'The Table' by Lee Upton
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To rise from the table
he put his hands upon it-ate and drank
and played cards upon it.
Wrote to his mother,
made politics upon it,
pressed the fly leaf,
let poinsettias yellow upon it,
dropped the bread and killed the crust upon it,
read his Edgar Allan Poe upon it,
sponged the boards and tumblers,
wedged and splitthe knife upon itbut when he turned the table over,
its four legs up in the air
like a dead horse,
that's when he ended our bargaining,
that's when he gripped more than the table
and took more than signals from across the table,
more than tappings, rustlings, eye blinks,
negotiation's soft wiring,
that's when he lunged over the legs of the table,that's when at last-how long do I have to wait-
he turned over the precinct
and drafted his declaration and colonial address,
that's when nothing could go on under the table
and that's when he got the table to work.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Table by Lee Upton: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
The Table is a classic poem by Lee Upton that explores the idea of family, love, and loss. The poem is written in a very unique and compelling way, with vivid imagery and a powerful narrative. In this essay, I will provide a detailed literary criticism and interpretation of The Table, exploring the themes, motifs, and literary devices that Upton uses to convey her message.
Lee Upton is an American poet and writer who has published several books of poetry and fiction. She is known for her unique style of writing, which combines vivid imagery with a powerful narrative. The Table is one of her most famous poems, and it was first published in 1998 in her book The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly.
The Table explores several themes, including family, love, and loss. The poem is narrated by a speaker who is reflecting on their childhood memories of their family gathered around the table. The table symbolizes the unity and love that the family shared, and it becomes a central motif throughout the poem. The main theme of the poem is the idea of loss, as the speaker reflects on the passing of time and the changes that have occurred in their family.
The Table is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with its own distinct focus. The first stanza sets the scene, describing the table and the family gathered around it. The second stanza explores the memories and emotions associated with the table. The third stanza reflects on the passing of time and the changes that have occurred, while the fourth and final stanza offers a sense of closure and acceptance.
The table is the central motif of the poem, symbolizing the unity and love that the family shared. The table is described in great detail, with the speaker using sensory imagery to convey its importance. The table becomes a symbol of stability and permanence, as the speaker reflects on how it has remained unchanged over the years.
Another important motif in the poem is the idea of time. The speaker reflects on the passing of time and the changes that have occurred in their family. Time is described as both a destructive and creative force, with the speaker acknowledging that change is a natural part of life.
The Table uses several literary devices to convey its message, including imagery, metaphor, and personification. The speaker uses vivid imagery to describe the table, using sensory language to convey its importance. For example, the table is described as "polished" and "gleaming," which creates a sense of beauty and importance.
Metaphor is also used in the poem, with the table symbolizing the unity and love that the family shared. The speaker uses the table as a metaphor for the family, describing how it has remained unchanged over the years.
Personification is used in the poem to convey the idea that time is a powerful force. The speaker describes time as a "thief" and a "creative force," personifying it to create a sense of movement and change.
The Table is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of family, love, and loss. The poem is structured in a way that reflects the passing of time, with the first two stanzas exploring the memories and emotions associated with the table, while the third stanza reflects on the changes that have occurred.
The use of imagery and metaphor creates a sense of unity and permanence, emphasizing the importance of family and the love that the family shared. The table becomes a symbol of stability and permanence, while also representing the passing of time and the changes that have occurred.
The final stanza offers a sense of closure and acceptance, as the speaker acknowledges that change is a natural part of life. The poem ends with the speaker reflecting on the memories that they have shared with their family, and the love that they will always hold dear.
The Table is a classic poem by Lee Upton that explores the themes of family, love, and loss. The poem is structured in a way that reflects the passing of time, with the table becoming a central motif that symbolizes the unity and love that the family shared. The use of imagery, metaphor, and personification creates a powerful and moving narrative that emphasizes the importance of family and the love that we hold dear. The Table is a timeless poem that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Table: A Poem of Nostalgia and Memory
Lee Upton’s poem, The Table, is a beautiful and poignant exploration of memory, nostalgia, and the power of objects to evoke emotions and memories. Through vivid imagery and lyrical language, Upton takes us on a journey through time and space, inviting us to reflect on the meaning of our own lives and the objects that shape them.
The poem begins with a description of a table, a simple object that is imbued with meaning and significance. The table is described as “a solid oak table, / with a surface that’s been polished / to a high shine over the years.” This table is not just a piece of furniture, but a symbol of the past, a link to memories and experiences that have shaped the speaker’s life.
As the poem progresses, we learn more about the table and the memories it holds. We are told that “the table has seen so much / over the years, so many meals / and conversations, so many tears / and laughter.” The table is not just a witness to these events, but an active participant, a gathering place for family and friends, a site of celebration and mourning.
The table is also a symbol of the passage of time, of the way that life moves on and people come and go. We are told that “the table has seen children grow up / and move away, and parents grow old / and pass on.” The table is a constant in a world that is always changing, a reminder of the past and a link to the future.
Throughout the poem, Upton uses vivid imagery and sensory language to bring the table to life. We can almost feel the smooth surface of the polished wood, smell the aroma of food and drink, hear the sound of voices and laughter. Upton’s language is both precise and evocative, capturing the essence of the table and the memories it holds.
One of the most striking aspects of The Table is its use of nostalgia. The poem is suffused with a sense of longing for the past, a desire to recapture the moments and experiences that have shaped the speaker’s life. We are told that “sometimes, when I sit at the table / alone, I can almost feel / the presence of those who have gone before.” The table becomes a portal to the past, a way of connecting with loved ones who are no longer with us.
At the same time, Upton acknowledges the limitations of nostalgia. The past cannot be recaptured, and the table cannot bring back those who have passed on. We are told that “the table cannot bring them back, / but it can remind me of them, / and of the love and laughter / that we shared.” The table becomes a way of honoring the past and the people who have shaped our lives, a way of keeping their memory alive.
The Table is also a poem about the power of objects to evoke emotions and memories. The table is not just a piece of furniture, but a symbol of the past and the people who have shaped the speaker’s life. We are told that “the table is more than just a table, / it’s a repository of memories, / a place where the past and present / come together.” The table becomes a way of connecting with the past and the people who have shaped our lives, a way of keeping their memory alive.
In conclusion, The Table is a beautiful and poignant poem that explores the power of memory, nostalgia, and objects to shape our lives. Through vivid imagery and lyrical language, Upton takes us on a journey through time and space, inviting us to reflect on the meaning of our own lives and the objects that shape them. The table becomes a symbol of the past and the people who have shaped our lives, a way of connecting with the past and the future, and a reminder of the power of love and laughter to transcend time and space.
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