Monday, October 1, 2007

Red Shift Model Paper Example 1

This is a solid example of a paper that investigates the shifts and growth of mood in the speaker. I think some more attention to the title in the thesis would be a nice addition. Also, I'm curious if the significance of the "painter" could be analyzed further here: it seems as if this structure of this body paragraph lends itself to further investigation.

Caitlin Period 5

Throughout the poem “Red Shift” by Ted Berrigan, the speaker of the poem sends out the impression of a pensive and pessimistic person of middle age reminiscing; this impression one gets is from the first line’s exact setting of the present time, the changes of time and thoughts, and his lamentation on life in general.

This deep thinking seems evident in the fact that after the 9th line in the poem (I heave/ through it, them, as”), there is no more description of the present place he’s in, but of all the many places he’s been before, with people he’s been with before as well. The speaker’s comments about “twenty years almost ago” and his reminiscing about people of his past show that he’s thinking back to certain periods of time that have nothing to do with the present, as they are past dates.

In the beginning of the poem, at “8:08 p.m.”, as the speaker walks down the street, seemingly to the reader almost at ease, he seems to travel with a walk that is “rhythmic”. Yet as he goes along, he seems to get more and more frustrated and negative in his views, and almost violent in his thoughts. He wonders, “ Who would have thought that I’d be here?”, as though he can’t believe where he is in his middle age. The people in his memories seem to have had a profound effect on him, such as “that pretty girl” of “nineteen” who has now entered the time of “careening into middle-age”. This is probably a lament for the time having gone by so fast as to have had himself and this girl of his enter their middle stage of life. Another person he recalls is “that practically a boy” whose eyes “penetrate the winter twilight at 6th & Bowery in 1961”. He seems to be talking about himself here, or sees a parallel to his own self, as the narrator and this boy are both mentioned to be in the snow at night, only he sees himself as younger in this memory and laments about how he misses his youth. However, a painter seems to have had the most profound effect of all on the speaker. The speaker, from their “very first meeting” never will leave him alone until each “vanishes into thin air” they “signed up for”. This painter will in turn “never leave” him, “not for sex, nor politics, nor even stupid permanent estrangement” of which is only the “human lot, and means nothing”. This painter seems to have been a best friend of the speaker, who made these promises only to have them turn out untrue, and this seems to anger him by his excessive repeating of how they will never leave each other. The speaker seems to look back and feel naïve.

The speaker then goes on to mention the song “California Dreaming” from his subconscious. He states that he would not do what the song implies. The song is about how it is too cold in the winter and that the warmth of another place, such as California, would be better. There are parallels between the person in the song and the speaker of “Red Shift”; they are both walking on a winter’s day, and they are both daydreaming in their own ways. Yet while the song’s ultimate statement is sunshine and youth and happiness, the speaker of the poem seems against the warmth and happiness of dreams. He seems to be reveling in his coldness and depression. He feels too old at forty-three to daydream about bigger and better things, and takes in only the coldness of what he’s seen in the world.

The speaker even goes on to confirm his wallowing in misery. He states that he will never die, and that he is a “ghost” despite his frame, a “spirit/ Who lives only to nag”. His explanation of a ghost seems to be someone who never dies, and never escapes his fate of nagging, or finding fault to complain constantly. Again, he is being haunted by his age, which is evident by how many times he talks about never dying. He sees himself as a ghost, trapped in his frame, while his spirit lives on hating everything and wanting to be set free. He seems immune to changing what he is, “and that’s that.//”

In the end, he sums up his life as “alone & crowded”, with an “unhappy fate”, as the “world’s furious song flows through” his “costume”. With this depressing ending, you can clearly see how unhappy this speaker truly is. He’s lost in a world of middle age, reminiscing of sad memories that won’t go away, and seems to be trapped within himself, unable to escape. He is taking all the sadness of the world into himself and is suffering for it.

The speaker of this poem, walking down the street, is taking in all of the sadness of what’s around him and what’s viewed through his eyes. His memories, as he is indeed reminiscing, are upsetting him because it’s reminding him of the sadness that is in the world; the things he cannot change or stop from happening (like the “love, children hundreds of them, money, marriage ethics” that he feels or sees by day, “burning even or still” ). Being of middle age, these things have a profound effect on him as he finally takes an interest in them and realizes how naïve he has been in his younger years.

Feel free to post any constructive comments here, or questions, or observations. Trenchant insights are always welcome but please (always) avoid pithy observations.

11 comments:

Janelle C. 5 said...

I thought Cailtin's view on the poem was interesting and profound. I didn't catch the remincing factor, to the entent that she did, but after reading her paper I can completely see exactly what she is talking about. I think it was a very observant and well research explication of the poem and I really enjoyed reading her paper. It made me see I side of the poem that I'm not sure I would have other wise.

