Poetry Explication Paper

872 words - 4 pages

Poetry Explication The second sonnet in Mark Jarman's group of sonnets entitled The Word "Answer" can be interpreted two different ways. Is there a "right" way from which to view this poem, or is the poet simply exercising his God given right to ambiguity? Sonnet 2, as I will refer to it, revolves around someone sitting in a bathtub when suddenly there is a knock at the door, which soon turns into ringing and pounding, and finally the sound of breaking glass. Throughout the poem the person bathing debates whether or not to answer the door. By poem's end, the reader knows no more about the outcome than before the book was opened. Yet the importance lies not in a climactic conclusion, but rather the debate whether or not to let the strange knocker inside. Mark Jarman places the following quote by Karl Barth from Prayer at the beginning of his four sonnets: "Prayer exerts an influence upon God's action, even upon his existence. This is what the word 'answer' means." Sonnet 2 is the only of the four poems that does not explicitly mention prayer or God. Yet it is clear the poem deals with the same topic as the three sonnets with which it is grouped. The ambiguity of the poem lies in deciding which of the poem's two characters represents God and which represents the reader.Line one presents the all-important dilemma, "There's the door. Will anybody get it?" (Jarman 170). The bather hopes someone else will get the door because his warm bath is so soothing. The bather thinks of a substantial reason why not to answer the door. Chances are that "by the time he towels off and puts on his pajamas, robe, and slippers and goes down, they'll be gone…" (Jarman 171). These lines present the bather as being comfortable in his present situation, soaking in a nice warm bath. Allegorically, this is representative of someone who is comfortable with the way his life is, not wanting anything to disturb their present state of living; especially not God. Then again, it could be God in the bathtub while we stand outside wondering, while we pray, if God hears us, or if He is even there; a legitimate fear we all experience at some time in our lives.The next few lines state that, "nobody's here to answer it but h...

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