This research is being carried out to analyze Robert Hass’s ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’. This paper has such sections: The ‘Lagunitas’ Meditation for Hass; Philosophy in the Poem; The General vs. The Particular; Significance of the Blackberry…
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This research will begin with the statement that Robert Hass is known to have spent much of his life residing in the ‘Lagunitas’, a rural town in Northern California, where beautiful forests, lakes, and green grass thrive and most importantly, it reserves the spot for the wildly growing blackberries which Hass makes reference to in the poem. Hence, the poet can be imagined to be taking a stride along paths surrounded by the scenic wonders in Lagunitas at which he might have found delight in meditating and composing poems altogether. As Hass speaks of the ‘clown-faced woodpecker’ and the ‘black birch’ in the 5th and 6th lines, the curious reader may readily suppose that these details appear specific as they are in association to the place, in the same way, the author may have held a special regard for Lagunitas being a particular setting. Since the poet is claimed to have sought inclinations with an Oriental school of thinking, the meditation carried out through his poem may be thought to derive influence in part from Hass’s religious endeavor with Buddhism and Hinduism. By the first and second lines, the poet necessitates introducing the piece by alluding that there exists loss as language fails with proper expression in “the new thinking”. A “clown- / faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk / of that black birch” is a metaphor for his quest for a more suitable expression and eloquence. The act of “probing the dead sculpted trunk” provides an imagery for such theme, justifying the fact that the struggle to find an exact identity with words is as painstaking as it gets in the process. At a point, saying “a word is an elegy to what it signifies” blends of tragedy with occasional beauty especially as the writer testifies to the truth about his friend’s voice in the 13th line where it possesses “a thin wire of grief”. This tonal conflict indicates how at times, poetic potentials may be limited by the approach and narrow scope of language the complexity of which is normally understood on a gradual basis. The General vs. The Particular Hass appears to be utilizing irony in the rather Platonic concept which distinguishes the unique worldly elements and the words that represent a uniform ideal. Such application of Platonic thought supports the first two lines as it vividly depicts the proof that general philosophical ideas can be clear but are practically useless while personal experience counts in developing conveyable philosophical thought. Despite this, the narrator sounds appreciative with “the luminous clarity of a general idea” even though the intricacy in specifics removes its original essence. Close It is seemingly through the lamenting about “loss” that words along with the human experiences bound to which as well as the ability to recount them, lose their intended significance. The significance of the Blackberry On the second half of ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’, the poet diverts his path of discourse from the notion of the general to the certain ensuing splendor which bears another subject of particular value. Brought by the transition stating that “everything dissolves: justice, pine, hair, woman, you and I”, the term ‘woman’ which gets mentioned twice in the 16th line constitutes softness in thought as if Hass chooses to mellow from the former mode of heavy meditation.
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