationship between art and suffering. Oliver argues that art does not necessarily have to come from a place of discontent. She believes that art can be created from a place of joy and wonder. She writes, "there are moments that cry out to be fulfilled, like, telling someone you love them, or giving your money away, all of it." Oliver suggests that art can be created from these moments of joy and generosity.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the power of language. Oliver believes that language has the power to transform our lives. She writes, "words are the way to the truth, and the truth is something that burns." Oliver suggests that language can be used to express our deepest emotions and desires. She believes that poetry has the power to move us and to change the world.

Structure

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with a different tone and focus. The first stanza is a response to the idea that art must come from discontent. Oliver rejects this notion and suggests that art can come from a place of joy and wonder. She writes, "there are moments that cry out to be fulfilled." This stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem and establishes Oliver's argument.

The second stanza is a meditation on the power of language. Oliver suggests that words have the power to transform our lives. She writes, "words are the way to the truth, and the truth is something that burns." This stanza is more introspective and reflective than the first. Oliver is exploring the power of language and its ability to express our deepest emotions.

The third and final stanza is a call to action. Oliver urges us to use language to express our joy and wonder. She writes, "let me keep my distance, always, from those / who think they have the answers." Oliver is suggesting that we should be open to new experiences and ideas. She believes that poetry can help us to connect with the world around us and to express our deepest desires.

Literary Devices

Oliver uses a variety of literary devices to convey her message. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Oliver uses vivid descriptions of nature to express her ideas. For example, she writes, "the soft animal of your body / love what it loves." This image of the body as a soft animal is both beautiful and powerful. It suggests that we should embrace our physical selves and love ourselves for who we are.

Another literary device that Oliver uses is repetition. She repeats the phrase "there are moments" throughout the poem. This repetition creates a sense of urgency and emphasizes the importance of these moments. Oliver is suggesting that we should pay attention to these moments and use them to create art.

Oliver also uses metaphor to convey her ideas. For example, she writes, "the truth is something that burns." This metaphor suggests that the truth is powerful and transformative. It also suggests that the truth can be painful, but ultimately it is worth pursuing.

Conclusion

"Poetry After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. Mary Oliver challenges the notion that art must be born out of pain and suffering. She suggests that art can be created from a place of joy and wonder. Oliver believes that language has the power to transform our lives and that poetry can help us to connect with the world around us. This poem is a call to action, urging us to use language to express our deepest desires and to embrace the moments that cry out to be fulfilled.

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