Monday, February 2, 2009

Georgia Dusk: A Plethora of Imagery

This is a very rich poem in terms of its imagery. To begin with, a very simple conception, that of the sunset, is complicated in the first stanza as almost a contest between the sky and the sun. The sky "lazily disdaining to pursue" suggests the slow shift between daylight and the night, an almost reluctant passage of time, which compels the reader to appreciate the passage of time, a resource that, once deplenished, can never be regained. The "indolent" sun, which is simply too lazy to host that "lengthened tournament of flashing gold" allows the "barbecue" of night to consume the remaining twilight. How powerful! It forces the reader to consider time, which is taken for granted, as a precious resource, and it reveals so much beauty in the sunset, an event we see hundreds of times throughout our lives. This first stanza could function as poem in its own right.
I'd also like to look at form. It is written in iambic pentameter, and has a rhyme scheme of a, b, b, a for each stanza. The stanzas are each composed of four lines, and there are seven stanzas total, giving the poem a very logical and methodical feel.
In the second stanza, we see a "feast of moon and men and barking hounds/An orgy for som genius of the South." This is a very unorthodox way to represent a feast, unless such feasts in Georgia truly involved orgies. As to the "genius of the South," I venture no guess. I am truly stumped. What is interesting is that the people present have "cane-lipped scented mouth," an allusion to the title of the entire work, and that the feast-goers are "Surprised in making folk songs from soul sounds." Is this perhaps foreshadowing of a way of life changing?
The third stanza almost confirms this suspicion. The sawmill imagery suggests a great deal of industrialization, very dissimilar to the rustic image of traditional Georgia. And then the fourth stanza brings this point home with further sawmill imagery. Indeed, "only chips and stumps are left to show/The solid proof of former domicile."
However, the fifth stanza has a tone of rejection and rebellion, as men "with vestiges of pomp/Race memories of king and caravan" perhaps to stem the tide of newer ways of life. The sixth stanza continues this imagery, carrying a very Romantic air, with much imagery of nature, and a call for help, after a fashion: "...the chorus of the cane/Is caroling a vesper to the stars."
The last stanza completely befuddles me. Is it a request from the narrator to join in on the tradionalist movement? As for "Bring dreams of Christ to dusky cane-lipped throngs," I will say only that there is a heavily religious overtone; on that matter, I can say no more.

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