Monday, October 1, 2007

Red Shift Model Paper Example 5

This was a particularly good essay at tracing the change in tone in the poem. (If you ever notice the tone change in a poem and can understand either why the writer chooses to do so or how the writer changes the tone for purpose, then this is usually a rock solid thesis since it investigates how a poem works.) The integration of evidence was nicely done. A couple of the body paragraphs could have stretched the analysis, but this may just be my carping obsessions. I do think it would've been interesting, not just in this paper, to pursue the pun on the word air as well as the "contradictions" that run throughout the poem that a lot of you had noticed.

Meaghan Period 6

In “Red Shift,” Ted Berrigan titles his poem as such in order to exemplify the change in his tone as it progresses. The word “red” is synonymous with emotions that convey anger, so his tone grows in intensity and anger as he develops his thoughts. His thoughts decrease in clarity, while they conversely increase in specificity. This digression, exemplified through his changing diction, clearly denotes the change in tone, because anger usually triggers ambiguity.

At the beginning of the poem, the speaker starts to describe the setting; this is the most concrete information in the entire poem. He states the time, “8:08 p.m.” (line 1) and describes the “biting, February” (line 2) air. The speaker clarifies that it is a “winter streetscape” (line 3) that he is painting in the mind of the audience. He describes his body as an “ample, rhythmic frame” (line 1) while the wind does “fierce arabesques” (line 2). He clearly defines the setting in order to establish a base of where his thought process began. Without a starting point, it would be impossible to follow the train of thought. It proves that the configuration of the poem is methodical, not random.

The first shift in tone occurs two lines further, at the point where the speaker is able to “lean/In,” (lines 5-6). It is the bridge between the foundation and the memories that will substantiate the rest of the poem. When transitioning between two such things, the clarity level decreases, because memories can never be remembered to perfect accuracy, as time morphs and distorts them. He also begins to sound disillusioned and reminiscent, commenting that the “streets look for Allen, Frank,” (line 6). These two names symbolize two of Berrigan’s contemporary beat generation writers, and according to the following line, “Allen/is a movie” (lines 6-7) and Frank is “disappearing in the air” (7). This suggests that Allen has become very popular, like a movie, and Frank is gone, essentially from the world. Thus, the speaker seems depressed and lonely, feeling as though he has been abandoned. This is a sharp contrast to the beginning of the poem where is describing the setting in an upbeat tone.

Consequently, from this point on, his thoughts seem to wander farther and farther away from where he began; each thought takes a turn from where it was originally going. He begins with a question, asking “Who would have thought I’d be here,” (line 13) and that indicates a shift in topic and tone. He then elaborates that “love, children…money, marriage/ethics, a politics of grace” (lines 15-16) are “up in the air” (line 16), which implies that the ideals that were once held are no longer there. The “up in the air” reference, that was used previously to describe Frank, suggests that the views that once held true no longer exist around him, and he is frustrated because of it.

The boy with eyes that “penetrate the winter twilight” (line 20) is his first answer to the question, and the first sense of anger in the poem because the word ‘penetrate’ has a connotation of deep-seeded emotion; his gaze is breaking through the setting that the speaker created at the beginning of the poem, which is also representative of that shift in tone. His second answer is a “pretty girl” (line 21) who is “careening into middle-age so/To burn & to burn more fiercely than she could ever imagine” (lines 22-23). Fiercely also represents the anger and tenacity of the speaker, and he sounds as if he knew that events would turn out in such a way, and the people whom the events were happening to had no idea that it was happening. He could have been angry because of their refusal to believe in the situations that life was presenting them with.

The next answer is the “painter” (line 24). The speaker says he will “never leave [the painter] alone until we both vanish/into the thin air” (line 25). The air reference means that he is intensely devoted to this other man and nothing can tear them apart. The painter, consequently, will never leave the speaker “not for sex, nor politics,/ nor even for stupid permanent estrangement” (lines 27-28). This represents his deep attachment, and almost obsession, with the painter, because neither of the most popular reasons for two people to no longer have a relationship/friendship will ever tear them apart. He is holding on so tightly that it is becoming overbearing, and that is what he portrays in this segment of the poem.

The last eleven lines are the most irate of all, and this tone comes to the forefront when the speaker discusses death. He firmly states that he “will never die” (line 31) and will “never go away” (line 32). Because of his strong sentiments here, the speaker is afraid of death in a way, because he says he is “only a ghost” (line 33) and “you will never escape from me” (line 32). This attempt at speaking directly to the audience begins here, and so does the high level of ambiguity. He says he is “only pronouns” (line 35) and that is the biggest key to the vagueness at the end of the poem because he uses a multitude of pronouns that do not always have antecedents. In this aspect, the speaker is leaving the interpretation up to the reader of the poem, because it had a certain meaning to him, but it may have other meanings to whoever reads it. He says “now nothing/will ever change/That, and that’s that” (lines 37-39). The short, choppy sentences with very few syllables reflect his anger because the complex thoughts from the beginning and middle of the poem are no longer in use. He just says whatever comes into his head.

