Wish You Were Here Essay, Research Paper
A poet is that which the Greeks called a maker: his Art
an art of imitation, of faining: expressing the life of man in
fit measure, numbers, and harmony, according to Aristotle?
A poet?writes things like the Truth.1.The metaphorical marvel that is Craig Raine?s ?A Martian Sends a Postcard Home? specific purpose is to compel us through the virginal eyes of another, to look at everyday, inanimate objects in a new perspective. Raine attempts this by disguising the dramatic monologue as a postcard. In this simile he can entrust the recipient to decipher the figurative fragments of verse. The poem is: ??addressed from one individual [a martian] to another in a way that [implies it] would be read in private by a single reader?.2. Thus, the poet?s own personal and obscure view can be expressed. Raine chooses an alien as an ?intelligent eye? to ponder and ridicule human qualities of impatience, frailty, proneness to haste, prosperity and weakness. Displaying his own impatience, frustration and despair at these unenviable attributes we possess. The sequences of events are displayed in a chronological order, developing coherently the alien?s view of his one-day visitors? pass to Earth. The journey begins: ?Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings?. Caxtons are the original printers, ?mechanical? denoting; of or using machinery; printing press. ?Wings? connote pages. Raine is illustrating a book. By using the word ?mechanical? Raine is defining books; as void or lacking of thought or emotion. In contradictory terms Raine completes the first stanza: ??and some are treasured for their markings?, insinuating their opposing wealth and riches. The first line ends with a one-syllable (masculine) ?wings?, and concludes on the second line with a two-syllable (feminine), rhyming; ?markings?. The non-metrical form continues its? opposing theme in the second stanza?
they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain. Pain is linked to joy in this oxymoron to reflect awe and bewilderment. The thought or emotion that was lacking earlier in the books is now depicted in us as we read them. Laughing and crying are opposing contrasts, causing opposing feelings as we read. The words ?shriek? and ?melting? are qualifiers, ?eyes melting?, ?body shrieking? impose more meaning than ?crying? and ?laughing??
the content of each individual line dictates its length,
its own number of measures?This kind of poetry often
uses some type of linguistic pattern, such as repetition,
to replace the regular metrical pattern we usually expect to find.3.So far the poem is not displaying any definite metre. The emerging pattern appears to be one of opposition. The first epic simile is concluded with: ?I have never seen one fly, but / sometimes they perch on the hand.? Raines tenderness for the written word is apparent in his descriptive illustration of books, implying the pages are ?wings?, connotes them as delicate, and though ?they cannot? fly they allow us to soar. Raine has used the alien to defamiliarise the text, make the ordinary, not ordinary, in this interpretation we can experience a new and startling appreciation of books through the aptness of his words. Raine is encouraging us to appreciate the delicate wealth and richness, joy and sadness that literature can bring us and to not be void or lacking of emotion in our haste.
Supporting the evidence unraveled in the first extended metaphor, Raine progresses onto a natural phenomenon; the British weather: ?Mist is when the sky is tired of flight / and rests its soft machine on ground.? The diction continues with further binary opposition??mechanical objects transform into non-mechanical subjects?.4. ?Rests?; relaxation, tranquility; ?soft?; gentle; ?machine?; a structure of fixed and moving parts, and ?ground?; solid surface of the earth. The emerging pattern is one of antithesis. In the first instance the parallelism suggested by the repeated ?rests? and ?soft? is turned antithetical in the contrast of ?machine? and ?ground?. The opposition is further integrated with Raines use of an ?alien? opposing us ?humans? and even the metaphorical content, which in itself is a complete opposition; replacing one thing for another. The setting contrasts the aliens experience before and after its? discovery. We can assume that this is the first book the alien has encountered, and that he has never experienced tears or laughter before. Therefore enhancing an innocence or naivety at renewing our acquaintance with the things we take for granted.
?At times, a poet may go to great lengths to disguise the metrical scheme, using caesuras and other extra-metrical effects to do this:?5.
Model T is a room with the lock inside ?
a key is turned to free the world
for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.Raine has split these two stanzas with a caesura so that the pattern is still in keeping of an enjambment of three double stanzas per extended metaphor, to keep the balance. The seventh stanza is set in a series of four strong parallel functions (key, turned, free, world) that point to an effective, persuasive device, allowing for both repetition and enlargement of the theme. The use of double stanzas throughout engages the reader to decipher each paradox. Time is personified as it ?[ticks] with impatience.? Raines own frustration being felt at having to adhere. The analogy; ?time is tied to the wrist? denotes a watch and connotes that we cannot escape it.
Raine wrote the poem in 1979, already in his thirties and observing the incline of modern technology and materialism. When in 1979 the telephone was a reasonably new commodity, we can already sense Raine?s intolerance of it:
In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores, when you pick it up.
If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep
with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.The secondary imagery of the telephone is depicted by a parallel structure of spiritual connotation; this is recognizable in the signifiers ?haunted? and ?ghost?. The first syntax within this extended metaphor is ?haunted apparatus sleeps?; the adjective denotes; visited by ghosts, obsessed; the noun ? equipment used for a specific task, complex machine. To depict the mechanical machine as ?snoring? brings it to life in this vivid imagery, although life in a spiritual form. Further humanization is read from the telephone ?crying?, which then exacts a human response by? ?[soothing] it to sleep with sounds?, depicting our nurturing nature to calm and comfort. The contradictory irony arises when we provoke the telephone into activity, questioning our integrity.
Our ?frailty? is established in the figurative?
Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room
with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises
alone. No one is exempt
and everyone?s pain has a different smell.Our sanitary movements perplex and bewilder the observer. Raine uses ?punishment room? as a metonym for the bathroom, describing it in this way alters how we perceive what goes on within, symbolically turning the bathroom into somewhere private and painful. In this context our sanitation is seen as solitary confinement.
The regular pattern of enjambment, which has been adhered to throughout the poem, shifts slightly in the concluding quatrain. The poem is structured to draw on specific representations to re-create allegorical images through our senses, fluctuating from visual (birds), to tactile (books), to aural (laughing and crying). The poem allures us into reflecting and speculating on the corrupt and limitation of nature, we appear to have encumbered. The alien has shown us, through seeing these impediments for the first time, an appreciation of something long known beautiful, but now clearly seen for the first time.
?At night when all the colours die, / [we] hide in pairs / and read about [ourselves] – / in colour, with [our] eyelids shut.?
We envisage viridescent couch, and cerulean ceilings, as we repose against metamorphic silk and ascend to greater depths, with motionless rhythm.