- Series: Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets (Book 16)
- Paperback: 80 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 1980)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691013357
- ISBN-13: 978-0691013350
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.2 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets) Paperback – June 1, 1980
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Of particular interest for this analysis is the title poem to the book, “Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts.” Who, exactly, is speaking here? “What can I expect of you?” the speaker asks the tree. “So I am camouflaged, / so the handsome bones make me invisible.” Whoever this speaker is, she or it is incredibly cognizant of what it means to exist in nature. "To bloom is to be // taken completely" she says. How nature possesses the snapdragon when it blooms, how if the snapdragon is this speaker it might already know that knowing this is significant. Perhaps this doesn't seem any different than any other personification in a poem. But it is different. It is how the speaker stages the personification. Is she in dialogue with the snapdragon? Is she taking over the role of the snapdragon? This is the blur, the ruptured concept. And the gesture is further confused when the speaker compares randomness to a "lost handkerchief at my heart." To what degree will we realistically allow a snapdragon this kind of self-consciousness? If that randomness is how the speaker describes nature, how can anyone, human or snapdragon, "drop" randomness somewhere that you know "to look for [it]."
An important question, then: What is the concept? I think it involves self, or what the self would know by looking at all the things we should recognize have helped to make up our selves. Nature. Family. But, and this is what I find this book pushing at in a tentative way, how do we perceive the self when we recognize just how the subjective frame would be both necessary to see that the self has colored this view of self but also hindering the self to get any accurate view. This is present in poems of Part III like "Framing" and "For Mark Rothko."
Ultimately, however, the speaker presents herself as a subject, where she looks out at the natural world and sees it as a collection of devices available for metaphorical description. She is a subject of this world, and so thee metaphors feel innate to her, where it feels as though the speaker’s life has been ingrained into the world, and the only method she has for describing what is happening with her is to use natural events as a descriptor. I’m not sure whether I would call this anthropomorphic as I would say the speaker finds herself inseparable and inextricable from nature, as though in the poem, “Girl at the Piano,” the act of hearing a girl at the piano is of one body with the train passing in the distance, and the most natural way for the speaker to describe her situation is to use nature. As though the snow in “Self-Portrait” is as naturally related to the speaker as her skin in providing description.