The last lines show the outcome of the speaker’s anger and his internal struggle. He says that he “slip[s] softly into the air” (line 41), which defines his ascent from the world. He is finally leaving his anger behind. Overall, the multiple shifts in tone reflect the thought process. A thought can trigger a repressed memory, and that memory causes one to diverge completely from his or her intended path and stray into the realm of thoughts that reflect hidden emotions of anger, frustration, and fear. Such is the case with “Red Shift.”

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

17 comments:

Emily R 6 said...

I think Meaghan’s paper is very well written. She efficiently makes the evidence flow with her sentences. She uses very good vocabulary throughout the essay. I thought it is great how she explained the title in the beginning, her reasoning and evidence backed up her topics very well. I had similar ideas about the title. Her conclusion is strong and connects the evidence to her thesis. I liked how she described the poem as being “vague” noting that the poem is open to different interpretation because many people have different opinions on what the poem’s true meaning actually is.

Caitlin H 5 said...

Meaghan wrote an exceptionally well written explication of this poem. I thought she described what she meant very well, and that she has a great vocabulary. Her ideas are interesting and I feel I have a broader understanding of Ted Berrigan's tone in this poem.

William C5 said...

Meaghan gives birth to a brilliant explication through her usage of vocabulary and integration of evidence. She expresses her thoughts very clearly and her explication if very well written.

Christina H 6 said...

Meaghan’s “Red Shift” explication is organized and cohesive. Her introduction paragraph outlines the key points of her explication. Each of the following paragraphs provides examples that connect back to her thesis. Meaghan’s explication is successful because she elaborates on the literary techniques that the authors decide to use and its effectiveness.

Rodney B5 said...

Meaghan’s explication is well organized and insightful. She introduces her key points in her thesis then follows it by elaborating more on her subject giving examples to support her thesis. Also, she maintains a grasp on her thoughts that allows the reader to clearly understand her points.

Michael R. 6 said...

There is a reason why Meaghan’s essay is one of the examples. Her explication of the poem went step by step just like it was supposed to be done. As I read her essay, I got the impression that I was reading the poem again but with a Ted Berrigan director’s cut. All aspects of the poem were analyzed and spoken about. NICE JOB MEAGHAN!!!!

Doris T5 said...

Meaghan’s explication of Berrigan’s poem is very astute and precise. Her evidence flows evenly and coincides with her thesis. I like her thesis the most because it’s right to the point. She uses exceptional vocabulary to bring her thoughts together. Meaghan’s conclusion was good too. It wrapped up her ideas nicely. By reading her explication
I now have a better understanding of Berrigan’s poem.

Ping L 6 said...

Meaghan's essay is successful in the sense that she has backed up her thesis with evidence throughout the poem. However, I think that she should give more explication in paragraph 2. And, the last sentence in the third paragraph does not agree with the facts. I love the second to last sentence of her essay.

michelle p 6 said...

Meaghan’s explication of Ted Berrigan’s ‘Red Shift’ does a great job of almost getting into the mindset of Ted Berrigan himself. Throughout her cited evidence and other examples, there is a reference to what Berrigan could have been thinking or why such lines were used, etc. These examples are also integrated very well, along with a great vocabulary that is sophisticated but not hard to understand, given that the context is explained so thoroughly. Meaghan did a good job of not getting lost or losing track of her thesis. The thesis and title of the poem is used frequently throughout the explication, giving a tie and understanding in the essay. Overall, I feel it’s the best explication written.

michelle p 6 said...
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thespina g 6 said...
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thespina g 6 said...

thespina g 6 said...
There is most definitely a very good reason that Meaghan's essay is one of the examples used. I've always admired Meaghan's efficient writing style. She is always to the point and uses her vocabulary in the most efficient ways. In this particular explication essay on the poem, "Red Shift" by Ted Berrigan, Meaghan builds a brilliant thesis and elaborates deeply throughout the paper. Meaghan adds detail and depth to every sentence and clears up anything the reader might be confused about. At least, that was the effect it had on me. My absolute favorite sentence is the second to last. Her conclusion sums up the paper in an efficent and simple way. Through her complexity, Meaghan simplifies her thesis.

Wendy C.5 said...

Meghan's explication of the Red Shift is organized and well written. She has evidence though out the poem to back up her ideas. She sticks to her topic of tones and did not digress. Overall, I feel that this type of explication is excellent.

Kevin Ta 5 said...

Through the use of rich vocabulary and thorough evidence, Meaghan crafts a very intellectual and coherent explication of the poem. Her excellent topic and concluding sentences of each paragraph tie back to the thesis both effectively and subtly, making the explication easy to read and understand.

Casie said...

Meaghan’s explication of Ted Berrigan’s ‘Red Shift' formulated well. She also has a strong solid thesis. She makes sure that she stays on the topic that she chose to write about. She does a great job on making clear points.

Shuyi G 6 said...

I think Meaghan did a good job on analyzing the diction and tone change. I like the way she made her whole paper flow smoothly, and she used decent vocabularies correctly.

Kev.Tran 5. said...

Meaghan starting with the explanation of the title was a great start. Both of Meaghan's grammar, vocab, and use of language are great (compared to me (currently)anyways). She does a great job analyzing tone, the meaning of the words used, and the overall meaning of the poem.