圖書館 by 楊小濱
Book lovers frequenting a library surely experience the ecstasy described in this poem. What, then, distinghishes good poems from bad ones? A witty and precise metaphor, I presume. For example, in this poem, the dominant metaphor is reading as a quest. The reader's exploration of knowledge is compared to a knight's rambling in woods. In fairy tales, a knight will always encounter a beautiful princess waiting to be saved by him, while in a libray, an earnest reader will submit to inspiring discourses just as a knight is stabbed by an inconquerable enemy. To further illustrate the features of a good poem, I'd like to share some of my favorite lines in the following.
“A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”by John Donne
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’other do.
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect as that comes home.
It's a typical 17th century Metaphysical poem, using surprising and witty metaphor---the moving of a compass, to liken the separation of a couple. When the husband leaves home for a remote country, he is like one leg of a compass roaming outside, while his wife, the other leg, sits in the center leaning toward the outer one. The separation will finally bring about the union of the two souls with their love remaining intact and perfect as before.
"I cannot live with You" by Emily Dickinson is an argument about the impossibility of living with her lover.
I cannot live with You –
It would be Life –
And Life is over there –
Behind the Shelf
The Sexton keeps the Key to –
Our Life – His porcelain -
Like a Cup –
Discarded of the Housewife –
Quaint – or Broke –
A newer Sevres pleases –
Old Ones crack –
The "Sexton," the church authority, puts away the cup discarded by the housewife, as if what is not good enough for marriage is good enough for the church. "Quaint," refers to Emily's reclusiveness, "half-cracked" to her fanciful mind. Emily cannot live with her lover because she feels trapped in both the domestic sphere and the church binds.
Both poems cited have a unique and witty image to highlight its theme--- the moving of compass=the separation of lovers/ the porcelain Cup behind the shelf=the trap of love in church duties.