Read-Along-with Rest Note, poem #7 :

7.1 : "May day, memorious..." - echoes opening of poem #1. Date of composition is Memorial Day. "the old soldier" - we're back with Teddy Roosevelt, making his Bull Moose comeback attempt with a big speech in Madison Square Garden. He had just survived an assassination attempt in the midwest a day or so before, and was walking around with the bullet still in his chest.

7.2 : "rich men..." etc. Some vocabulary from Richard II, another politician on his way out.

7.3 : "Stern was the sterling word..." etc. - public rhetoric, political rhetoric, takes on a tincture from the Iron Age (the world of power and violence) which it addresses.

7.4 : "oak tree... bantering manteau" - out hidden in the country, beyond sequestered rural wealth, a tree furls (hides) in a cloak of whispering leaves. Image of reserved, persistent presence of poetic speech, powerful in its sphere, yet distinguished from political rhetoric per se. May 29, the date of composition, is Oak Tree Day in England, or Restoration Day : a celebration of the young Charles II's successful escape (hiding in an oak tree) from the roundheads. May 29 was Charles 2nd's birthday - also this poet's birthday. Contrast of Charles II (strong successful monarch) with Richard II (weak falling monarch).

7.5 : poetry is both "sheltering" and a kind of riposte ("ripe post") to political conflict. "The octave..." etc. - the poetic word discovers the sameness or harmony or equality hidden beneath class differences ("squire" and "hand"). "rest note" - in musical terms, a rest note is a silent note : a pause between sounds.

7.6 : "young seal" - cf. previous comments on the "seal" motif.

7.7 : "speechless limbs" - the silent-speaking tree, the "seal" which speaks only silently or symbolically (as animal or as image). Yet the "retort" is a gesture, part of a real test, game, agon. The contest originates in the "racing heart" itself.

No comments: