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By Kaas Baichtal on Thursday, May 11, 2000 - 11:10 pm: Edit Post

This is a forum for discussion of Kaas Baichtal's poem, "Transitions".

By Eliza on Friday, May 12, 2000 - 1:05 am: Edit Post

Starts out very beautiful - ends very sad. I wish (again and again and again) that I could experience snow....

By Mary Lou on Friday, May 12, 2000 - 8:44 am: Edit Post

I admit, snow is fun, at least as it's experienced in Virginia, where it melts in a day or two. However, somehow I suspect that Kaas had the Minnisotan kind of snow in mind: the type that hangs around forever collecting soot, and then melts, leaving icy puddles for you to step in.

Actually, the mood of the first two stanzas reminds me of the sort of poetry Goethe popularlized, while the last two have more the sense of betrayal-by-the-natural-order of Heine's "Die schlesischen Weber".

Sorry for the German poety references; I took college-level poetry in German, but not in English. And it happened to be a great class, so it stuck. Let me see if I can translate for those unfamiliar with these poets:

Goethe was the head German Romantic. He tried very hard to write light, lyrical poetry about the beauties of Nature. Unfortunately, he was working in the German language, which really isn't suited for the task. So even that nice little poem of his about walking in the woods and picking violets has an undertone of ponderous menace, at least for an English speaker, simply because of the sound of the words.

Kaas created the same sense of veiled menace in English by choosing snow and ice as the aspect of Nature which her protagonist is finding beautiful. They are beautiful--but anyone who's lived through the winter in a place where it snows a lot knows that they are also sterile, treacherous, and uncaring. So right from the start, there is the undertone of impending doom.

Heine's specialties were irony, sarcasm, satire, and social activism. "Die schlesischen Weber" was inspired by an attempted uprising by desperate workers in the textile industry, which was ruthlessly suppressed. The poem is about the betrayed workers weaving a threefold curse into a shroud intended for Germany itself. It goes into loving detail about the betrayals of the workers by king, country, and God. Believe me, if there's one thing the German language does well, it's cursing. Shakespere's witches on the heath in Macbeth don't come close.

There's that same hard core of resistance in Kaas's final line--even dying at the bottom of the lake, it's an open question whether the snow/ice has defeated the protagonist, or whether they have merged to become one thing.

The whole thing adds up to a great metaphor for the Sime need cycle--the psychological pressure of that constant awareness that the supply of selyn will be used up within the month would be harrowing. A common escape, particularly in junct times, would be to try to _become_ need. (Wasn't there a Cold War era movie about a guy who fell in love with the nuclear bomb?)

OK, Kaas: now we need a fifth stanza to complete the cycle, in which our Sime escapes the river bottom, only to discover that it can't be shaken completely.

On second thought, scratch that suggestion and keep going with Undertow.

By Yon on Friday, May 12, 2000 - 10:23 am: Edit Post

Back to fairy tales again. This poem reminds me of "The Snow Queen." The description of the boy's enchanted bondage in the Ice Castle. His sister finally found him, and her tears melted the splinter of the evil mirror that had frozen his heart . . .

By G'ma on Tuesday, October 22, 2002 - 9:51 am: Edit Post

Beautiful words, beautifully expressed. Life is like that...when you're "in the deepest", you float back up.

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