EASTER AND SOUTH KOREAN SEA
Updated: May 21
There is but one hole in God's argument with the ocean, children fall through there, 300 of them.
They know nothing of rhetoric.
I see them walking on water, letting go of the ferryman's hand they trusted. They must be safe now, guided to God knows where, under The Southern Cross.
The stars up here, where I live, seem indifferent as abandoned lighthouses.
The Northern Cross rises on its side, weighing down the shoulder of the horizon.
So many children lost at sea feel like my own, and I could weep enough to bring on glaciers.
David Thane Cornell
The moving Images in postcard poetry:
Prose Poem Ester and South Korean Sea is Written by David Thane Cornell who is a renowned American poet. This poem is based upon the real incident "South Korean ferry boat disaster which happened in 2014.
Prose poems are like horizontal boxes or a photograph hanging in the gallery. Though they are hybrid in nature but in core it harbours many poetic devices except line breaks. Line breaks are the main demarcation device between prose poem and free verse. Most of the prose poems are fragmentary or representing a moment and this poem is not an exceptional one. Now in the modern era many informational technologies are at hand like TV, internet, digital ones and newspapers . They are helping in the construction of art and poems in their own way.
An incident of drowning of three hundred children in the south korean sea came through informational wheels to the poet and it irked a gush of emotion. It weaved in layers and arranged in proper horizontal spacing making a facade of prose poem. Here in superficial glimpse it looks like a fragment but after probing through chiselled vision a panorama of photographs are hidden here making it a full gallery!
Hole is a metaphor of an accident which happened due to disharmony of God and ocean. Mortal children are treading in the astral world and this one is totally metaphysical conception. A world exists after death that is called an ethereal world and a true artist like a stoic knows to scan it. Leaping emotions in the poetic fabric fetch it back in the mundane world.
Poem’s caption is ester which is the resurrection day of Jesus Christ from the dead. Here children are also resurrected in the other world after drowning in the poet's imagination. He sees children walking on water, it could be his imagination inspired by belief that after death astral body is beyond mundane limitations. Poet assures himself that children must be safe in God's canopy. This self assurance is nothing but an effort to get rid of agonising pain which is brimming in poet. For it even seeks god though in personal belief poet is agnostic.
Isn't the invention of god and the astral world was to sooth pain and fear ?
The poet tells “ the star up here, where I live, seems indifferent as abandoned lighthouses” .
Death of children has made this world stale and lifeless even the stars look faded.
Poet is interested in astronomy and it has come in his other poems also beside this one. Southern cross is a constellation of four bright stars in the southern hemisphere that are situated as if at the extremities of a cross also. The Northern cross is also a constellation of stars and both crosses are symbolising somehow God and Jesus in the subconscious mind of the poet. Metaphors have mysterious origin and they lie in the vast complexities of human imagination.
The northern cross is weighing down the shoulder of the horizon. Doesn,t it symbolises pain and agony of Jesus weighing a cross on his shoulders. Endurance of pain for humanity ! Here pain endured by poets is symbolised in Christ and northern and southern crosses are metaphors making simulacrum solid and alive between spiritual, astral world and visual world.
The poem closes with concluding lines that “ I could weep enough to bring on glaciers.” Tears would have snowed as poet wishes, mental agony is so stressful. Glacier is metaphorizing it.
Metronymic associations are one of the core traits of human thought which moves rapidly from one thing to another. Metronymy helps in weaving the things in an eternal chain. Glaciers and tears snowed with pain are an example of metonymy.
Notwithstanding compression, brevity, verbal dexterity, and an associated sense of rapid movement, this prose poem is filled with large worlds. From cosmos, to glaciers, to ocean to astral world all are encompassed in a fragment. A nice example of elastic treatment of time and space !
The use of commas in this fragment demonstrates how prose poetry is able to make judicious use of punctuation and tight phrasing to squeeze a plethora of imagery into a small space-- in this case ocean, ferryman, southern and northern cross, glaciers".
The end of the poem is on the edge of aching heart-- a lot of hidden passion. It creates a lyrical frisson by pointing the reader's anticipatory eyes in that direction.
Here poem has become a paragraph and incantation of poetic diction has flattened by sentences.
Really a story of a successful prose poem !
Dr Pragya suman