In "Falling Song" by Daniel David Moses, what is the message and how do the elements of this poem contribute to this message?Falling Song by Daniel David MosesThere was the sweet but...
In "Falling Song" by Daniel David Moses, what is the message and how do the elements of this poem contribute to this message?
Falling Song by Daniel David Moses
There was the sweet but reedy
honking of geese coming down
this morning with rain over
rush hour streets, coming
through like bells that celebrate.
I got right up, pushing up
close to the sooty window
pane. I peered out and up through
the weather, imagining
that that line of winged dots would
be shifting as if waves moved
easily through them, as if
waves floated them south. I wanted
to catch them riding, spots on
the wake of the wind, marking
the certain direction of
their migration. But I got
no satisfaction. Mist kept
them mysterious, quickly
dampening their call. Leaning
over the sill, I gaped at
a window shade dull sky, at
a hollow city, and felt
like I'd missed a parade I
would have wanted to follow.
The title of this poem, "Falling Song," is enigmatic in that we cannot immediately identify what is "falling." Sometimes, the title of the poem can point us towards the poet's intended meaning, but here we must parse it more carefully ourselves. The poet describes the honking of the geese as something musical, "sweet but reedy," "like bells that celebrate." We might suggest, then, that the "song" refers to the song of the geese, but equally we could posit that the song is the poem itself, describing the author's sense that while the geese are soaring he is "falling."
Certainly, there is a sense of extreme disconnect and disparity between the speaker, entrapped in a "hollow city" beneath a "dull sky," and the buoyancy of the geese, "spots on the wake of the wind." The geese's flight is connected to the freedom of various natural elements: their sound is "coming down . . . with rain," contrasting with the "rush hour streets," and they move "as if waves floated them south." The anaphora here—"as if waves"—seems to echo the natural tidal motion of waves themselves, retracing the same path—but "floating," rather than being constrained by the "sooty window pane" that keeps the author in his room. Where the geese move easily, figuratively separated from the author by the obfuscating "mist" which "dampened" their sound, the author can get "no satisfaction," and as the geese fly past him, he feels as if he's "missed a parade I would have wanted to follow."
The "message" of the poem, then, seems to be that containment in the dullness and rigidity of the city can leave us feeling trapped, yearning for the celebratory freedom accorded to the geese who, like freedom itself, seem very far away.
This is a poem about longing for connection with the natural world, and about a specific form of alienation, or failure to make that desired connection. The elements of the poem are primarily imagery: the poem uses images of the geese and the city repeatedly. After that, similes are used: the geese move like waves, and they call him to ride those waves, like a surfer. Repetition and alliteration are used; look at the "w" sounds and the repetition of waves. Mostly, though, it is the images that show us a many longing to connect with nature, but failing to do so in the city.