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Friday, March 30, 2007

Poetry Analysis- Hollifield


Mrs. Hollifield said...

Anne Sexton - Elegy In The Classroom
In the thin classroom, where your face
was noble and your words were all things,
I find this boily creature in your place;

find you disarranged, squatting on the window sill,
irrefutably placed up there,
like a hunk of some big frog
watching us through the V
of your woolen legs.

Even so, I must admire your skill.
You are so gracefully insane.
We fidget in our plain chairs
and pretend to catalogue
our facts for your burly sorcery

or ignore your fat blind eyes
or the prince you ate yesterday
who was wise, wise, wise.

**What do you think? What is an elegy? What is going on in the poem? Happy Spring Break

Hirak said...

An elegy is a lament. In the poem, the teacher is wise but also crazy. His craziness gets the better of him at times, and so he transforms from a wise "prince" into a "boily creature" The poem laments his transformation.

Anna Le said...


I didn't know what a elegy or a lament are so I look the two words up and found:
Elegy - poem of mourning
Lament - poem expressing grief, regret, or mourning

T[title] - Is the elegy a person? The poem may be about either the teacher or an outcast of the class

P[paraphrase] - told from the view of a student representing the class.

1st stanza:
He observes his teacher who yesterday was respected and spoke with much intellect. Today the speaker observes a changed person taken over the wise teacher he once remembered.

2nd stanza:
The speaker sees the insanity upon the face of his teacher who is sitting at the window sill. What does this mean: "like a hunk of some big frog/ watching us through the V/ of your woolen legs."?

3rd stanza:
The speaker admires his teacher's insanity. The class sit in their desk quietly doing their busy work while observing their teacher.

4th stanza:
What does it mean: "ignore your fat blind eyes"? "Prince" must be referring to the wise teacher from yesterday.

I also look up some info on Anne Sexton and found she suffered from bipolarity. This poem maybe a elegy of a teacher who is intelligent, admirable, and wise however the teacher is often taken over by insanity.

I'll add more of the TPCAST tomorrow. Anyone is welcome to continue it.

Hirak said...

I looked into the background information of Ann Sexton and also found that Robert Lowell is possibly the teacher being discussed in the poem. He was insane but at the same time he was brilliant. Lowell taught Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath in a writer's workshop.
"your fat blind eyes" must refer to the vacant stare of the insane. The wiseness of yesterday has been replaced by the vaccuum of insanity.

Anna Le said...

Hey again!

Imagery: "thin classroom"
"boily creature"
"gracefully insane"
"fat blind eyes"
Figurative language:
repetition: "wise, wise, wise"
In the beginning of the poem, the speaker says the teacher's face was noble and the words spoken by the teacher mattered to him. In the 3rd stanza the speaker also mentions an admiration of "skill", by the 4th stanza I connected the image of nobility, intellect, and talent to the wise prince of yesterday.
simile: "like a hunk of some big frog"
Like i wrote yesterday, Sexton suffered from bipolarity that often led to sudden depression and attempted suicide. The contrasting images of a "frog" and "prince" presented in the poem represent how Sexton's sickness caused her to feel like "wise prince" one day and "a hunk of a frog" another day. "insanity" is the sickness.

I'm still pondering over "watching us through the V/ of your woolen legs". If anyone has any idea of what it means please post it.


Hirak said...

A[Attitude]-The attitude of the author is reverant towards her teacher. She is amazed about his transformation but also shows reverance towards his intelligent side.
"watching us through the V-shape of your legs". If we take it literally, it means watching us through the gap of the legs. It is probably meant to enhance the idea of the teacher's insanity because normally someone wouldn't do that.

Anna Le said...

S[Shifts] -
Line 3: "I find this boily creature in your place;"
--> The observation of the teacher is described by his student or the speaker. There is a shift from a face of nobility and intellect to the face of a "boily creature". Throughout the entire poem the speaker compares the image of his once respectable teacher to a teacher of disarray. Gradually a realization is developed, insanity has taken over the image and soul of the wise teacher.

