16 pages • 32 minutes readPeter Meinke
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The poem’s elaborate symbolism is discussed in the “Symbols and Motifs” section. Not only are the symbols emotionally resonant, they are also often introduced in the poem in new and surprising ways, such as the jarring, violent image of the shattered windshield and exploding bullet breaking the casual, funny tone of the poem’s opening lines. Further, the poem juxtaposes images of whimsical and the mundane—the man in a desert versus a man going to work—creating a surrealistic effect. The juxtaposition is precisely used to underscore the idea that the real itself is surreal. Ideas of calculating how a young wife may appear in her later years jostle with the religious and metaphysical imagery of serving bread and wine, creating a chiaroscuro (the treatment of both shade and light) effect.
One of the most striking aspects of “Advice to My Son” is its play on traditional verse and meter. A poem’s aural quality is especially important for Meinke, who speaks aloud his work during the process of composing it. As a contemporary master of traditional form, Meinke often uses a combination of internal and end