Can you Imagine? Nope

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I actually disagree that "Cargoes" is a very good at visual imagery because, like I stated in my last blog, I don't know much about the bible or history and some of the references were lost on me. Also, the time it took to look up each meaning took me out of the poem. The people that he wrote it for probably didn't have this problem though.

The book I reviewed, I had read years ago, and it really stuck with me so much so that I didn't even know it had. Interesting fact about me: For a couple of years, I've had reoccurring dreams about my teeth falling out. Rereading this book, I found out that the girl in the story (during one of the horrifying scenes) has the same thing happen to her. It's been stuck in my head the whole time. So yea...the author did a really good job with visual imagery in "Dr. Franklin's Island".



Josie Rush said:

"The time it took to look up each meaning took me out of the poem." Agreed, Aja. It's always a bad sign when you don't know half of the words in the first line of a poem. Had the imagery been truly fantastic, though, I may have gotten a picture of what these things were supposed to look like. Though, as you said, the people who initially read this poem probably were more clued in.

I had those same dreams when I was in my 20s, and I did a little psychological experiment with a girl I dated briefly, and we concluded the dreams were about maturity. (Then she dumped me for a friend of mine who shortly thereafter went into a monastery, but that's another story.)

But seriously, Aja's point about frame of reference is significant. A former roommate of mine would write poetry that quoted copiously from popular songs. Because I didn't know the songs, I rarely understood his poetry, and I was completely helpless when it came to giving him suggestions -- or even just appreciating his work.

The more we read, the more we can recognize images in what we read (and the greater the store of images at our disposal when we need one for something we are writing).

I actually don't think the frame of reference mattered much for this poem. I agree that in many pieces of literature, it's important to understand that background story or the meanings of key words/situations, but I felt like the descriptions in this poem balanced out my confusion of the references. For example, in the first stanza, I didn't need to know how each place was significant historically or in the Bible. The words I did understand helped me come to the conclusion that Masefield is detailing the progression of deterioration in society. Words like the following brought me to this conclusion: sunny, ivory, peacocks, sweet white whine, stately, palm-green shores, diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, topazes, gold moidores, dirty, salt-caked smoke-stack, mad, coal, pig-lead, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays. I guess that's not an obvious observation to make, but I felt like the imagery from those words were more than enough for the poem to be considered above average in Masefield's use of imagery.

Aja Hannah said:

I feel like your observation "the deterioration of society" is more of a thesis. I'm sure this imagery was great when this poem was written, but for me I couldn't understand a whole third of the poem. All I got was there was a boat carrying things.

Dianna Griffin said:

Aja, it really does take the meaning out of something when you have to look up the references every other line. I understand that the focus of the poem may have been on a different group of people, but shouldn't it be just as significant to me. It really annoys me when a work of literature references something, but I have no clue what it is. It's not like I'm dumb, and I absolutely hate looking at the footnotes.

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