Immortality, Lisel Mueller
From Poetry 180: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/173.html
I think this poem is quite an interesting one. I basically think that the theme that the poet is trying to get across, is about things persisting, even though they are stopped, interrupted, and paused, once it all starts again, things continue.
The surface meaning of this poem is about perhaps an adult, looking back at this tale in a book that she had when she was a child, and her remembering the pictures, frozen in time for a century. She looks at the boy, and she looks at the fly. However, what I think this really means, is that although someone has interrupted this scene, just like the boy being slapped by the cook, just because time is stopped for a while, they can’t avoid the issue going on. Emotions such as fear, joy, anger, or curiosity is ot something that you can slip past.
I find it interesting that the child is concentrating on abstract things, things which have no connection to the plot of the fairy tale. Just like the fly will continue being a fly when time starts again, the fly is still a fly, perhaps 50 years later when this story is read again. That kind of shows how books are timeles, and they “persist”, which is what the poet keeps on repeating in the poem.
I really like the structure of this poem, which is organized into two stanzas. I find this really smart because the first stanza talks about the story itself, the scene suspended in time. The poem then moves on to outside the story itself, when the child is reading the poem. I like the shift in the poem, first what the poem talks about, then someone who observes this, and has an opinion and and a different perspective on it. I think the poet chose the reader to be a child, not just because it is a fairy tale, but children see things in a different way to adults and teens. Children notice things, (like the fly), which others don’t find necessary. I think that if the reader were to be an adult, then the feeling of the poem would change.
So, when the poet uses says that the child was too young to notice how “fear persists, and how the anger that causes fear persists”, i saw the reason to why the child was only concentrating on the fly. The fly was a simple way to look at how fear persists, and feelings persists. The fly will stay the same, and it will “persist”. Basically, I think the fly was added in for the readers of this poem to understand this in a different and easier way, and I think it is a very efficient way.