The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“One Bone to Another” is a cycle of seven short poems. The title of the cycle establishes the mood and alludes to the personae of the poems, two bones that engage in an intimate dialogue about the human condition in their subterranean mise-en-scène. The titles of the individual poems indicate the setting and order of the events in the cycle. These events are depicted as occurring in the immediate present; and the bones express their reactions to them in the first-person plural or first-person singular. As the events unfold, each poem marks a shift in the mood of the bones, from smug independence and delight after being freed from their prison of flesh, to terror and helplessness at the realization that they must submit to the forces of human fate, and finally to bewilderment and despair when confronted with the inevitable transience of human existence.

The first poem, “Na poetku” (“At the Beginning”), expresses the bones’ relief and newfound sense of independence after freeing themselves from the “flesh”: “Now we will do what we will.” In the second poem, “Posle poetka” (“After the Beginning”), the bones gleefully begin to ponder the possibilities of their new existence; they will “make music,” and if any hungry dogs should come along, they plan to trick them: “Then we’ll stick in their throats/ And have fun.” This delight in the prospect of mischief turns to a delight in each other in the charmingly...

(The entire section is 471 words.)