Line 9: "Even so, I must admire your skill."
--> Shifts from just observing a creature in stanza 2 to observing a changed person who is "gracefully insane."

Rachel Allan said...

I believe the theme of the poem laments over the loss of the sense of greatness and deserved respect that were once attributed to individualism. Now it is viewed as being "strange" or "weird" instead of unique and creative when someone is different from the imaginary standard of norm.

This theme is reflected in the imagery used for the creative thinker, possibly Anne Sexton herself, as being a "boily creature" and "hunk of some big frog". Artists, writers, and composers can all be described as being "gracefully insane" in respect to their ability to think on different levels of comprehension and expression. Even though they are able to explore the more volatile dimensions of thinking, they are still able to return to a accepted level of sanity, therefore they are "gracefully insane".

Rachel Allan said...

attempt at exploring "watching us through the V of your woolen legs":

to look through your legs would meen to view the world upside-down with your back to everyting. This could be in relation to having the ability to see the world through different, unique perspectives. Wool is a very durable material that is especially good at insulating. Maybe the creative thinker chooses to keep his/her ideas inside and not share them with the discerning eye of the "student body" so quick to taunt and belittle new opinions. At the same time the wool could be protecting the person from these hurtful feelings. Instead, he/she chooses just to observe and interpret through the V.

Rachel Allan said...

now that i've looked the poem over again i realize maybe i misinterpreted the poem and it's actually about the disappearance of respect for TEACHERS. i still think it could be viewed either way, but the teacher was probably the intended subject. what i've said before will translate over anyway.

Anna Le said...

I agree with Rachel's two figurative interpretation of the poem, one about the creative thinkers of society and one about the lost of respect and appreciation for teachers.

Creative thinkers from artists, musicians, and poets such as Anne Sexton struggle in their passions and careers."the thin classroom" represents the majority of society that thinks too "thin" or on the surface. At the peak of the creative thinker's career society will recognize the importance of their words and skill. However society also sees the creative thinker's depressing struggles, descriptions such as "disarranged", "hunk of some frog", "gracefully insane", "burly sorcery", and "fat blind eyes," reveal how society looks at only the appearance of these individuals.

I'll add more later . . .

Rachel Allan said...

I'm not sure what it means by "fat blind eyes", seeing as someone who is creative or intelligent would have a clearer, more vivid perspective than someone who is plain and closed-minded.
Maybe he/she is "blind" to the fact that they are "wrong" when it comes to being normal?

Hirak said...

So Ann Sexton wants to show how uniqueness is drowned out in today's society. "Burly sorcery" seems to compare the teacher to a witch. Perhaps she is saying that society is on a witchhunt to ostracize those that don't conform. Those around her may have thought her weird instead of embracing her creativity.

Rachel Allan said...

there is no rhythym or rhyme scheme in this poem, maybe to further put across the uniqueness which follows no set pattern in this free verse.

(sorry for posting my comments in only the span of two days. we just got back from FL yesterday)

Hirak said...

"Fat blind eyes" could be the classroom's opinion of the teacher's uniqueness. The teacher is blind to their idea of normal. The "sickness" overshadows the intelligence of the teacher in their eyes. In society, we tend to overlook the work that insane people have done.

Mrs. Hollifield said...

Wow! I'm so impressed with the dialogue you three have going! There is obviously some great thinking going on here. Thanks!!

Miss Caston said...

I'm impressed as well. Keep peeling that onion!

Annette said...

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Anne Brashares, is a timeless series journeying through the life of four teenage girls. Through their experiences and heartaches, Brashares truly does capitvate what it is like to grow up. The four characters; Tibby, "Bee", Lena, and Carmen are characterized in such a way that it is IMPOSSIBLE not to fall in love with them. This book is a MUST READ and i went through series after series in no time. I would reccomend this book to anyone of ALL ages. It is a timeless series that really does portray friendship, growing up, and individuality like no other book i have ever read. For anyone whose looking for a book to fall in love with, remember the name "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," by Anne Brashares.

ronnie f said...

i don't like poetry but Devin Foltz's "Snow" really moved me