In "Masque," why does the poet begin in the first person then change into the second person?Masque I’m standing back, now, looking back at last on all those crowded days and nights relentlessly...
In "Masque," why does the poet begin in the first person then change into the second person?
I’m standing back, now,
on all those crowded
days and nights
on face and steet
each face, voice, mannerism
meticulously chosen and applied
that yours would be the one,
the one that slipped,
or didn’t fit,
the one the rest saw
over their shoulders
as they shrank away from you.
Strictly speaking, this poem is written in the first person alone, as the first line indicates:
I'm standing back, now...
If this poem did contain parts that were written in the second person, we would see that the poem contains lines that just focus on the action of the "you" and nothing else. However, you are right in indicating that there is a shift in this poem as the speaker begins to talk about herself (if it is a she), and then shifts to consider the person that she is addressing this poem to, the "you" of the poem. This places the speaker in relationship with this "you" of the poem and makes us think very carefully about what kind of relationship she has with this "you," who we might infer to be a man. What is disturbing and unsettling about this poem is that, from the evidence we are given, the speaker seems to present this "you" in ways that show her fear of him and indicate that he is a man that others fear and "shrink" back from. In particular, the second stanza indicates that others around him try to change their appearance and mannerisms out of fear of him.
This move therefore from the "I" at the beginning of the poem to the "you" at the end of the poem helps create an unsettling feel as we are left to wonder precisely what is so scary about the person this poem is addressed to.