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Parsing Poetry 
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Post Parsing Poetry
Just now I came across a poem of Mark Doty that is new to me. I've had the good fortune to have heard him read a few times at the Dodge Poetry Fest. He so thoroughly won me as a fan that now when I see his work I always attend. I am puzzled by the end of this new Doty poem. I am hoping you, you reading this post, will help me puzzle it out. My trouble is with the overarching meaning of the poem - the title/last 2 sentences. Here is the poem. Do tell, what do you think? I am stuck of figuring out what meaning "spent" has - my thoughts: tired, all energy used up, the cost - as in the cost of getting a better life the next go-round.

Spent
Mark Doty - 1953-

Late August morning I go out to cut
spent and faded hydrangeas—washed
greens, russets, troubled little auras

of sky as if these were the very silks
of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin
then half-restored, after all this time…

When I come back with my handful
I realize I’ve accidentally locked the door,
and can’t get back into the house.

The dining room window’s easiest;
crawl through beauty bush and spirea,
push aside some errant maples, take down

the wood-framed screen, hoist myself up.
But how, exactly, to clamber across the sill
and the radiator down to the tile?

I try bending one leg in, but I don’t fold
readily; I push myself up so that my waist
rests against the sill, and lean forward,

place my hands on the floor and begin to slide
down into the room, which makes me think
this was what it was like to be born:

awkward, too big for the passageway…
Negotiate, submit?
When I give myself
to gravity there I am, inside, no harm,

the dazzling splotchy flowerheads
scattered around me on the floor.
Will leaving the world be the same

—uncertainty as to how to proceed,
some discomfort, and suddenly you’re
—where? I am so involved with this idea

I forget to unlock the door,
so when I go to fetch the mail, I’m locked out
again. Am I at home in this house,

would I prefer to be out here,
where I could be almost anyone?
This time it’s simpler: the window-frame,

the radiator, my descent. Born twice
in one day!
In their silvered jug,
these bruise-blessed flowers:

how hard I had to work to bring them
into this room. When I say spent,
I don’t mean they have no further coin.

If there are lives to come, I think
they might be a littler easier than this one.



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DWill
Sun Sep 01, 2019 6:09 pm
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Post Re: Parsing Poetry
Not too many poems are laugh-out-loud funny and profound at once. How brilliant this is. I connected the spent hydrangea blooms on the floor with the speaker's own spent-ness, having to heave himself through the window the second time, but finding a certain ease from the practice in spite of his being too old for this sort of thing. Optimism, hope. What seems well past prime, wasted, has "further coin" nonetheless.

This poem also explains why I don't lock my door.



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Saffron
Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:02 am
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Post Re: Parsing Poetry
Sorry--a dupe.



Last edited by DWill on Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:03 am
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Post Re: Parsing Poetry
DWill wrote:
Not too many poems are laugh-out-loud funny and profound at once...

This poem also explains why I don't lock my door.


Yup, I laughed-out-loud too. And a second laugh, imagining you wiggling in through a window - something I've done many times in my life. Thanks too for the lift with the poem. I was almost to it and you gave me the boost over the wall.



Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:40 am
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