What do you think ?I need some peoples interpretation of this poem.Eileen Myles That Country I’ve justnever knownwhatto callthat country.If I sayEnglandI don’t thinkI sound sosmart. I...

What do you think ?I need some peoples interpretation of this poem.

Eileen Myles

That Country



I’ve just
never known
what
to call
that country.
If I say
England
I don’t think

I sound so
smart. I keep
tripping up
on their language which is English
so shouldn’t their
country be the
same. Britain seems wrong,
does anyone
go to Britain?
People go to London
that’s where they go.
There’s really no country at all
just a city
huge, old
haven’t been there for a while.
& UK is just a concept
a fashion statement
an economy
it seems you could have
a relationship
with that
but you wouldn’t go there
you would allude.
Though, it includes everything,
doesn’t it: the UK.
Ireland, Scotland,
England, all of it.
England is right

in there, but no place
else, which is why
I never say it.
But what about the
language they speak.
English. My penmanship
sharpens up. I go to
       school.
Slowly the words appear
on a line. Could I
write in that language
Think in it
Do I
am I missing something.
I really think a lot:
The second l in really
staggered into a y
the letters got
drunk. I wanted
to fuck up this
language & blame
its nameless
homeland:
the victors got drunk
they came & came
the words were never
the same again
in the last century
it came to us
to speak American
which means
to speak
where you land
which means
nothing now.
Not proud
but invasive.
Not the language
not the place
not them
not us
neither an island
nor a continent
nor a world
a spin without
a home.

An edgy
feeling. A coin
on its
side
speaking up

2 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I've tried not to look at the first answer because I don't want to be influenced.  So I hope I won't repeat it, but I doubt I will because I think that person is actually a literature person and I'm not.  So -- disclaimer here -- I don't know what this is about but you asked for interpretations so I'm assuming you want a variety.  Mine comes from the point of view of someone who's not an English teacher and someone who hates this kind of "poetry."  But here goes:

At first I thought that it was something about identity and that the poet was English.  I thought that it was about how there's nothing that holds the UK together any more in these modern times.  But then after the line "England is right" it didn't seem to be saying that anymore.

So then I thought it's about English as a language and how weird it is because it's come from so many different sources.

And then I thought maybe she thinks that's negative because she talks about "victors" who "came and came" (I wondered if that was supposed to sound sexual) and the words were never the same.

So maybe she's saying that she hates English because it's the language of people who have oppressed other people -- who have come and conquered them.  I googled the poem so I could read it easier and it says she's lesbian so that might make sense that she'd feel oppressed.

So that's what I ended up with -- I think it's an anti-tradition (London is just some old place that doesn't matter) and anti-power (reference to the conquerors).  I think she equates the language with these things.

I'm probably wrong...

kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

This is a very witty contemporary poem that takes up the new world order of Globalization and Postmodernism where extreme hybridity has led to an impasse in zeroing down on anything. One  thing always appears to be everything or nothing for that matter.

De-spatialization and the problematics of naming is at the core of the poem. The problems voiced would have to be understood in terms of the prevailing multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism of today's world. To name the national space seems to be the basic problem, which also opens up the issue of nation-states, nationhood for that matter moving out gradually with the onset of globalization.

The poem also implies the issue of forced Americanization, the spread of multilingualism which has made sure that it is not possible to codify a nation, solely in terms of a/one language. There are always others, as it were, waiting in the wings.

The space in this postmodern globalized world is a space of flow and fluidity--an intermediary of sorts. That is what leads to the feeling of being a vestigial figure, always on the edge. It is money and money alone, that makes all the difference in this age of high capitalism.

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