'Machines' by Michael Donaghy
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Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsicord pavane by Purcell
And the racer's twelve-speed bike.
The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.
So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante's heaven, and melt into the air.
If it doesn't, of course, I've fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsicordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.
Editor 1 Interpretation
#Machines by Michael Donaghy
When it comes to exploring the relationship between human beings and machines, few poems have captured the essence of this relationship as brilliantly as Michael Donaghy's "Machines". Written in the early 2000s, this poem delves deep into the human psyche and explores our fascination with machines, how they have become a part of our daily lives, and how they have altered the way we live, work, and think.
Before we dive into the analysis of this poem, let's take a look at its structure and language. "Machines" is a sonnet, but it's not your traditional sonnet. The poem doesn't follow the usual rhyme scheme of a sonnet, nor does it have the typical fourteen lines. Instead, it's divided into two stanzas, the first one consisting of five lines and the second of nine.
The language used in the poem is simple, yet powerful. Donaghy's choice of words is deliberate, and every word in the poem serves a purpose. The poem doesn't have any complex metaphors or symbols; instead, it uses everyday objects to convey its message.
The theme of the poem is the relationship between human beings and machines. The poem explores how machines have become a part of our lives, and how they have altered the way we live and work. The poem also highlights the fascination we have with machines, and how we often take them for granted.
The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It describes the machines we encounter in our daily lives, from the photocopiers in our offices to the washing machines in our homes. The stanza suggests that we have become so accustomed to these machines that we don't even notice them anymore.
The second stanza of the poem takes a more philosophical approach. It questions the relationship between human beings and machines and asks whether we have become too reliant on them. The stanza suggests that machines have altered the way we think and perceive the world around us. We have become so immersed in the world of machines that we have forgotten what it means to be human.
The opening line of the poem, "Dearest, note how these two are alike," sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker is addressing someone, presumably a loved one, and is asking them to pay attention to the machines around them. The use of the word "dearest" suggests that the speaker is trying to make a point, and that point is important.
The first stanza of the poem describes the machines we encounter in our daily lives. The speaker describes how the photocopiers in our offices and the washing machines in our homes are similar. They both have "black holes" that swallow things up, and they both have "lids of metal" that "rise from the commonest of things". The use of the word "black holes" is particularly significant. It suggests that these machines have a gravitational pull that draws us in.
The second stanza of the poem takes a more philosophical approach. The speaker questions the relationship between human beings and machines and asks whether we have become too reliant on them. The line "Nowhere does our breath mark so dark a sphere" suggests that machines have altered the way we perceive the world around us. We have become so immersed in the world of machines that we have forgotten what it means to be human.
The use of the word "soul" in the line "We think each one will heave to and reveal its soul" is particularly significant. It suggests that we have imbued these machines with a soul, and that we have placed too much importance on them. The line "And oddly they are not so different from us" suggests that we have become too much like machines, and that we have lost touch with our humanity.
The final line of the poem, "We have created them," is particularly powerful. It suggests that we are responsible for the machines we have created, and that we need to take responsibility for them. The line suggests that we have a responsibility to use these machines wisely, and that we need to be mindful of their impact on our lives.
In conclusion, Michael Donaghy's "Machines" is a powerful exploration of the relationship between human beings and machines. The poem highlights our fascination with machines, how they have become a part of our daily lives, and how they have altered the way we live, work, and think. The poem also questions whether we have become too reliant on machines, and whether we have lost touch with our humanity.
The language used in the poem is simple, yet powerful, and every word in the poem serves a purpose. Donaghy's use of everyday objects to convey his message is particularly effective, and it allows the reader to connect with the poem on a deeper level.
Overall, "Machines" is a thought-provoking poem that forces us to question our relationship with machines. It reminds us that while machines have the power to make our lives easier, we need to be mindful of their impact on our lives and on the world around us.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Machines: A Poem That Celebrates the Beauty of Technology
Technology has always been an integral part of human civilization. From the invention of the wheel to the development of the internet, technology has played a crucial role in shaping our world. However, not everyone appreciates the beauty of technology. Some people view machines as cold, lifeless objects that are devoid of any emotion or creativity. But Michael Donaghy's poem "Machines" challenges this notion and celebrates the beauty of technology in a unique and powerful way.
The poem begins with a simple yet profound statement: "Dearest, note how these two are alike." The "two" in question are a sewing machine and a locomotive, two very different machines that share a common trait: they both have a "heart." Donaghy uses the metaphor of a "heart" to describe the engine of the locomotive and the mechanism of the sewing machine. This metaphorical language is significant because it imbues these machines with a sense of life and vitality that is often overlooked.
The poem goes on to describe the intricate workings of these machines in vivid detail. Donaghy describes the "steel muscles" of the locomotive and the "delicate-filmed" fingers of the sewing machine. He also notes the "bright belt" of the locomotive and the "soft throat" of the sewing machine. These descriptions are not just poetic flourishes; they serve to highlight the beauty and complexity of these machines.
Donaghy also uses sound to great effect in this poem. He describes the "chuffing" and "purring" of the locomotive and the "whirring" and "clicking" of the sewing machine. These onomatopoeic words not only add to the sensory experience of the poem but also emphasize the mechanical nature of these machines.
One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the way in which Donaghy compares these machines to living creatures. He describes the locomotive as a "beast" and the sewing machine as a "creature." This comparison is significant because it suggests that these machines are not just inanimate objects but rather living, breathing entities in their own right.
Donaghy also explores the relationship between humans and machines in this poem. He notes that the sewing machine is "like a woman" and the locomotive is "like a man." This gendered language is interesting because it suggests that these machines have distinct personalities and characteristics that are similar to those of human beings. It also highlights the way in which humans have anthropomorphized machines throughout history.
The final stanza of the poem is particularly powerful. Donaghy writes, "Now they are worlds apart, / And neither can leap the gulf / To destroy the other." This statement is significant because it suggests that machines and humans are fundamentally different and cannot be compared or pitted against each other. It also implies that machines are not a threat to humanity but rather a complement to it.
In conclusion, Michael Donaghy's poem "Machines" is a powerful celebration of the beauty and complexity of technology. Through his use of metaphor, sensory language, and anthropomorphism, Donaghy imbues these machines with a sense of life and vitality that is often overlooked. He also explores the relationship between humans and machines and suggests that they are fundamentally different but complementary entities. This poem is a testament to the power and beauty of technology and a reminder that machines are not just cold, lifeless objects but rather living, breathing entities in their own right.
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