Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Look at Szymborska

The first poem I looked at was "A Moment in Troy." This poem discusses adolescent girls and their worries about their beauty and future, juxtaposed with the glamorous visions of themselves as Helen in the legend Troy. The first four stanzas tell of girls observing themselves and feeling inferior, while the next three stanzas describe what it would be to be Helen. The rest of the poem is darker and more violent as the girls mentally punish those around them for their own shortcomings, and then come back to reality.
The next poem I looked at was "Soliloquy for Cassandra." This, for those that do not know their Greek mythology, is a poem about the prophet Cassandra, who was cursed to never be believed. She tried to warn the city of Troy about their impending doom upon bringing the horse into the city, but, again, the townsfolk did not believe her. So, Troy was destroyed. This story tells us how Cassandra was treated in the third stanza, but we we see that now, her prophecy has come true and Troy and everything around her are now ashes. Cassandra tells us how lonely it has been living in the future, and now she left with only her possessions and "A face that didn't know it could be beautiful." I actually am not sure what to make of that last line, but I'd guess it's something about how ignored she was before the fall of Troy.
The last poem I looked did not deal with Troy, but still references history. "Beheading" is a poem referencing the death of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the rise of Queen Elizabeth I, who followed her. The poem starts off telling us about beheading, and tells of the "shift." The shift is the actual beheading, which acts as a shift because Queen Elizabeth would take the throne upon Mary's death. We are told the shift was "decollete," or low cut, and "red as a hemorrhage." These are self-explanatory. The next stanza tells us about Queen Elizabeth, who is standing triumphantly in her white dress, in contrast to the red of "Bloody" Mary, and how it is buttoned to the chin, an almost protective dress, given what had just happened to her sister. The third stanza tells us they both thought the same things that day, but clearly for very different reasons. The last stanza explains to us why this the reasons are different.

1 comment:

Jane Perrignon said...

In reference to "Beheading" I am afraid you have interpreted it historically very wrong. The poem is indeed about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, however you seem to believe it is Mary Tudor, the older sister of Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth is witnessing the beheading of her cousin Mary Stuart who was seen as a threat to Elizabeth's place on the throne that she held at this time. Elizabeth ordered Mary Queen of Scots to be beheaded under the threat of her plotting to kill Elizabeth and take the throne. So no, it is not "bloody Mary" who is wearing a red chemise in the poem and Elizabeth is not standing triumphantly in hope to become Queen. In fact they are both hoping to be saved. "Lord, have mercy on me" they both think, as both are scared (although more obviously Mary) of being killed.