Elina R 6 said...

After reading Caitlin’s first paragraph, I noticed how well her thesis statement is written. She clearly states her three main topics notifying the reader of what they are about to read. I also liked how her first paragraph is short and to the point. I tend to have a hard time writing my introduction paragraphs because I feel like they have to be long, but hers’ is a great example of how quantity is not as important as quality. The first sentence of the second paragraph was a little lengthy and I had to read it twice to understand what she was saying. But I like how that whole first paragraph introduces the third one. Over all, she did a very good job explaining her ideas with the usage of analytical and yet simple language. Some of her words did become a little repetitive (reminiscing, lament), but overall her usage of vocabulary flowed nicely.

Stephanie P. 5 said...

Caitlin did a great job on this explication. She did what was asked and I can see why it's posted up as an example of what the explications are supposed to be like. I thought it was real interesting that she wrote about the young man in the car and how the even though the speaker is talking about the boy she thought he is also talking about himself. I thought this was a very good point that people sort of overlooked. In the begining she gave the speaker a background which I thought was also good. I think this was a fine explication, from her thesis to her use of vocabulary.

Jessica F. 6 said...

I liked how Caitlin connected tones with certain passages in the poem and how each tone or change in tone connected with the speakers mood. I also like how she analyzed almost every inch of the poem and connecting it to her thesis. Caitlin seemed to be focused on the author's purpose for writing the poem, she may have made a lot of assumptions more than real facts but I liked how she pursued her piece with her views. I also like how she connected the speakers mood with his memories. Overall, her piece analyzed the poem very well. And I like how she kind of left us wondering whether or not her assumptions were true because I believe there are no straight forward answers to the purposes of other people's work, people view things differently.

Erika R. 6 said...

Erika R. 6

Meaghan did a great job. She has a very rich vocabulary which makes her paper look very sophisticated. I loved the way she explains the poem with a lot of detail and how every part of the poem seems to make sense after you read the essay. The parts of the paper are very well connected and when you read them, they sound very fluent. She did very well with expressing the author�s tone and how his emotions and thoughts change throughout the poem.
Benwit�s paper makes a lot of sense when he compares what the author says with what happens in real life. I think that this really helps to understand how the speaker is not just a character talking, but someone who is really expressing all his feelings.
I think that both students did a very good job�

Angela S5 said...

I really enjoyed reading Kaitlin's essay and thought that it flowed smoothly. Her thesis statement is clearly stated in the begnning and is nicely integrated throughout the whole essay. She never seems to go off the ideas of her thesis. Also, I really enjoyed the paragraph in which she compared the man walking down the cold wintery streets with the song California dreaming. This gave the essay a nice touch and overall it was well written.

Edmund H5 said...

While reading this explication I noticed how nicely Caitlin fitted the textual evidence into her writing. Her writing flowed nicely, using words to match the mood of the writing and using the words correctly. The writer’s thesis helped eased my concern that a thesis doesn’t have to be long. I had received comments saying how it should be longer which left me in doubt. The topics are clearly stated and the thesis is clearly written. She has done a fine job at analyzing the text and walks the reader through each idea and meaning line by line without confusion. The paragraph all connected with one another and her ideas never strayed from her thesis.


he seems to travel with a walk that is “rhythmic”.

Ricki L5 said...

I enjoyed reading Caitlyn's essay since it made since and it is always on topic. She uses many refrences from the text to support her ideas. Great Job!

Kristin D. 5 said...

I think Caitlyn's essay was very well written. The way she opened her paper it is very clear that she put a lot of though into writing the thesis statement. I totally agree that the speaker sends out the impression of a pensive and pessimistic person of middle age. The essay is also very organized. I also like how Caitlyn looked up outside information when referring to the song "California Dreaming." Overall i really enjoyed reading this essay because it was easy to follow and understand

Kenneth M5 said...

Caitlyn wrote an interesting paper, and it was a great view on the paper. Most of it felt like it explained without assuming anything, which is one of my personal problems. Reading this essay helps make it clearer on what my problem is and how I should go about describing what is going on.

Benwit L 6 said...

I find Caitlin’s essay to be well written and well structured. I commend Caitlin for the one sentence thesis sentence as it does everything a thesis should do and it does it beautifully. I also thought that exploring the meanings of “California Dreaming” helps the explication overall. Caitlin effectively proves how one small line in the poem can reveal so much emotion about the speaker. I feel that if Caitlin addresses some of the lyrics from the song, it would strengthen her explanation. It would give the reader a sense of assurance to know that the writer of the paper did some extra research.