That Moment, Which You Could Love, What of It The Poem

Dave Smith

The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“That Moment, Which You Could Love, What of It” is a short free-verse poem, its forty-one lines divided into six roughly equal stanzas. The unusual title indicates both an acknowledgment of the fleeting nature of experience and an irreverent tone. The absence of a question mark following the title heightens the impression of irreverence, but the poem’s serious intent eventually supersedes any initial hints of flippancy or cynicism.

The poem is written in the second person. Although in general usage the second person is employed for direct address, in modern poetry it is often used, paradoxically, as a form of the first person. Dave Smith has chosen to refer to himself as “you” as a way of transcending himself and of including the reader intimately in his vision and experience, an intimacy that would be far less intense had he chosen “I.”

The poem begins with the poet reporting primarily on the time of day—dusk—and the weather—unchanged, below freezing. There is more, however, in the first stanza; when dusk appears with “a newspaper under its arm, gray/ overcoat flapping,” readers rightly begin to feel that they are in for an extraordinary experience.

In the second stanza, the poet takes us from a memory of snow and ice “hunched in the aborted grass” through a swift-moving chain of associations to an immediate perception, in the stanza’s last line, of the objective reality of ice on his window. Just as...

(The entire section is 547 words.)