Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to Disappear From a Poem

One of the possible (and exciting) ways to exit  a poem is to faint – poetically speaking.

Since I haven’t come across too many such ‘disappearances’ that keep me up late at night, I tend to remember the following few.

They actually did cause me to lose sleep - because of their beauty.

In the third and fifth Cantos of the Inferno, Dante uses the fainting spell as a means to end a poem and as a transition to the next Canto. In both instances, fainting occurs at the very end of the respective poems.

The fainting spell in the third Canto is somewhat surprising, apparently triggered by an external element: out of the melancholic land a wind comes forth from which a carmine light springs out, which causes the poet’s alter ego to faint and fall as a man overpowered by a deep slumber.


Here is the quote from the Oxford World' Classics translation:

"From which there came a flash of carmine light
That left me utterly insensible;


And I fell, as man who falls asleep."

The fainting in the fifth Canto appears to be caused by a wave of empathy, which moves the author/narrator into a sudden fall, almost an apparent death. 

Here is the quote from the same book: 

"The other shed such tears, that, out of pity,
I felt myself diminish, as if I were dying, 

And fell down, as a dead body falls."

Another fainting spell that I sometimes think of is the one induced against a backdrop of redolent teabags.

It occurs towards the ending of a baroque poem “The Secret Garden” by Rita Dove.

“I was sick, fainting in the smell of teabags”.

1 comment:

Ben Gage said...

nice post, feinting,that's a good image....

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