In class on April 7th, poetic terms such as enjambed line, end-stopped line, caesura and scansion were discussed as well as was the sonnet style of poetry. It was asserted during this same discussion that sonnets were usually about unrequited love. We took this assertion and used it in our analysis of Natasha Tretheway’s eighth section in her Native Guard sequence: June 1863.
This poem struck me as relating to the “eagerness” on line 10 of the poem to an unrequited love of recognition and of doing something that matters. In the first two full sentences of the poem it is stated, “Some names will deck the page of history as it is written on stone. Some will not.” The reference to stone can only be assumed a grave. With this interpretation, it is necessary to note that in 1863, segregation and racial inequalities were prevalent- even after death, so the “deck[ing] of history” refers to how people are mourned and remembered differently. History tends to remember the ultimate source of authority and negate even the slightest existence of anyone stemming from lesser power. Regardless, people continue to involve themselves in issues with the hope of remembrance. In the final sentence, “Death makes equals of us all: a fair master” the ridiculous notion of a difference in types of memory is combatted by Tretheway’s assertion that, in the end, we are all remembered, regardless of the way, and we are all dead.
I believe that Tretheway, while recognizing the disparities in the way we, as a society, remember individuals, is trying to show how our unrequited love for warfare and our insane importance on being remembered shield us from the fact that the ways we go about achieving these concepts, often times, lessens the importance of our actions. I am reminded of civil rights leaders and war heroes in this assertion and the increased benefit they could have brought to society if not dead. Our society is so focused on recognition through any and all measures (including death) that we misinterpret the benefits associated with life.
Does anyone else agree? How is unrequited love referenced in a selection about death?