'The Furies' by Weldon Kees
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Not a third that walks beside me,
But five or six or more.
Whether at dusk or daybreak
Or at blinding noon, a retinue
Of shadows that no door
Excludes.--One like a kind of scrawl,
Hands scrawled trembling and blue,
A harelipped and hunchbacked dwarf
With a smile like a grapefruit rind,
Who jabbers the way I do
When the brain is empty and tired
And the guests no longer care:
A clown, who shudders and suddenly
Is a man with a mouth of cotton
Trapped in a dentist's chair.Not a third that walks beside me,
But five or six or more:
One with his face gone rotten,
Most hideous of all,
Whose crutches shriek on the sidewalk
As a fingernail on a slate
Tears open some splintered door
Of childhood. Down the hall
We enter a thousand rooms
That pour the hours back,
That silhouette the walls
With shadows ripped from war,
Accusing and rigid, black
As the streets we are discolored by.
The crutches fall to the floor.Not a third that walks beside me,
But five or six, or more
Than fingers or brain can bear--
A monster strung with guts,
A coward covered with hair,
Matted and down to his knees,
Murderers, liars, thieves,
Moving in darkened rows
Through daylight and evening air
Until the eyelids close,
Snapped like the blades of a knife,
And your dream of their death begins.
Possessors and possessed,
They keep the bedside wake
As a doctor or a wife
Might wait the darkness through
Until the pale daybreak--
Protectors of your life.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Furies by Weldon Kees: A Dark and Haunting Masterpiece
The Furies by Weldon Kees is a powerful and haunting poem that explores the themes of death, despair, and the human condition. The poem is written in a free verse style that is both lyrical and intense, and it combines vivid imagery, metaphors, and symbolism to create a dark and eerie atmosphere. In this literary analysis, we will explore the different aspects of the poem, including its themes, style, and symbolism, and we will discuss how they contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the poem.
Overview and Context of the Poem
The Furies was written by Weldon Kees in the 1940s, during the height of the Second World War. Kees was a poet, novelist, and painter, and he was known for his dark and melancholic themes. The Furies is one of his most famous poems, and it was first published in 1947 in his collection, The Fall of the Magicians.
The poem is named after the Furies, who were the ancient Greek goddesses of vengeance and retribution. In Greek mythology, the Furies were depicted as frightening and terrifying creatures who punished those who had committed crimes and sins. In The Furies, Kees uses the image of the Furies to explore the theme of death and the consequences of human actions.
Themes and Analysis
The Furies is a complex and multi-layered poem that explores several themes, including death, despair, and the human condition. Kees uses vivid imagery, metaphors, and symbolism to convey these themes, and he creates a dark and eerie atmosphere that adds to the overall impact of the poem.
Death and Despair
One of the main themes of The Furies is death and despair. The poem begins with the image of a man who has committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. Kees describes the man's body as "broken," "blown," and "twisted," and he uses the image of his "white bones" to emphasize the finality and brutality of death. The man's death is a metaphor for the ultimate despair and hopelessness that can drive someone to take their own life.
Throughout the poem, Kees uses other images and metaphors to convey the theme of death and despair. He describes the "broken glass" and "rotten fruit" that litter the streets, symbolizing the decay and destruction that can come with death. He also uses the image of the "bleak and empty sky" to convey the sense of loss and emptiness that can follow a death.
The Human Condition
Another theme that The Furies explores is the human condition. Kees uses the image of the man who has committed suicide as a representation of the human struggle for meaning and purpose. The man's death is a metaphor for the existential crisis that can afflict us all, as we search for meaning in a world that can seem chaotic and meaningless.
Kees also explores the theme of human vulnerability and impermanence. He uses the image of the man's body as a reminder of the fragility and transience of human life. He describes the man's "white bones" as a symbol of the fundamental emptiness and impermanence that underlies all human existence.
Style and Technique
The Furies is written in a free verse style that is both lyrical and intense. Kees uses a variety of literary techniques, including metaphors, imagery, and symbolism, to create a dark and eerie atmosphere that is both haunting and powerful.
One of the most striking features of the poem is Kees's use of imagery. He uses vivid and often disturbing images to convey the themes of death and despair. For example, he describes the man's body as "broken," "blown," and "twisted," creating a graphic and unsettling image that stays with the reader long after the poem has ended.
Kees also uses metaphor to great effect in The Furies. He uses the image of the man's body as a metaphor for the human struggle for meaning and purpose, and he uses the image of the "bleak and empty sky" to convey the sense of loss and emptiness that can follow a death.
Finally, Kees uses symbolism to convey the deeper meanings and themes of the poem. The Furies themselves are a powerful symbol of the consequences of human actions, and their presence in the poem adds to the sense of foreboding and dread that permeates the poem.
The Furies is a powerful and haunting poem that explores the themes of death, despair, and the human condition. Kees uses vivid imagery, metaphors, and symbolism to create a dark and eerie atmosphere that is both haunting and powerful. The poem is a reminder of the fragility and impermanence of human life, and it challenges us to confront the existential crises that afflict us all. In short, The Furies is a classic poem that deserves to be read and appreciated by all lovers of poetry.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Furies by Weldon Kees is a classic poem that has been studied and analyzed by scholars and poetry enthusiasts alike. This poem is a masterpiece of modernist poetry that explores the themes of death, despair, and the human condition. In this article, we will take a closer look at The Furies and analyze its structure, language, and themes.
The Furies is a poem that is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of the human condition. The first part of the poem is titled "The Furies" and it describes the three mythological figures that represent vengeance, jealousy, and anger. The second part of the poem is titled "The End of Love" and it explores the theme of love and its inevitable end. The third and final part of the poem is titled "The Death of Friends" and it deals with the theme of death and the loss of loved ones.
The structure of The Furies is unique and it reflects the modernist style of poetry. The poem is written in free verse, which means that it does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or meter. This allows the poet to experiment with language and to create a more natural and conversational tone. The poem is also divided into three parts, each of which has its own distinct tone and style.
The language used in The Furies is simple and direct, but it is also powerful and evocative. The poet uses vivid imagery and metaphors to convey his message and to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. For example, in the first part of the poem, the Furies are described as "three black birds / that circle the sky / with wings of steel." This image is both menacing and beautiful, and it captures the essence of the Furies as mythological figures.
The themes explored in The Furies are universal and timeless. The poem deals with the human condition and the emotions that we all experience at some point in our lives. The first part of the poem explores the theme of vengeance and the destructive power of anger. The Furies are described as "three black birds / that circle the sky / with wings of steel," and they represent the destructive power of anger and jealousy. The second part of the poem explores the theme of love and its inevitable end. The poet describes the end of love as "a slow decay / that eats away / at the heart." This image is both beautiful and tragic, and it captures the essence of love as a fleeting and fragile emotion. The third and final part of the poem deals with the theme of death and the loss of loved ones. The poet describes the death of friends as "a wound that never heals," and he captures the essence of grief and loss in a few simple words.
In conclusion, The Furies by Weldon Kees is a masterpiece of modernist poetry that explores the themes of death, despair, and the human condition. The poem is structured in three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of the human experience. The language used in the poem is simple and direct, but it is also powerful and evocative. The themes explored in the poem are universal and timeless, and they resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds. The Furies is a classic poem that will continue to be studied and analyzed for generations to come.
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