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Joseph Cary

Professor David Thackey


Freshman Writing and Rhetoric
20 October 2014

Process Memo

Sometimes problems can arise in your poems when you writing them, but dont become
known until a third-party reads it. In the case of my ekphrastic poem, the subject of my poem had
become a bit ambiguous to my readers. Opinions were split, some believing it was speaking to a
lover of sorts, while others believed the narrator of the poem was speaking to death. In my head,
the narrator was speaking of death. This misunderstanding was because of lines such as those
found in the second stanza like Will you knock or come right in? Will you stay awhile or
leave? can be perceived as the narrator speaking of their lover and if and how theyll be visited.
My intent here was to personify death as a person (kind of like the grim reaper visiting you).
That first line was the narrator asking if he will know when death is coming or if it will just come
suddenly one day. The second, him asking if his death will be a slow one or a quick one. Another
confusing line lies in the last stanza, Till death do me part. This was intended to be a playful
ending, since death MUST do them part, and the line before tells of them resisting death with all
they have left, which would lead to his death anyways! One line that I dont think would work to
in favor of the idea of a lover being the subject matter would be If the walls ears are your own,
know this:. This line does not particularly make sense if we assume the subject matter is a lover.
I decided to just leave the ambiguous lines how they were, because I think there is more evidence

that argues for death being the subject matter, and the more someone reads it with a fresh set of
eyes, the more they will realize the true meaning of some of the lines. My ekphrastic poem was
inspired by the painting The Man on the Bed. The image does portray just that, but the context is
left up for the observer to decide. The image doesnt appear to be a hospital, but a man undressed
is handed papers by two men in suits at bedside. I portrayed the papers as having to concern
himself, and death happened to be what popped into my mind. The poem actually takes place
before what is portrayed in the painting, while the narrator lies in bed. I described the room as
white, since it symbolizes life and would contribute to the later lines discussing false hope. The
second line is an ambiguous line, meant to be taken literally (there is only one window in the
room) and metaphorically (he only believes he will die at this point, hence one viewpoint that he
sticks to).
For my memory poem, I wanted to take on a challenge of sorts, so I decided to use heavy
alliteration and a slightly less orthodox rhyme scheme. I think I did a great job overall of meeting
my expectations without suffering (aka struggling to paint the image of the memory into the
readers mind). I may not fully portray it explicitly, but I give them a pretty good guess through
the alliteration. The rhyme scheme I decided on was AAB CCD EEF GGH JJK. It doesnt jump
around too much from that structure, but within the actual lines, I made a rule that I generally
followed to aid in the flow of the poem. With the exception of the second and fourth stanzas, I
didnt use alliteration till the last line of the stanza, and I would use two words that would
alliterate next to each other, break it with other words, and end it with a word that alliterates with
the first two. The poem itself tells the story of one of my early birthdays, when my brother and
mother were swinging me, and decided to change things up by spinning me while doing so. I

quickly started to go out of my previous path and slammed my knee into a support beam holding
up the swing.
People reading my poem about a concrete object may not believe that its about a truly
concrete object. I wrote about my shadow, likening it to a stalker. Though shadows are dynamic
in the fact that they change often throughout the day, they are concrete because they are always
tied to a real person and what they do. Under a set of conditions, you can always predict what the
shadow will look like. I used a lot of personification in this poem as well, because it is one of my
favorite tools in writing. I decided that I would run through what the course of a day is like for
the (perceivably schizophrenic) man and his shadow.