Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
As one can see in much of Creeley’s later poetry, age and, more specifically, death take center stage. Of course, there is no fear in the poet’s voice. Rather, there is a conscious attempt to define and question the sorts of estrangement one comes to in old age. The first line, “Most explicit,” alone makes readers aware of the speaker’s devotion to adequately exploring his aged condition. The following nine or ten lines make up the metaphorical significance of that condition “as a narrowing/ cone one’s got/ stuck into,” and “any movement/ forward simply/ wedges once more.” In other words, time and age only move forward, and humankind must move with them despite any reticence to do so.
This realization naturally leads to further questions and eventually, in lines 20-34, the speaker meets a sort of communicative hopelessness; that is, how can the young, who are on the “other side all/ others live on,” ever be made aware of the harsh realities and health struggles they too will have to face in life? There is no way to exactingly address such communication or answer such a question, as signified in the ellipsis at the end of line 34. Lines 35 through 45 move readers away from such personal experience into a wider, albeit more difficult realm of thinking: the solitary nature of knowing one’s own mortality. Oddly enough, these lines usher Creeley’s audience into the more hopeful aspects of the poem’s subject matter, the...
(The entire section is 380 words.)
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