'Interregnum' by Weldon Kees
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Butcher the evil millionaire, peasant,
And leave him stinking in the square.
Torture the chancellor. Leave the ambassador
Strung by his thumbs from the pleasant
Embassy wall, where the vines were.
Then drill your hogs and sons for another war.Fire on the screaming crowd, ambassador,
Sick chancellor, brave millionaire,
And name them by the name that is your name.
Give privilege to the wound, and maim
The last resister. Poison the air
And mew for peace, for order, and for war.View with alarm, participant, observer,
Buried in medals from the time before.
Whisper, then believe and serve and die
And drape fresh bunting on the hemisphere
From here to India. This is the world you buy
When the wind blows fresh for war.Hide in the dark alone, objector;
Ask a grenade what you are living for,
Or drink this knowledge from the mud.
To an abyss more terrible than war
Descend and tunnel toward a barrier
Away from anything that moves with blood.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Interpreting Interregnum: A Deep Dive into Weldon Kees’ Poetic Masterpiece
As a literary critic and poetry enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by Weldon Kees’ works. His unique style, haunting imagery, and introspective themes make his poems a treasure trove for any reader who loves to delve into the human psyche.
One of his most celebrated works, Interregnum, holds a special place in my heart. This enigmatic poem captures the mood of a society in flux, struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of war and the uncertainties of a new era. In this literary analysis, I will attempt to unravel the hidden meanings and symbols in Interregnum and explore the themes that make this poem a timeless masterpiece.
The Setting and Structure of Interregnum
Interregnum is a complex poem that defies easy categorization. It is neither a narrative nor a lyric, but a blend of both, with elements of surrealism and modernism. The poem is divided into three parts, each with its distinct imagery and tone.
The first part introduces the setting, a city that is in a state of transition. The images of deserted streets, empty buildings, and a sense of foreboding create a feeling of unease and uncertainty. The second part shifts the focus to the people who inhabit this city, each struggling to find their place in the new order. The final part brings together the themes of the previous sections and ends with a powerful image of hope amidst desolation.
Reading Between the Lines: Symbolism in Interregnum
The beauty of Interregnum lies in the layers of symbolism that permeate the poem. Kees uses objects, colors, and natural phenomena to create a rich tapestry of meaning that reveals the deeper truths of human experience.
One of the most striking images in Interregnum is the empty streets of the city. This image represents the aftermath of war, the destruction and displacement that accompany any conflict. The absence of people reflects the sense of loss and disconnection that people feel when their world is turned upside down.
Another symbol that appears throughout the poem is the color grey. Grey represents the ambiguity and uncertainty of the interregnum period, the limbo between the old and the new. The lack of color suggests the absence of life, vitality, and hope, which are necessary for any society to thrive.
The natural phenomena in the poem also carry symbolic weight. The image of the moon, for example, represents the cyclical nature of life, the ebb and flow of human emotions. The moon also symbolizes the passage of time, which can either heal or deepen wounds depending on how it is used.
Themes of Interregnum: Displacement, Identity, and Hope
Interregnum is a poem that touches on several themes that are relevant to the modern world. One of the central themes is displacement, the feeling of being uprooted from one’s home and forced to adapt to a new reality. This theme is reflected in the images of deserted streets and empty buildings, which suggest the loss of a sense of place and belonging.
Another theme that runs throughout the poem is identity, the struggle to define oneself in a world that is constantly changing. The people in the poem are trying to find their place in the new order, but they are uncertain of who they are or what they stand for. This theme is reflected in the use of the color grey, which represents the ambiguity and lack of clarity that people feel when their identity is in flux.
Despite the bleak imagery and sense of foreboding that pervade the poem, Interregnum ends on a note of hope. The final lines of the poem suggest that even in the midst of desolation, there is a glimmer of light that can guide us forward. This theme of hope is reflected in the image of the moon, which suggests that even in the darkest night, there is always the possibility of a new dawn.
Interregnum is a poem that continues to resonate with readers today, more than half a century after it was first published. Its themes of displacement, identity, and hope are as relevant now as they were then, and its intricate symbolism and rich imagery make it a masterpiece of modern poetry.
In this literary analysis, I have attempted to unravel some of the hidden meanings and symbols in Interregnum, and explore the themes that make this poem a timeless classic. As I close this analysis, I am left with a sense of awe and wonder at the power of poetry to capture the complexities of the human experience and reveal the deeper truths that lie beneath the surface of our lives.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Interregnum: A Masterpiece of Modern Poetry
Weldon Kees, a renowned American poet, wrote the classic poem "Poetry Interregnum" in 1950. The poem is a masterpiece of modern poetry, and it has been widely studied and analyzed by scholars and poetry enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices to understand why it is considered a classic.
The poem is a reflection on the state of poetry in the mid-twentieth century. Kees was writing during a time when traditional forms of poetry were being challenged by new, experimental styles. The poem's title, "Poetry Interregnum," refers to a period of transition between two different forms of government. In this case, Kees is referring to the transition between traditional and modern poetry.
The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with six lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. Kees writes, "The time of year has grown indifferent. / Mildew of summer and the deepening snow / Are both alike in the routine I know: / I am too dumbly in my being pent." The speaker is expressing a sense of ennui and boredom with the world around him. He feels trapped in his routine and unable to break free.
The second stanza shifts the focus to poetry. Kees writes, "The wind attendant on the solstice blows / Beyond the dead-end street: / It blows a white flag from the far-off frost / And from the trees fierce with its meaningless / And chilling intimations to expose / The vacancy to come." The wind is a metaphor for the changing times in poetry. The "white flag" represents the surrender of traditional poetry to the new, experimental forms. The "chilling intimations" suggest that the speaker is apprehensive about what is to come.
The third stanza brings the poem to a close. Kees writes, "Here then is where you will find me / At the dead-end of dirt, / Neither with white flags nor with black, / But indistinguishable from the rutted / Terrain around me, gray / In this eternal season of the year." The speaker has resigned himself to his fate. He is neither with the traditionalists nor the modernists. He is stuck in the middle, unable to move forward or backward.
The poem's structure is significant. The three stanzas each have six lines, which creates a sense of symmetry and balance. The use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase runs over into the next line, creates a sense of flow and continuity. The poem's rhyme scheme is also noteworthy. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines. This creates a sense of harmony and unity within the poem.
Kees uses several literary devices to convey his message. The use of metaphor is prevalent throughout the poem. The wind is a metaphor for the changing times in poetry, while the "white flag" represents the surrender of traditional poetry to the new, experimental forms. The "chilling intimations" suggest that the speaker is apprehensive about what is to come.
The use of imagery is also significant. Kees describes the "mildew of summer" and the "deepening snow" to convey a sense of monotony and routine. The "white flag" blowing in the wind creates a powerful visual image, as does the "gray / In this eternal season of the year" in the final stanza.
The poem's tone is one of resignation and acceptance. The speaker has come to terms with his place in the world and in poetry. He is neither with the traditionalists nor the modernists. He is stuck in the middle, unable to move forward or backward. The poem's title, "Poetry Interregnum," suggests that this is a temporary state of affairs. Eventually, a new form of poetry will emerge, and the speaker will have to adapt once again.
In conclusion, "Poetry Interregnum" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. Kees uses metaphor, imagery, and structure to convey his message about the state of poetry in the mid-twentieth century. The poem's tone is one of resignation and acceptance, and the use of enjambment and rhyme scheme creates a sense of harmony and balance. The poem's title suggests that this is a temporary state of affairs, and eventually, a new form of poetry will emerge.
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