What I find magical about this piece is the way it relies on the reader to create the speaker's perspective. I believe that the poet has executed this beautifully by using descriptive imagery while remaining vague, but emotional about the speaker's background.
It's a powerful and thought-provoking juxtaposition.
I have come again to the perfumed city.
Houses with tiered porches, some decorated with shells.
You know from the windows that the houses
are from a different time. I am not
to blame for what changes, though sometimes
I have trouble sleeping.
Between the carriage houses,
there are little gardens separated by gates.
Lately, I have been thinking about the gates.
The one ornamented with the brass lion, I remember
it was warm to the touch
even in what passes here for winter.
But last night, when I closed my eyes,
it was not the lion that I pictured first.
Source: Poetry (November 2012).
The experience the speaker had before the poem is unspecific, but not unimportant.
It represents the kind of mystery we encounter not only in strangers, but also in loved ones who have returned home after long journeys.
Why is this particular setting special enough for the speaker to have remarked on it to begin with? And hey, where are they anyway? Where is this place? Have they been there before? How long have they been gone? Where has the speaker been before this? Are they planning on staying or moving on? Do you find the setting frightening, or hopeful? Is the speaker healing or self-destructing?
Do you think that the fact the speaker dreams about the gates has anything to do with their past and their future? What do those gates mean? Do they confine or protect? Do you think they see themselves as being inside or outside of the gates? Do you think this a more emotional or physical location?
Do you think you see the reader's location (whether physical or emotional) as differently as they see it? Are you, or any of us, for that matter, really all that different from the speaker at all? Who is the speaker after all? After all the answers to these questions - could it really be possible that maybe the speaker is you?\
|Poet Richie Hofmann|
|-explore more poetry by Hoffmann|