Monday, November 16, 2009


Carol commented on my last post that she hadn't read the poem as being about the death of a partner, but more the absence of a partner through separation, divorce, or the slow decline of dementia. She pulled me up in my tracks a bit because I realised I'd made a huge assumption about the poem and I was compelled to re-read it and test out my idea.

We read texts with our own life experiences to draw upon, I guess. I'm no critical theorist (very ignorant about the whole process of reading) and cannot contextualise my interpretation of the poem except in terms of how it relates to my experiences. So for me it definitely is about death, but I wonder how the rest of you interpret the poem? Carol reminded me that it can be read in many different ways - thank you!


dinahmow said...

Hmmm...different strokes for different folks. I, too, am interpreting this poem as being about someone "being absent" though not necessarily deceased.
Like you, Sara, personal elements colour my thoughts, from someone close being posted to a war zone, to relocation from home.
Our disparate responses make this interesting!

Amanda said...

I think this poem shows us how with anything in life, we come with our own set of experiences and history which colour how we view what happens. To me, this poem is deliberately written in an open way, and the reason for the absence is omitted, specifically so the reader can bring their own history to their interpretation. In this way, the poem is able to say something to a broader range of people, than if the specifics had been spelt out. Perhaps it would say something different to each of us at different times in our lives. I love it!
For my book, I'm choosing a death as the major "absence" but also putting this in the context of more general absences that are happening around us all the time.

Carol said...

My interpretation of the poem was coloured by my mother having to learn to live with my (up until then) vibrant father as he slowly disappeared from life through dementia.
Now with the passing of my mother I can see the poem relating to my daughter, who gave her beloved Grandma 24 hour care for the past 8 months. My daughter is constantly noting my mother's absence - items no longer needed to purchase, the ability to sleep without listening, the loss of the companionship...
My daughter has got her life back and she will rejoice in that in time but right now she too is learning absences.
I might say, I am incredibly proud of this young woman who did what I could not do when it was needed.

Ampersand Duck said...

I can see all those views, but sometimes when I read it I don't see the absence as huge or dramatic. I can read this poem from the view of a loving couple that rarely spend time apart but this is an occasion when they are apart, not necessarily for very long. When you are used to constant companionship, loneliness is easy to achieve! You're right, though, it is a very open poem, and deliberately constructed as such, I think, which is very Dobson.