Next you’ll be applying to one poem what you know about the techniques poets use to achieve compression, impact, and an emotional response from their readers. The poem you’ll be looking at is “Adolescence” by the Canadian poet P. K. Page. When you think of the topic of adolescence, what thoughts and feelings spring to mind? Take a moment to answer this question by brainstorming, webbing, listing, or freewriting—whatever way you feel best helps you express your feelings and ideas. If you can, ask another teen and an adult to tell you what they associate with that word, and discuss your ideas.
Now read “Adolescence,” using a chart like the one you were shown in Lesson 28 to record your responses to the ideas, feelings, and language in the poem. Remember to leave yourself open to the imagery and mood of the poem; to appreciate it fully, you must respond with your emotions as well as your intellect.
In love they wore themselves in a green embrace.
A silken rain fell through the spring upon them.
In the park she fed the swans and he
whittled nervously with his strange hands
And white was mixed with all their colours
as if they drew it from the flowering trees.
At night his two-finger whistle brought her down
the waterfall stairs to his shy smile
which, like an eddy, turned her round and round
lazily and slowly so her will
was nowhere—as in dreams things are and
Walking along the avenues in the dark
street lamps sang like sopranos in their heads
with a violence they never understood
and all their movements when they were together
had no conclusion.
Only leaning into the question had they motion:
after they parted were savage and swift as gulls.
Asking and asking the hostile emptiness
they were as sharp as partly sculptured stone
and all who watched, forgetting, were amazed
to see them form and fade before their eyes.
Did you have difficulty understanding “Adolescence”? Keep in mind that many poems need to be read several...
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