What does this poem (Grey Glove by Roo Borson) mean?  I cant understand it.Grey Glove - Roo BorsonAmong branchesa bird lands fluttering,a soft grey glovewith a heart.The land at twilight.Swamp of...

What does this poem (Grey Glove by Roo Borson) mean?  I cant understand it.

Grey Glove - Roo Borson

Among branches
a bird lands fluttering,
a soft grey glove
with a heart.

The land at twilight.
Swamp of black mist
A first planet. A swordtip.
The bird of chanting
in a jail of darkness.

This is the last unclassified bird,
the one one never sees,
but hears when alone, walking.

You can see how far ive gone
not to speak of you.
Birds have made a simple bargain.
with the land.

The only song i know
is the i see with my eyes,
the one id give up my eyes
in order for you to hear.

Asked on by jwallz

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clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The best way to approach poetry in order to understand the meaning is to attempt to determine the answers to a few preliminary questions:

  1. Who is the speaker? Is it a man or a woman?  How old?  What are his/her thoughts, etc?  How do you know?  Remember, the author is not necessarily the "voice" of the poem.
  2. What is the scene?  Where does the poem take place?  Unlike setting in prose, the scene of a poem can be internal or external.  Also, it can be something very specific, or unspecified.
  3. What is the subject?  What does the poem seem to be mainly about?  Is there an object or is the poem more about an emotion?  This might be affected by whether the scene is internal or external.

In order to answer these questions, you must look at a few things going on in the poem.  Namely, images and figurative language.  I find that the easiest thing to do is make a list of the common images, and then as many figures of speech as possible.  Determining the meaning of figures of speech is easier when you have a list of other common images.

To help you get started, consider the following prominent images from this poem:

bird, branches, land at twilight, swamp, darkness

Now let's look at some of the figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification):

a soft grey glove with a heart (the bird)

swamp of black mist...first planet...swordtip (the land)

Birds have made a simple bargain

the only song I know I see with my eyes

Based on these images and figures of speech, you can probably guess that the scene is external, however, the speaker is also speaking to someone (the "you" he's not speaking of) which indicates that this external scene is used to make a point.

It sounds to me like he's gone to the end of the world (figuratively) to avoid thinking about a loss, either a death or a break up.  As a result, he is lonely.  The loneliness/solitude/quiet has given him the opportunity to notice natural things in detail, which of course only bring back thoughts of the "you" he's trying to forget.


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