Sunday, May 30, 2010

Final Notation by Adrienne Rich

Introduction and Theme
Final Notations is thematically an ambiguous poem. The poem is not understood because of the flowing imagery or stylistically presented issues, but because of the reader’s individual perception of the poem. We can say that unlike Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, which has a few fixed themes and issues, Final Notations is infinite in its interpretations.

Final Notation is a cultural, political and personally emotional poem which has been written in a simple and neat style with careful economy of words. The poet is experiencing new lifestyles, sexual issues, motherhood tensions, friendship or even doctor patient relationship. Final notations shows the last message of the poet or the New World Order of a colonial power when it has controlled a territory or is coming to control it.

In short, we can say that Final Notation shows us things which are difficult at first become easy, things which are strange at one time, become familiar at another, things which may seem painful, but become joyful and pleasant which encountered and things which people apparently looking disgusting in the first impressions, later become our heart and soul with the passage of time.

A Critique of Final Notations
This is a fine, simple and little piece of poetry. The speaker is taken to be a lover and the addressee is the beloved. The lover is telling the beloved how to make love. The relationship between man and woman is very complex and this is the point to which the poem alludes.

The poem also shows a pregnant woman who is going to be operated on by her doctor and the doctor is giving instructions to the patients on how to react in this operation or is trying to reassuring the patient so that the seemingly difficult operation for the patient should be completed without any complication.

The poem has layers of meanings and open to various interpretations and the reader should be feel at large to interpret the poem at whatever level he wants. However, the approach suggested for the reader is three-fold. The first is male-female relationship, doctor-patient relationship and the policy of the colonial powers with the poor nations. Though some people might not agree, the poem does have imperialistic allusions in it structure and the American dominating attitude towards the world at large.

The poem is structurally simple, but thematically complex. The language is neat and no difficult word used, but the use of structure is ambiguous.

Development of Thought

Doctor-Patient relationship
The only complete analogy and supposition found in the poem is that a pregnant woman is lying before the doctor, may be to be delivered or her first visit to the doctor regarding her pregnancy. When the doctor is giving her instructions about the new experience. Though it looks difficult, yet

It will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
It will not be long, it will occupy your thought

The procedure is not long. Normally, it takes a few minutes unless complications arise. The child seemingly so disturbing and troubling in the belly of the mother after a short time and struggle on part of the woman will be delivered. As she says,

It will be short, it will take all your breath

The procedure may be difficult for some women who are taking this first experience, but it is very simple if it taken to be so. The few months of pregnancy are touching and delicate, special care needs to be taken, the overall trouble becomes a reward for the mother. As the doctor is says,

It will be simple; it will become your will.

The disturbing child in the belly ironically becomes the passion, will and the centre of full attention for the mother. The wants to get rid of the child during the delivery, but after the child is born, it becomes the most important thing of the world for her.

Lover and beloved relationship

It will not be simple, it will not be long
It will take little time, it will take all your thought
It will take all your heart, it will take all your breath.
It will be short, it will not be simple.

A young girl, running towards teens, feels a number of strange romantic and ideal desires, looks for partners and once finding a partner becomes terrified at the idea of physical relationship. As the woman, however bold or open-hearted, is naturally shy and repressed, is unable to understand the nature of the first physical union.   Ultimately the responsibility is left to the lover who in a small and brief style tries to explain the importance and process of this newfound physical relationship. The nature of this relationship is not simple, but once experienced, it will bring abundance of joys in the life the partner. This physical relationship may be the first one in the life of unmarried woman or may be the first on the first marriage night in which the lover is trying to make physical contacts. Thus things seemingly looking dangerous or troubling are sometimes sweet in actual experience.

Sexual Harassment in the Final Notations

It will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
It will not be long, it will occupy your thought
It a city occupied, as a bed is occupied
It will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

The modern world is the age of harassment especially for women. The young girls let loose for various experiences in the name of freedom and modernity or broadmindedness fall a prey to such harassment where studs try to encourage these young modern girls into such physical activities. These studs gradually make women slave to their own appetites; they occupy their bed like a ruler occupies a city. They leave them no options but be ruled and controlled by their passions.  The studs use various tactics to convince their new prey of the physical contact. The newborn and uncontrolled desires in women ultimately lead them astray without proper management or responsibility of their parents.

Theme of Eagerness and Oneness in Love

It will be short, it will take all your breath
It will be simple, it will become your will

Final Notations can also be taken to be a pure love poem in which the poet wants to achieve pure love regardless of the metaphysical speculations of Donne or casualness of Surrey-Wyatt in a concise and simple language. The most important point in lovemaking is eagerness and wilfulness. It is not difficult to achieve this state if sure determination and seriousness is show. This seriousness leads to oneness of the lovers when love becomes a passion or will of the two.

Unfaithfulness of the lover

You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
You are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
You are taking parts of us into places never planned
You are going far away with pieces of our lives

The lover has left her beloved and went on to establish relations with some other woman and as a result he leaves a note behind giving her instructions that she should forget him. The above lines are an ample proof of this interpretation. The beloved outbursts into the above lines. The repetition of ‘coming into’ reinforces the idea of establishing relation with the beloved first and the phrase ‘pieces of life’ symbolises faithlessness and quit love on part of the lover. The love once developed in the beloved by the lover is disintegrating and those pieces are being shared by the lover with some body else.

Style, Imagery, Symbolism and Technique

The style of the poem is simple. There is no stylistic ambiguity. The only ambiguity lies in the nature of theme or the message of the speaker and also the identity of the speaker and the addressee needs to be resolved by different speculations from the reader. The themes of the poem range from personal to social, medical, psychological, political and emotional.
The repetition of different lines and words show intensity and importance of the theme (though theme is not directly addressed by the poet, it is to be explicated by the reader on the strength of his speculation. The lines are erratic which symbolise the complexity of the theme, again whatever it may be.
The title has been made ambitious. Does it related to music, dictation or what? In short, the poem is not rich in great images or symbols. The only thing important about the poem is complexity and that is what it is rich in.

Cutting the long story short, we can say that the poem depends on the experience of the reader for various interpretations. The complexity of the poem is also caused by the extreme subjectivity in the poem. The poem is too personal to understand in its true perspective. This complexity is the typical characteristic of modern American poetry which is based on confessional and experimental nature of their artists.

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