Can you help me with the phrasing in "Black Monday Lovesong" by A.S.J. Tessimond?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A.S.J. Tessimond's poem, "Black Monday Lovesong," I believe that the author intentionally structures the poem, through phrasing and line/stanza construction, to mimic a dance. In fact, the poem is a metaphor that compares a dance to love.

The poem's first line indicates that "love's dances" are a central theme to the poem, in that the author repeats these lines—essentially telling us that this idea is very important.

The rest of the first stanza (eleven lines remaining—longer than a poem's traditional four-line stanzas) lists opposites, that mimic not only movement, but a foward-and-back motion such as dancers follow. Reading the poem aloud, we can imagine the one dancer pushing or pulling the other dancer, as they essentially move in together—one forward, the other back…like people in a relationship trying to find the right moves, tempo, etc.:

One retreats and one advances.

One grows warmer and one colder,

One more hesitant, one bolder.

These "motions" start with physical movement, but then change to emotional "states of mind:"

One is smiling and concealing [physical actions]

While the other's asking, kneeling. [an emotional state]

The second line may seem like a physical movement, but in that this is a metaphorical dance, the second person is struggling to keep in step in the "dance of love," (trying not to lose the other's love), while the other is "keeping secrets" or hiding his/her true thoughts "concealing," thereby making the dance more difficult to "follow."

The next "stanza" of six lines is written in such a way that the momentum of the poem increases; the repeated use of "And" gives the listener the sense of not only hurried "motion," but also of frantic, twirling chaos. The dancers are in serious trouble as they spin around, almost out of control—simply by using "And" repeatedly, and the author gives us negative images in the short phrases; the brevity of the phrases adds to the sense of speed:

And the tune misleads the dancer

And the lost look finds no other

And the lost hand finds no brother

The last actual four-line stanza is structured in such a way that the relationship between the lovers, both their loss of physically smooth movements and proximity, and their emotional connection, is broken. Perhaps we can imagine the two coming apart on the dance floor, no longer in step with each other. This is obvious with the author's use of the word "falter," which could indicate tripping, a terrible mistake on the dance floor.

The ellipses (dots) between the choppy phrases in the last two lines give the listener the sense that the two dancers (lovers) separate, stumbling in opposite directions, each looking for their "perfect dance partner"  somewhere else:

Next time…one day…one day…next time!