Poetry for Students Volume 26 by David Kelly, Ira Mark Milne

By David Kelly, Ira Mark Milne

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Ashes in the grate. Whatever it is that keeps us from heaven, sloth, wrath, greed, fear, could we only reinvent it on earth as song. ’’ The withholding precludes strong closure, while the assertion secures the sense of an ending; even as a question conveys ignorance, it can also express discovery—discovery of what precisely to ask. The end of ‘‘Another Night in the Ruins,’’ for example, discloses even as it inquires: the lesson is P o e t r y f o r S t u d e n t s , V o l u m e 2 6 A n o t h e r defined and affirmed, even if it remains unlearned.

Throughout the poem, the narrator is probing his spiritual side for answers to his fears and uncertainties about the creative process. In sections 1 and 2, the narrator observes the natural world with awe. ’’ The thunderhead in section 2 is a further sign of the narrator’s spiritual link with the natural world. It is not until section 3, however, that the link between the narrator’s creativity and his spirituality is revealed. Here the narrator remembers his brother’s advice about coping with depression.

This strange image is another spiritual reference masked by the mundane. The mundane is the red fleshy cockscomb on a rooster’s head, which could figuratively be described as flames. Spiritually these lines are a reference to the fire in the head, a shamanistic description of one’s experience with the divine. Section 7: Lines 45–53 The last section is the culmination of the previous six, drawing them together into a greater meaning than each had individually. In line 45, the narrator wonders ‘‘how many nights must it take’’—not days, months, or years.

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