Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-interpretation February 6, 2018

The Lord of All Knowledge,

Gatekeeper of Truth,

says the poem means this.

Generations of readers bow

before this wisdom,

even though they don’t see it,

can’t believe it,

they just accept it.

When the poet reads

the critic’s piece,

she laughs and laughs

at the irony of such arrogant

assumptions!

Oh, student!

Good reader!

There are no errors

of interpretation in poetry!

Your experiences show you a meaning,

and if you can find lines to support,

your responses are just as valid as any critic’s.

(So the famous poet said to me,

and he should know).

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poem-code August 2, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:57 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I read your words

poetic rendering

of a message you

send to the world.

I read your words

seeking for your

meaning. Seeking

without success.

I read your words

and they are only

bar bar babble.

Your words shout

they moan and cry.

I read your words

but I can’t find

your message.

I read your words,

but

I am not your

cryptographer.

 

poem-inaccurate January 31, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:37 am
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You hear a story

and cling to this narrative,

gripping each element as deep truth

fundamental reality

excuse for your frailty

But it’s fiction

and no matter how loudly you shout

your warped interpretation

insist that white is black,

it won’t transform into fact.

It will only dance to a rhythm of jack boots,

and the sounds of breaking glass.

 

poem- what now? September 10, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:21 pm
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“and so,” you said, “that’s it.”

You turned off the light

and closed the door.

I blinked in darkness

waiting

because

“it”

was not really

“that.”

 

Hester Prynne: the star of love February 17, 2011

I’ve mentioned before that authors choose their characters’ names very carefully, researching them like they would for their own children.  These offspring of the imagination need a name that edifies the reader about their traits, either in agreement or contradiction.

Last weekend I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  I haven’t read it since college, and although I remember the plot well enough that I was shocked and dismayed by the movie version a few years ago, I had lost some of the finer points.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading until moments before book club, and I didn’t get a chance to do some of the research I’d like to have done on the characters’ names.  So I’ll do some of that exploration here.

The protagonist of the story, of course, is Hester Prynne.  Her name is delightfully symbolic, though I can’t say I’ve ever seen reference to this in any on-line study guides I’ve skimmed through.

Her first name, Hester, is Greek.  Like “Aster” it means Star.  This meaning opens up several possible interpretations.  A star is a beacon that guides the lost.   A star illuminates the darkness.  A star is unreachable.  A star cannot be hidden for long, even if it is covered by cloud, it is still above all, shining.  A star is forever burning.  A star can implode and suck others into the void.  A star inspires stories, music, and wishes.  Now consider the character of Hester and all the ways those things apply to her…

Her last name, Prynne, is not an accident either.  Although it doesn’t mean anything to us, to Hawthorne it would have been a classical Puritan choice, like naming a Mennonite character Friesen or Reimer.  William Prynne was a very famous Puritan leader and pamphleteer.  He lived in England and wrote denouncing the Church of England and its Archbishop Laud.  Over objections to some of his writings, he found himself in court a time or two, and managed to get his ears cut off as a disciplinary measure.  He was rather successful in his campaigns, however, because Archbishop Laud was executed.  Like William Prynne, Hester Prynne was punished publically, but challenged authority by bearing unapologetically the mark of shame, and thereby turning it into a badge of honour.

I ponder whether Hawthorne could have known the Sanskrit word prem, which is a homophone of Prynne?   Prem means love.  Seems pretty coincidental, doesn’t it? Hester Prynne was a star of love, blazing above her community, having flaunted the moral rules of the community by embellishing the token of sin and becoming a beacon and a talisman.

(c) Shawn Bird.  Students, to avoid plagiarism, cite this article as follows:

Bird, Shawn.  “Hester Prynne: the star of love”  https://shawnbird.com/2011/02/17/hester-prynne/  Collected (insert the date you copied the information)

There are four posts on this blog about characters from The Scarlet Letter.  Click to see all four.

 

 
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