“The Pitcher” – Literal Analysis

Blog: What do you take to be the literal meaning of the poem?

I found “The Pitcher” by Robert Francis a very confusing and unordinary poem. I was able to recognize that it is about baseball because of the title, and a few words, such as “throw” and “batter”. My guess of the dramatic situation is that a member of the crowd is speaking to others about this pitcher way of playing. So, literally this poem is about a pitcher and his unusual way of pitching and deceiving the batter. The speaker uses the word, “art” on the first line and in this case, pitching is an art, but the poem can relate to any art. He writes, “How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,” denoting that he wants to trick the batter and literally, throw the ball where his bat is not. The words, “passion” and “technique” demonstrate how fervent the pitcher is about his “technique” of misleading the crowd. The speaker writes, “He throws to be a moment misunderstood,” meaning for the short period of time the batter has to react to the pitch; the pitcher wants to really throw off the batter, and that the batter can see what the pitcher’s intentions were afterward. The last two lines go with lines five and six in a sense that they both suggest that the pitcher tries to trick the batter until after the pitch, “making the batter understand too late.” The poem mainly talks about a pitcher and his ways of playing baseball to trick his opponents.

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“Introduction to Poetry” – Analysis

In “Introduction to Poetry”, the writer, Billy Collins sends a message that readers should be patient and open minded when reading poems in order to see the meaning, yet not over-analyze. The dramatic situation is Billy Collins is speaking (I think) to all readers about the way one should read poetry. The poem teaches the reader how to read and dive into a poem, using many literary devices and tone to do so. Collins’s use of literary devices really helped the poem take the shape it took in my mind. On the third line, Collins uses a simile and says, “like a color slide,” connoting that the reader must see through the color slide (the poem) in order to clearly see the picture; light goes through the color slide, so one must focus in on it to see the image. This squinting is what the speaker wants the reader to do – he wants the reader to get inside the poem and see what it means. He says, “I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s room and feel the walls for a light switch.” When the mouse looks for a light switch, one can imagine that it is dark inside the “poem’s room” and that there is a sense of being lost, like in a labyrinth. On the next two lines, the poem is a lake, and Collins wants the reader to have fun and feel free: “I want them to waterski across the surface of the poem waving at the author’s name on the shore.” This use of imagery really paints a picture in my mind of someone diving into a poem (the lake) and looking at the author’s name on the shore. After this, there is a shift in tone, now almost a taunting mood. Collins relates the poem to a prisoner captured by the readers: “But all they [the readers] want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it.” That confession is the meaning of the poem and the speaker wants to show that the readers want to “beat” the meaning out of the poem, thus tying “the poem to a chair” and torturing a “confession out of it.” The word “torture” brings up the word, force, and Collins want the reader to go deep into the quote, but not go so deep that what remains on the surface is forgotten. He expresses that poems should not have their meaning forcefully tugged from them, but freely and calmly find it, and still be attached to the surface. Imagine a bungee cord on the surface of the water and someone (with the rope stretched) diving from high above, and reach the bottom of the water, look around and collect the meaning, and jump right back to the surface. This is, in my opinion, an image version of what Collins wants the reader to take away from this poem.

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

First Semester Writing Reflection

Blog: Try to identify patterns: issues I used to comment on and on which you’ve since improved, and issues on which I continue to comment. After reading through my comments, reflect in your blog first about your successes responding to writing feedback this year: improvements you’ve achieved in response to my feedback. Then, set some forward-looking writing goals for issues on which my feedback suggests you should continue to focus.

