Poetry and Christle Essay

Submitted By ljsloane
Words: 1208
Pages: 5

An Indeterminate Understanding

People fail to understand poetry and the deeper meanings behind it. People want things handed to them, restated and made easier to understand. Yet that’s not what poetry implicates. Poetry is about the deeper meaning behind what you read, the indeterminate. In Paul Hoover’s introduction to “Postmodern American Poetry” he discusses the significance of indeterminacy, stating, “Indeterminacy means the conditionality of truth, as well as a compositional tendency away from finality and closure; the text is in a state of unrest or undecidability” (Hoover xxxi). Indeterminacy develops a poem through uncertainty, forcing the reader to analyze critically rather then superficially. A poem that exemplifies uncertainty can be interpreted to a greater extent then a poem that is simplistic. A simplistic poem that can be interpreted literally is not indeterminate. The uncertainty in a poem causes the reader to look deeper and question what he/she reads. In relation to Hoover’s statement, the poem, “More Swans and More Women” by Heather Christle, exemplifies indeterminacy, leaving the reader questioning through ambiguity and symbolization which force the reader to look past the poem’s literal meaning and discover its deeper meanings. Ambiguity is a technique that entails unclarity. In the poem, “More Swans and More Women,” Christle uses ambiguity to make the reader look deeper into the poem. These types of poems can’t just be read once and grasped. Ambiguity stems from the point of view in the poem. It is unclear who’s point of view it is coming from. Christle writes, “If you see a woman moving in the water/ you must run away very fast to a mountain” (Christle). These stanzas provoke thought and cause us to question the context of the poem. Stereotypically, men usually run away from women, but after reading more, its evident the speaker is a woman. The speaker runs away to the mountains where there are no “swan” and when she returns she says, “people could not see I was a woman” (Christle). While one can conclude she lost her identity running from her fear, the poem is still unclear and confusing. The poem forces you to constantly re-read and question the meaning of everything. As a whole, one begins to comprehend bits and piece of the poem, like a puzzle. In poetry the use of ambiguity is used to force the reader to keep digging for a deeper and more defined meaning. The last two stanzas are unclear and leave the reader hanging. “the water is no longer working. It won’t/ make me beautiful just wet and the same” (Christle). Leaving the reader hanging causes the reader to think harder, go back and look at the poem as a whole.
In order to understand the poem through its ambiguity, we must see the poem past its literal meaning and ambiguity Christle uses symbolization to uncover the deeper meaning of the poem. She tries to make the point that beauty can destroy a person. However, when looking at the poem in part, one may perceive a literal meaning. Christle writes, “A swan makes a bad pet It is a murderer/ but very beautiful just like a women” (Christle). At first glance it seems as if the character had a bad experience with a swan. Perhaps it murdered someone, but she still admires its beauty. This does not make sense, but after pondering and reading the entire poem, to a degree it becomes clearer. We have to look deeper into the poem. The ambiguity can be understood through the use of symbolism. Symbolization plays a huge role in uncovering the meaning of this poem. The swan is indirectly symbolizing the beauty in women, and the woman moving in the water is a metonymy. It have to movement symbolizes the youth of the woman, which coincides with beauty in woman. After running away she says, “this made it lonely and natural so/ I was very safe but I forgot/ how to talk and when I came home/ people could not see I was a woman” (Christle). After viewing the poem as a whole and thru constant analyzation,…