Explication of a Poem

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Ted Kooser, the thirteenth Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner, is known for his honest and accessible writing. Kooser’s poem “A Spiral Notebook” was published in 2004, in the book Good Poems for Hard Times, depicting a spiral notebook as something that represents more than its appearance. Through the use of imagery, diction, and structure, Ted Kooser reveals the reality of a spiral notebook to be a canvas of possibilities and goes deeper to portray the increasing complexities in life as we age.

This poem opens with an extreme and vivid simile, “The bright wire rolls like a porpoise” (line 1). This beginning not only grasps the attention of the audience, but the image intensifying language that Kooser has chosen in order to describe the “bright” wire rolls creates a lasting image of a detail that would be overlooked. The author then goes on to compare “the bright wire rolls” to a porpoise going “in and out of the calm blue sea” (lines 1-2). This comparison creates a striking and vibrant image illustrating a porpoise exploring the deep blue sea as it chooses, as do the rolls which go through the blank pages waiting to be filled with unlimited potential. The next two lines contain another simile much like the last, “or perhaps like a sleeper / twisting in and out of his dreams” (lines 3-4). This idea of dreams signifies the power of exploration that can be found in a spiral notebook. Kooser goes on to illustrate the literal features as well. In lines 8-10 he describes the notebook as “college ruled lines and its covers / that states in emphatic letters / 5 SUBJECT NOTEBOOK”. Within these lines, Kooser creates a complexity within the notebook, adding on to the image of the spiral notebook by describing the covers and the lines. The complexity of the notebook that has been created does not only intensify the minute details of a mundane item, but also portrays the idea that complexities increase with time, much like this notebook’s...
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