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Chosen Poem IV (finally posted)

A portion of the long poem, The Throne of Labdacus.
by Gjertrud SchnackenbergWhat is: a leaking through of events
From beyond the bourn of right and wrong;

What is: a sequence of accidents
Without a cause,

Or from which the cause
Is long-lost, like a ruthless jewel

Missing from an archaic setting’s
Empty, bent, but still aggressive prongs.

Topics for Discussion:
– meta-formal qualities: “a ruthless jewel”(li.6) is the title of Section Eight of this long poem
– couplets, unrhymed, roughly iambic with heavy substitution: the first and last couplet have 9 syllables (one short of pentameter), all of the rest of the lines fall even shorter than this (down to dimeter, line 4) the poem is questioning “what is” incompleteness? Hence, the couplets themselves are incomplete
– This poem is also in dialogue with the last poem: the couplets prior to this section have exact masculine rhymes and convey how the story of Oedipus was circulated through Thebes “in a whispering poetry” (p.6,li.27), ending with the un-rhymed pair, “simply a making known-/ Making known what is.” (p.7,li.41-42).
– Therefore, Schnackenberg sets up this short “lyric” within the long poem, as a questioning and probing of exactly that which poetry is NOT: “a sequence of accidents/ Without a cause”
– The poem leaves the reader with an incredibly strong image of form itself, however, and Schnackenberg is consistent with providing these images throughout her work: the setting of the ring, devoid of a jewel, implies a frame narrative without the intention, the completion, the beauty that would make it a poem

Original post by Whitney

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