After looking through Mr. Parker’s comments on my writing pieces from the first semester, I realized that there were a few patterns that came up. One of them is the use of passive voice. Before this year, I had no clue what the passive voice was, and when I encountered the comment that corrected it in one of my essays, I went to the link on the comment and learned what it is. Now, whenever I write I look out for the passive voice and correct it whenever I can. This is one goal I can work on this semester. The next thing is introducing quotes with a small analysis. Before, I just wrote the quote with not much information before it, but I noticed in many of my essays, Mr. Parker said I should introduce the quote with some analysis. So, now when I write, I am aware of this and put a good amount of analysis before quotes. Another pattern I recognized is condensing body paragraphs into about 2/3 of a page (double-spaced) because I learned from Mr. Parker (and myself after reading my essay) that it is quite a burden on the reader to glance at such a long paragraph for a while; it gets pretty boring and tedious. To fix this problem, I delete useless facts and information and try to get to the main point with good analysis while staying within 2/3 of a page per paragraph. To go with this, I might as well add that I should try to write as clearly and to the point as possible. I noticed this in a few of my essay drafts; that some comments would often ask to clarify or rephrase the sentence. I think this is a good goal for me to focus on this semester. The last main pattern I realized is staying organized between each paragraph. In other words, I need to stay focused on one topic per paragraph. To do this, I plan on organizing my outline better so that each paragraph clearly says what my main idea is an what evidence I will use to support it. Moreover, I feel like I have succeeded in writing analyses for quotes; if I reflect back on my writing last year, I see a tremendous difference in my ability to analyze quotes. I think each pattern I mentioned is a good goal for me to work on this semester.

AQWF: Paul’s Experience w/ the Russian Soldiers

Blog: How does Paul’s experience with the Russian soldiers demonstrate an internal conflict? Does it demonstrate another kind of conflict as well?

Paul encounters an internal conflict with the Russian soldiers. He feels like there is no difference between them and Paul. He comments, “How little we understand on another” (Remarque 192). This shows how they do not understand each others’ situation and that each man are equal. At the bottom of page 193, there is a whole paragraph commenting on how Paul looks at the individual and how they are no different or less human than anyone else. This demonstrates an internal conflict in Paul because he does not know which way to look at them; the Germans are commanded to think of the Russians as enemies and vice versa with the Russians. He says, “A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends” (Remarque 193,194). Their relationship can be so easily changed and he feels like there is not reason to be in a conflict. They can become friends as quickly as they became enemies.  All he has been told is that the Russians are bad and this makes Paul feel confused. There is also a societal conflict with Paul and his higher officials in this quote. It is only the high officials who make decisions who have problems with the Russians; Paul and his comrades have no problem with the Russians. On page 194, Paul says, “They comfort me… are rooms full of peace” (Remarque 194). This connotes that, despite Paul’s higher commands, he finds comfort in the Russian men.

AQWF: Paul’s Regret of Going on Leave

At the end of Ch. 7, Paul writes, “I ought never to have come on leave” (185). Why not? What conflicts does Paul’s trip home reveal?

Paul’s leave brings great pain to both Paul and his family. He constantly feels like he does not belong at home because he has been at war and has witnessed horrendous things and thought about life in a way he never thought he would. Everything about his home is now strange to him. For probably the first time in his life, he realizes how much he cares for his family, and coming back home and knowing he must return to the front just intensifies the pain. The war’s effect on Paul has changed him enormously, and now it is all he is accustomed to. When he comes home he feels like a stranger. He writes, “I lean against the wall and grip my helmet and rifle. I hold them as tight as I can, but I cannot take another step… my sister’s call has made me powerless” (Remarque 157). The new, different type of comfort Paul seeks on the front changes his view of what comfort is. Here, he grips his helmet and rifle, the closest thing to the front. His sister’s call made him “powerless” showing how his old life, which really was not that long ago, is trying to enter his body, however Paul resists its force. His sister’s call is a symbol for the return home. A piece of him wants to accept it, but the other is closed and know he can never go back. He almost feels like he never should have left the front; it brought too much pain. One way he tries to link with his past self is through his books. He adored his books as a child and he tries to connect to them: “Speak to me – take me up – take me, Life of my Youth – you who are care-free, beautiful – receive me again” (Remarque 172). The words “Life of my Youth” show how he is aware of his lost youth and to him it was a whole separate life. When he figures out he cannot go back, he writes, “A terrible feeling of foreignness suddenly rises up in me” (Remarque 172). I can only imaging what pain he must feel, a visit to your not-so-far-in-the-past childhood and feeling like a complete stranger. He now realizes that there is no going back; only to worry about the future. Paul is constantly reminded of war on his leave, from his encounter with the major, to the numerous questions that put Paul in such an uncomfortable position. His father constantly questions him about his experiences on the front, bringing up so many uncomfortable memories. And, when his mom asks him questions (rarely; she realizes how difficult it is for him) he has to lie in order for her not make her feel even worse on top of her illness.