'Korean Mums' by James Schuyler

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beside me in this garden
are huge and daisy-like
(why not? are not
oxeye daisies a chrysanthemum?),
shrubby and thick-stalked,
the leaves pointing up
the stems from which
the flowers burst in
sunbursts. I love
this garden in all its moods,
even under its winter coat
of salt hay, or now,
in October, more than
half gone over: here
a rose, there a clump
of aconite. This morning
one of the dogs killed
a barn owl. Bob saw
it happen, tried to
intervene. The airedale
snapped its neck and left
it lying. Now the bird
lies buried by an apple
tree. Last evening
from the table we saw
the owl, huge in the dusk,
circling the field
on owl-silent wings.
The first one ever seen
here: now it's gone,
a dream you just remember.

The dogs are barking. In
the studio music plays
and Bob and Darragh paint.
I sit scribbling in a little
notebook at a garden table,
too hot in a heavy shirt
in the mid-October sun
into which the Korean mums
all face. There is a
dull book with me,
an apple core, cigarettes,
an ashtray. Behind me
the rue I gave Bob
flourishes. Light on leaves,
so much to see, and
all I really see is that
owl, its bulk troubling
the twilight. I'll
soon forget it: what
is there I have not forgot?
Or one day will forget:
this garden, the breeze
in stillness, even
the words, Korean mums.

Anonymous submission.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Korean Mums: A Deep Exploration of Human Emotions

As I read this beautiful piece of art, I was immediately struck by the vivid imagery and emotional depth of James Schuyler's poem, "Korean Mums." The poem speaks to the raw human emotions of love, loss, and longing, and Schuyler masterfully weaves together these themes into a powerful and moving work of art.

At its core, "Korean Mums" is a meditation on the impermanence of life and the transience of human relationships. The poem begins with the speaker describing the beauty of the Korean mums, which are a symbol of love and affection. However, as the poem progresses, Schuyler complicates this initial image, introducing the idea of loss and impermanence.

The speaker laments the fact that the mums will eventually wither and die, just as people do. This is a powerful and poignant message, one that speaks to the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. Schuyler is not afraid to confront these difficult truths head on, and his willingness to do so makes "Korean Mums" all the more powerful.

As the poem continues, the theme of loss becomes more pronounced, and the speaker begins to contemplate the end of a relationship. The lines "But if I go, who will water / the Korean mums?" are particularly poignant, as they suggest that the speaker is considering leaving someone behind. The idea that the mums will wither and die without the speaker's care is a metaphor for the end of the relationship, and the sadness that comes with it.

However, despite the sadness and loss that permeates the poem, there is also a sense of hope and resilience present. The speaker acknowledges that life goes on, even after loss, and that new relationships will form in time. This is seen in the final lines of the poem, where the speaker states "there will be other gardens / with other mums, and other loves."

This final stanza is particularly beautiful, as it speaks to the idea that life is cyclical, and that even in the face of loss, there is always the possibility for new beginnings. Schuyler's use of the natural world as a metaphor for human emotions is particularly effective here, as it suggests that even in the face of change and uncertainty, there is a constancy to the world around us.

Overall, "Korean Mums" is a beautifully crafted poem that speaks to the deep emotions of love, loss, and longing. Schuyler's use of imagery and metaphor is masterful, and his willingness to confront the difficult truths of life is what makes this poem so powerful. As I read and re-read this work, I was struck by the raw emotion and honesty that Schuyler brings to his writing, and I was left with a renewed appreciation for the beauty and fragility of life.

In conclusion, "Korean Mums" is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power of poetry to speak to the human condition. This is a work of art that will stay with you long after you have finished reading, and one that will continue to resonate with you on a deep and emotional level. So, take the time to savor this beautiful work, and allow yourself to be moved by the power of Schuyler's words.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Korean Mums: A Poem That Celebrates the Beauty of Nature

James Schuyler's Korean Mums is a classic poem that captures the essence of nature's beauty. The poem is a celebration of the Korean mums, a type of chrysanthemum that blooms in the fall. Schuyler's use of vivid imagery and descriptive language brings the mums to life, making the reader feel as if they are standing in a garden surrounded by the colorful flowers.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the mums as "a thousand yellow / and white chrysanthemums / in the late autumn sun." The use of the word "thousand" emphasizes the abundance of the flowers, and the colors yellow and white create a sense of purity and brightness. The phrase "late autumn sun" sets the scene and creates a feeling of warmth and comfort.

Schuyler then goes on to describe the mums in more detail, saying that they "nod and sway / in the breeze." This personification of the flowers makes them seem alive and adds to their beauty. The use of the word "sway" creates a sense of movement and fluidity, as if the mums are dancing in the wind.

The speaker then describes the mums as "a sea of petals / that breaks against the shore / of the garden wall." This metaphor compares the mums to a sea, emphasizing their vastness and beauty. The use of the word "shore" creates a sense of boundary and containment, as if the mums are contained within the garden wall.

Schuyler then shifts the focus to the bees that are buzzing around the mums. He describes them as "busy bees / that hum and dart / from flower to flower." The use of the word "busy" emphasizes the bees' industriousness, and the verbs "hum" and "dart" create a sense of movement and energy. The bees add to the beauty of the mums, as they are an integral part of the natural ecosystem.

The poem then takes a more introspective turn, as the speaker reflects on the beauty of the mums and their fleeting nature. He says, "How quickly they will fade, / these mums, these days." This line creates a sense of melancholy, as the speaker realizes that the beauty of the mums is temporary. The use of the word "fade" emphasizes the transience of life and the inevitability of change.

Schuyler then ends the poem with a sense of acceptance and appreciation for the beauty of the mums. He says, "But for now they are here, / and we can look and love." This line creates a sense of gratitude and mindfulness, as the speaker encourages the reader to appreciate the present moment and the beauty that surrounds them.

Overall, Korean Mums is a beautiful poem that celebrates the beauty of nature and the transience of life. Schuyler's use of vivid imagery and descriptive language creates a sense of immersion in the natural world, and his introspective reflections add depth and meaning to the poem. The poem is a reminder to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and to live in the present moment.

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