22 pages • 44 minutes readMartha Collins
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“Again Later” is a free verse poem, meaning it doesn’t follow a fixed rhyme scheme or a fixed metrical pattern. Just because the poem is free verse, however, does not mean that it is formless. To the contrary, there are two important formal features that organize “Again Later.” First, the lines are all very short. This radical concision suggests that the poet’s desire to speak and perhaps even her breath have been cut short by her grief. Second, Collins includes a line of white space between each of the poem’s lines. Thus, the poem is as much absence as presence. This fits in with the poem’s occasion (the death of Collins’s husband). It also suggests that despite writing the poem, the speaker has not found a replacement or substitute for her loss. The loss and the absence it left in her life are there in the form of the poem.
“Again Later” is not a traditional sonnet, but the poem is having a conversation with the sonnet form. “The sonnet,” as Paul Fussell explains, “is a fourteen-line poem [typically written] in iambic pentameter: the