...decided (finally) to put out Forth of July in one volume, after I picked up Mary Douglas's book Thinking in Circles (about ring-structures in the Bible, Homer, Tristram Shandy, etc). Started looking again at the symmetries in my own poem. & seeing it (the poem) in a somewhat different light.

As I've written elsewhere, there's a great deal of ring-structure or mirror-symmetry in this poem, beginning with the "ABBA" rhyme of each quatrain, all the way up to the macro-structure. And there are a number of rings-within-rings. The technique was a lot like weaving : I would write parallel quatrains, or sections, or books on either side of a central pivot.

But Mary Douglas describes "classic" or ancient ring-structure as a means of (1) establishing firm meaning (by such parallels) and (2) creating a clear narrative structure (leading to a central turning-point and closing with a kind of resolution paired with the beginning).

In Forth of July, often enough, the narrator/protagonist is unaware of his real destination (Bluejay, his "guide", explicitly tells him this, repeatedly). The introductory poems of the prologue foreshadow the major concerns of the pivotal center - and then the poem veers off in a new direction, a deeper level. Yet "Bluejay" warns "Henry" of this from the beginning.

Furthermore, behind the narrator/protagonist stands a more shadowy - yet also pivotal - character, the meditative William Blackstone.

Not without reason the central chapter of the poem is titled "Ghost Dance". The poem represents ghoulish, garrulous Henry surrounded by ghosts (Bluejay, Blackstone, Juliet... & the mysterious "J").

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