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Analysis and comments on Saturday At The Border by Hayden Carruth

Comment 10 of 10, added on December 31st, 2015 at 10:05 PM.


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Comment 2 of 10, added on September 13th, 2009 at 5:38 AM.

i honestly think that this poem is effective in conveying its messages.it
is modern while retaining its conventional identity

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Comment 1 of 10, added on September 19th, 2005 at 3:04 PM.

Hayden Carruth does an exquisite job of adding a modern twist to the
villanelle in ,"Saturday at the Border". Although in some sense he adheres
to the traditional design of the form, his sometimes colloquial diction
steers away from the formality of past villanelles. As with all
villanelles, the repitions of specific phrases leads you to suspect that
the poem must be taken beyond paraphrase, and there are also deliberate
ambiguities that allow for multiple interpretations. Carruth correlates his
first attempt at creating a villanelle with being "seventy-one, and feeling
old and tired" and with "the old death-knell." This could mean that either
the fact that he is writing a villanelle in the first place is reason
enough for impending doom, or that he is contemplating his own closeness to
death. There is much play on his annoyance with writing a villanelle. The
mention of hell once again suggests that the villanelle is a precursor to
his own demise. Does he believe that he is on his way to hell or maybe in
hell (figuratively speaking) at the time of writing? There is even more
mention of his aversion to the villanelle; at this point it is beginning to
seem almost as if he is obligated to write the poem. Is this a metaphor for
fighting against death? Maybe he doesn't want to die but he is hesitantly
accepting the inevitable? The focus changes, but not entirely, when Carruth
sends the message to our "young world" about other causes of the
death-knell such as "the sun's salvos" and the"dead-blue sky" and "bigots"
and "bankers of Arizona." Is this a reference to environmental issues and
the abandonment of natural living for the acceptance of materialistic and
superficial living? There are several messages to the young people of
America that Carruth is trying to get across:1. A warning about ideologies
having the ability to "compel children" to violence. 2. A suggestion that
an ideology in itself is war because it is an overall fallacy. All the
while, he portrays the villanelle as fragile, although the villanelle is
usually viewed as powerful, in an attempt to vallidate his concerns
further. If a sturdy villanelle cannot do the job, which forum will be
effective? Carruth hints at having to parade himself around like some cheap
lounge act even as he fears that young people will downplay the imperative
message that he is trying to portray in the line where he states, "And must
I go sell myself?" Only to be belittled and thought of as an "Old poetry
guy with his spaced out death-knell." In short, the poem ends with a
rumination about "being far from home" and writing in a different place
(mentally and physically) than when "he was inspired." Instead, Carruth
writes about a death-knell that is relevent in society today.Overall,
Carruth utilizes the characteristics of the villanelle that are pertinent
to such an intense message. The return to the death-knell is threatening
enough to stir a reaction from the reader. At the same time, Carruth
touches upon the gap that exists between the old and the young. Even as
children, young Americans have the tendency to ridicule their "nagging

Lisbeth from United States

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Information about Saturday At The Border

Poet: Hayden Carruth
Poem: Saturday At The Border
Volume: Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems 1991-1995
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 5900 times

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