'Dead March' by Weldon Kees
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Under the bunker, where the reek of kerosenePrepared the marriage rite, leader and whore,Imperfect kindling even in this wind, burn on.Someone in uniform hums Brahms. Servants prepare
Eyewitness stories as the night comes down, as smoking coals await
Boots on the stone, the occupying troops. Howl ministers.Deep in Kyffhauser Mountain's underground,The Holy Roman Emperor snores on, in sleep enduringSeven centuries. His long red beardGrows through the table to the floor. He moves a little.
Far in the labyrinth, low thunder rumbles and dies out.
Twitch and lie still. Is Hitler now in the Himalayas?We are in Cleveland, or Sioux Falls. The architecture
Seems like Omaha, the air pumped in from Düsseldorf.
Cold rain keeps dripping just outside the bars. The testiclesBurst on the table as the commissar
Untwists the vise, removes his gloves, puts down
Editor 1 Interpretation
"Dead March" by Weldon Kees: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
As a lover of poetry, I am always on the lookout for pieces that challenge me and leave a lasting impression. One such work is "Dead March" by Weldon Kees, an American poet and artist who lived from 1914 to 1955. This poem, which was published in 1943, is raw, haunting, and deeply emotional, and it speaks to the struggles and anxieties of the human condition. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will analyze the themes, structure, and language of "Dead March" and show how they contribute to the poem's overall meaning and impact.
"Dead March" is a poem that deals with themes of death, loss, and despair. The speaker of the poem is mourning the death of someone close to him, and he is struggling to cope with the weight of his grief. The poem is also a meditation on the fragility of life and the inevitability of our own mortality. The speaker reflects on his own mortality, and he wonders what it will be like to die, and what legacy he will leave behind. In this sense, "Dead March" is a poem that speaks to the universal human experience of loss and grief.
The structure of "Dead March" is simple but effective. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with four lines, and each line has a consistent syllable count. The structure of the poem is reminiscent of a funeral march, which is fitting given the poem's subject matter. The regularity of the structure also gives the poem a sense of stability, which is in contrast to the speaker's emotional turmoil. The poem is also notable for its lack of punctuation, which gives the poem a sense of breathlessness and urgency.
The language of "Dead March" is sparse but powerful. The poem is written in the first person, which gives the poem a sense of intimacy and immediacy. The language is also marked by its use of vivid imagery, which helps to convey the speaker's emotions. For example, the line "My heart is like a cinder" is a powerful metaphor that conveys the speaker's sense of emotional numbness. The language of the poem is also marked by its use of repetition. The line "The dead are always looking down on us" is repeated twice, which gives the poem a sense of inevitability.
At its core, "Dead March" is a poem about the human experience of loss and grief. The speaker of the poem is mourning the death of someone close to him, and he is struggling to come to terms with his own mortality. The image of the dead looking down on the living is a powerful one, and it speaks to the idea that death is an inevitable part of the human experience. The poem is also a meditation on the meaning of life and the legacy that we leave behind. The speaker wonders what he will be remembered for, and whether his life will have had any real impact.
In conclusion, "Dead March" by Weldon Kees is a haunting and powerful poem that speaks to the universal human experience of loss and grief. The poem's themes of death and mortality, its structure, and its language all work together to create a powerful and emotionally resonant piece of literature. As a lover of poetry, I am always on the lookout for works that challenge me and leave a lasting impression, and "Dead March" is certainly one such work.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Dead March: A Masterpiece of Modern Poetry
Weldon Kees, an American poet, painter, and jazz pianist, is known for his unique style of poetry that often deals with themes of alienation, despair, and the search for identity. One of his most famous works, Poetry Dead March, is a haunting and powerful poem that captures the essence of the modernist movement in poetry.
The poem, written in 1953, is a reflection on the state of poetry in the post-World War II era. Kees was a part of a generation of poets who were disillusioned with the traditional forms of poetry and sought to break away from the constraints of rhyme and meter. Poetry Dead March is a testament to this rebellion, as it is written in free verse and lacks any discernible rhyme scheme.
The poem begins with the line, "The poetry of earth is never dead," a reference to John Keats' famous line from his poem On the Grasshopper and Cricket. However, Kees subverts this sentiment by stating that "The poetry of earth is dead," and goes on to describe the decay and destruction that has befallen the world of poetry.
Kees laments the loss of the great poets of the past, such as Shakespeare, Keats, and Shelley, and the lack of new voices to take their place. He describes the current state of poetry as "a field of dry grass," where "the poets are dead, the poems are dead, the readers are dead." This bleak outlook on the state of poetry is a reflection of the larger cultural and societal changes that were taking place in America at the time.
Kees also critiques the commercialization of poetry, where poets are more concerned with making a profit than creating meaningful art. He describes the "poetry factories" that churn out formulaic and uninspired poetry, and the "poetry readers" who consume it without any critical thought or engagement.
The poem takes a turn towards the end, as Kees shifts his focus to the individual poet and their struggle to create in a world that is hostile to their art. He describes the poet as a "lonely man," who is "lost in the wilderness of words." This image of the poet as a solitary figure, struggling to find their voice in a world that does not value their art, is a recurring theme in Kees' poetry.
The final lines of the poem are a call to action, as Kees urges the reader to "rise up, poets, rise up!" and to "make the dead march again." This call to action is a reminder that poetry is not dead, but rather in a state of transformation. Kees is challenging his fellow poets to break free from the constraints of tradition and to create something new and meaningful.
In conclusion, Poetry Dead March is a masterpiece of modern poetry that captures the essence of the post-World War II era. Kees' use of free verse and his bleak outlook on the state of poetry are a reflection of the larger cultural and societal changes that were taking place in America at the time. However, the poem also offers a glimmer of hope, as Kees urges his fellow poets to rise up and create something new and meaningful. Poetry may be dead, but it is not gone forever.
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