Explications


Not a final draft.

Edward Lacie (edwa318@webtv.net)




It's hard not to notice the fascination poet Greg Baysans has with sonnets. Just off the top of my head I can list "Morning Pathetic," "Louder Than Words," there's got to be many more! "Prozac" is an unrhymed sort of Italian sonnet, Baysans's preferred form of the two (Shakespearian and Italian).

Back to rhymed poetry, there is also the strange "Written Supposedly Sober" to consider. This is a rhyme scheme intended not to be noticed. The presence of rhyme is defeating of the usual purpose of rhyme: a sort of "sound familiarity" meant to help with the flow of the verse. In "Sober", akin to a sort of drunkenness, the rhyme fights against the flow of the poem, rather than with it.

By using the sonnet form for "Louder Than Words," Baysans seems to echo a sonnet of Auden's. Another sonnet, published in the JWR, written by Baysans, concerns Auden, "Biography."

The poem presents a quick history of civilization in "flash card" images. Auden's early fascination with prehistoric times is contained in "Auden's bronze Age nipple days," a Freudian pack of language typical of the rest of the poem.

From the rise of Greek civilization through "The Wasteland age," the poem arrives at Auden and his writing, the subject of the sestet, the second "half" of this Italian sonnet (here disguised as a Shakespearian one), the sort of "answer," at times, or contrast to the proposition of the octave before it.

Auden's death is summed up in the dizzying final couplet, an unusual choice of rhyme schemes for the sestet (although it is also used in Baysans's early work, "Morning Pathetic"): "Become what Star Child circle dance what fleet/ Of ship take Auden where he is complete." The sci-fi reference to "2001" and the image of death making one "complete" seem almost religious, which Auden certainly claimed to be.

Knowing Auden had terrible problems with his feet, it is especially wonderful to know that he achieves "dance." The use of Auden's name only as the first word and again in the last line reinforces the "complete" concept. While this is obviously a "biography" of Auden, it is also generic enough to apply to anyone. Thus "Biography" becomes "Autobiography" by extension.

-Edward Lacie, 2/17/02