The first three lines of “Address to the Angels” set the scene in which the speaker envisions the events of the poem. As with many poems, the real action takes place within the mind of the narrator while he or she is physically somewhere else. Here, the speaker describes being in an airplane, “Taking off at sunset,” when the ascension of the plane makes the sun appear to be pulled up with it and “pin[ned] . . . over the rim” of the earth.
In these lines, Kumin offers a contradiction to the metaphor proposed in the first three lines. This time, the speaker questions whether the airplane, instead of pulling up the sun, seems more to “push down” the horizon as one may use a nail file to edge down a “loose cuticle.”
At the beginning of these lines, the speaker reveals her state of mind while she is traveling by plane. She is “up here grieving, tallying / [her] losses,” and, although she is not specific at this point, later in the poem she discloses the identities of those “losses.” For now, her mind wanders to a creation myth, possibly a take-off on a Native- American legend that contends the world rests on the back of a giant sea turtle, though here Kumin’s creature is a “giant fish” that is curled into a ring shape—with its tail in its mouth—making a suitable surface to hold a “flat” earth. In this myth, “sinners” meet their...
(The entire section is 1565 words.)
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