What is the poem, The Swimmer's Moment by Margaret Avison, about?
TheSwimmer’s Moment / Margaret Avison
The swimmer’s moment at the whirlpool comes,..."
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Margaret Avison tels the reader that "Everyone" will at some time or another face challenges, his or her own "whirlpool." Unfortunately, some people will not recognize or rise to this challenge and they will miss the "moment." Although they will not have to suffer "The black pit," they will also not benefit from "The mysterious, and more ample, further waters."
Life for people who do not take risks and who sit on "the rim of suction" may be boring, as revealed by their "bland-blank faces." She does warn, however that, unfortunately, for those who do try and who "dare the knowledge," success is not guaranteed and they may suffer " an eternal boon of privacy." No-one will ever know what they discovered during their risk-taking and their "secret" will remain theirs alone.
Avison suggests that it is worse not to have tried or be able to "even guess at the anonymous breadth" and reminds the reader that "one or two have won." She lets the reader know that the reward in striving for this goal is "The silver reaches of the estuary." The estuary represents fulfilment and is a calm and relaxing place. An estuary is a place where streams converge, and represents the ultimate goal. Estuaries contain eco-systems which are very productive and the mix of sea water and fresh water result in unique communities. Thus the reader can understand the benefits of making it all the way to the estuary.
Well first Margaret Avison is considered to be a religious and spiritual poet, critics have said she is one of the great metaphysical poets from the 17th century. I have included a link that will give you a lot more information on Margaret Avison, and background knowledge can sometimes be the key to understanding.
As for the poems meaning first it would be wise to point out that it is not actually about a physical pool or swimming. However "the swimmer's moment at the whirpool" lets say means that a swimmers' skills are being put to the test, and if they cannot fight their way out of the whirlpool then they would die. So she is using this situation to say that in life there might come a time when you need to either rise to some certain occasion and you either will succeed or not. The poem is in a broad sense about life and making those tough decisions and whether they will destroy you or not. I have included also a like to a page that the poem is broken down into piece by piece, it offers a great answer to the question what the poem is all about.