Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review of "In a Landscape: IV" by John Gallaher

"In a Landscape: IV" by John Gallaher, a teacher at Northwest Missouri State University, was offered by Poets.org's Poem-A-Day on November 18, 2013.  A link to the poem, including the poet's notes, may be found here:


The poet reveals in his notes that this poem was inspired by "In a Landscape" and SILENCE by John Cage.  The poem is part of a much larger work.

The poem opens with "Now the scene changes."  This is a warning that the scenes described in this rather rambling prosaic poem will change rapidly.

The poem is divided into three stanzas.  The first, after rambling a bit about philosophical nothings, finally gets to its point of the helplessness felt by parents whose child is hospitalized.  The parents tend to blame themselves for circumstances beyond their control.  The sad part here, as the poet points out, is that the parents have to deal with both the actual sickness of their child as well as their own irrational response to it.

The second stanza continues with the theme of the irrational parental reaction.  Then, it suddenly veers into a scene where the poet becomes trapped under a filing cabinet that he was moving up a flight of stairs.  Filing cabinets usually hold documentation of the past.  This may be a metaphor for literally being crushed or overwhelmed by past circumstances.  This idea is borne out by the poet's frequent references to museums.

The final stanza relates impressions of a minor motor vehicle accident in which the poet was involved.  The poet reveals in his notes that this part is unfortunately based on actual events.

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