The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Wave” is composed of twenty-four lines in roughly four sections. The poem considers the essence of energy in the universe: The title refers to energy as it is manifested through the objects and forces in nature, for example, in a wave on the ocean. The poem also contains a central image of woman as a primary source of energy or life force in the universe. Beyond that, “Wave” is a meditation on the wonder of spiritual energy as it flows through and manifests itself in the poet’s own mind.

The poet begins by describing the various ways the effects of energy can be disclosed in the forms of natural objects such as clamshells, the wood grain of trees that have been cut in two by saws, and “sand-dunes, lava/ flow.” As the poem continues, the poet seems to be seeking to understand the very source of all energy.

The second section begins with the lines, “Wave wife./ woman—wyfman,” which are a reference to energy as mother or as female force, the sacred source of being in the universe. “Wyf” is an Anglo-Saxon word that is the root word for both wave and wife. Woman is described in the third line as “veiled; vibrating; vague.” The words “veiled” and “vague” refer to her mysterious nature. “Vibrating” refers to the kinetic power of natural forces, which in the following line, set “sawtooth ranges pulsing.”

Images of energy as manifested in the natural world continue. The poet enumerates: “great...

(The entire section is 437 words.)