Point of view is simply where we are coming from, though which lens we are peering, peeping, sneaking into the poem. Are we charging from the point of view of a rampant lover? Are we a rabid dog? Are we feeling someone’s pain? Joy? Ecstasy? But, does the point of view in fact, really and true to the truth, only come from one person…one brain place…one hand? Maybe, though sometimes it’s more like steps off, an interpretation of an interpretation, a secondary or tertiary source.
Mark Jarman presents five different interpretation of ‘God’ is his poem, Five Psalms. It’s likely, or not, that at least one of these ideas is in fact his own belief…or the opposite of such.. or none of the above. We can know for sure, as readers, that at least ‘someone’ out there is the wide world would or could feel a particular way about that spirit which some believe is guiding us forward as humans (or into destruction, but we won’t get into that.) The first psalm, 1, reads with a near erotic feel, ‘let us think of kissing/God with the kisses/ Of our mouths, of lying with God,’ (Jarman). Sounds just a little dirty to me, of course maybe I’m just getting old.
In the second part of the poem, 2, we see more of an exchange between God and worshiper, a further explanation of their relationship. Jarman also uses repetition in ideas, words for ‘forgiveness’ in each stanza, highlighting how deeply embedded the concept is to religious belief. There must be a give and a take of understanding, pardon, and forgiveness in order for faith base to work. He goes on to change it up three more times, each a little different, from a new dimension, but about the same subject matter: belief.
Now, back to point of view and the poet being in his/her poem. On a surface level, yes they are there. They are the person making the poem happen. The words from their brains into their fingers and out for us to read. Often, the words that they produce are effected by either lives, experiences, vocabulary, what they ate for breakfast, the last song they heard…I can go on. Each poem, however, is not necessarily ‘about’ the poet. They are where the work is born. I wouldn’t say that ‘I am about my mother’ any more than my daughter would say she is about me.
The poet is in the poem, makes the poem, and with talent, strength and careful dedication, can produce something that goes out into the world and grows on its own. Subject matter will always be filters through that person, will carry a touch of that person (I have my mother’s chin and my daughter has my eyes) but that doesn’t mean that each poem is somehow secretly about some aspect of the poets life/personality/disorder.
Maybe the poem is just a poem, written by someone, who is looking at someone else, who is overserving a little girl, who is watching a puppy play. So, then who is the poem about? The poet, the watcher, the little girl, or the puppy? Depends on how it’s written. There will always be a sliver, a shard of the watcher, and it’s up to him/her to decide on which aspect to focus.
Sarah Ockershausen Delp
Jarman, Mark. “Five Pslams.” 2004. Poetry Foundation. Web. 23 Oct 2016. <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/54714>.
** Source: To the Green Man (Sarabande Books, 2004)