I seriously can't find anything worthwhile on the internet, not even the poem. So I guess I will have to type out the poem:
Forms of Innocence
The girl can tell you exactly
where and when her innocence
how it soared from the window
beating its wings
high avove the stubble field.
A stange shape for innocence
when you think of Leda
but this girl insists
it was a swan, black
not white as you might expect.
From its head no bigger than her fist
a beak blossomed red as if wings
pumped blood up the long neck
to where the bird split the sky.
She watched this through the windshield,
lying on her back, the boy's breath
breaking above her in waves, the swan's
dark flight across the snow so beautifiul
she groaned and the boy groaned with her,
not understanding the sound she made.
When she tells this story now, she says
though it was winter, she knows the swan
made it all the way to Stanley Park,
a place she's never been, just seen
in the room wehre no one
ever touched anything
in the book her mother keeps
open on the coffee table,
one black swan swimming
endless cricles among the white.
Good poem eh? It's all about sex. A Canadian poem. So I think the poet is describing the girl having sex with some guy in Saskatchewan, Canada (the praries), which is really far from Stanley Park, on the west coast (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).
What is the cheif symbol in the poem? What does the symbol suggest beyond its literal meaning?
I can't decide whether the black swan,the chief symbol, represents a penis or rather, the liberated feeling in losing one's innocence. Or maybe the symbol represents the female orgasm?
the black swan symolizes innocence. (not losing one's innocence, there you take it one step too far).
I don't really get what your teacher means with "what does the symbol suggest beyond it's literal meaning".
It's literal meaning is: a black swan. Maybe that it can fly, that it is beautiful, that it is rare (have you ever seen a black swan?)?
Well, I did find one site on Crozier and her other poems and the author kept saying that Crozier's symbols were referring to a penis. So I don't know if Crozier was referring to penis for this poem or another ("The Swan Girl"?).
Link: [www.collectionscanada.ca] />
As additional background, this "Forms of Innocence" poem is alluding to another poem "Leda and the Swan", in which Zeus rapes a woman by disguising himself as a swan.
But Crozier made a new poem in which the female enjoys the experience or controls the man in some way. So it's a play on the old poem. I think this poem is about how the female is liberated in her sexuality. Hence the last line of the poem, where the black swan does circles around the white.
It is logical that you would suggest that the black swan represents innocence. However,"black" usu. means evil or darkness. So how can a black swan mean innocence? Could the black swan represent the gaining of knowledge and not being innocent anymore?
Maybe the "black" means that a female being liberated sexually or enjoying the experience was traditionally considered bad.
But then the black swan could also mean penis. Because of"pumped blood up its long neck", and "head no bigger than a fist."
So what do you think now?
Do they have black swans in Canada? I thought they were peculiar to Australia.
There’s a nice black swan metaphor in the best known of the poems by the Australian hoax poet ‘Ern Malley’ (fictional creation of poets James McAuley and Harold Stewart in 1943):
Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495
I had often, cowled in the slumbrous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires
And painted roofs, the high snows glimpsed at the back,
All reversed in the quiet reflecting waters —
Not knowing then that Dürer perceived it too.
Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men’s dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
the black swan of trespass on alien waters.
"It is logical that you would suggest that the black swan represents innocence."
It's not me suggesting, it's the text literally saying so:
"where and when her innocence
"A stange shape for innocence
but this girl insists
it was a swan"
" it was a swan, black
not white as you might expect. "
Here she answers your question herself in the poem. You'd expect innocence to be white, but here it is, all black.
And can you point out which lines in the poem suggest she actually enjoys the experience, and where does it say she is in control?
The first thing to do when analysing a poem, is to stay as close to the text as possible. When you've got that sorted out, you can go deeper.
another question. Does the forms of innocence allude to more than one poem? Or should you find the answer to formS in this single poem?
I clicked that pdf file without realizing it was gonna be another one of those 150-page nightmares to load, but I finally managed to click the 'close' button on the new tab and escaped at some length, admittedly without reading the text. Probably no matter, since the question wouldn't be posed here if the answer were there.
Yes, one normally thinks of rape when recalling Zeus's disguise in attacking Leda. One also thinks of the dying swan's song:
Note that a black swan does also have the reference of a rare bird.
Coleridge's witticism is noteworthy:
Swans sing before they die; ’twere no bad thing
Did certain persons die before they sing.
Here, the lady seems more to merely be losing her virginity instead of being ravished, despite the misinterpreted groan. So, the swan must be her hymen/virginity/innocence. Why it would be black is another question. Not that I have ever encountered a hymen personally, you understand, since they were all long lost before I got to those goodies, but I would think the color pink might be more apropos than black.
I can't go with the penis suggestion, since most men are not endowed with an instrument the size of a fist, and whatever it was flew out the window, not remaining attached to the owner. Nah, it's gotta just be her regret that is black, the dark memory of losing her innocence in such a fashion.
Forms of innocence I took to be a pun, the form of the black swan itself versus types of innocence (which include the hymen).
Thanks so much everyone. I was getting confused by that link I posted and the actual poem.
Now that I know the black swan represents her innocence, is it that the protagonist regrets the experience or is she happy about it?
Hugh says it's regret. But I'm not so sure. Because the protagonist says the swan's path was beautiful. Besides, the swan made it to Stanley Park which is way nicer than ugly Saskatchewan (where the poet is from).
(I've never seen a black swan in Canada or any other country I've travelled in.)
Now that it's been established that black swans are rare, why would the fact that the protagonist lost her virginity be rare? Seems like a common experience to me.
The black swan is innocence, a black swan is rare, so innocence is rare! (not losing one's innocence)
I don't think you can tell from the poem whether she is happy with the experience, enjoying it or not. She stays extremely neutral about it.
To me, unconciously that points towards rape, as traumatic experiences tend to make people very detached from there emotions. But I admit, this is a huge jump and not supported by anything at all. on the contrary, would she talk about it as a story? "When she tells this story now,"
Also, when I lost my virginity, I did not feel like I was losing my innocence. That is another reason I wouldn't simply read it as losing ones virginity I suppose.
. . . seems to me that the image might be a reflection the girl sees in the windshield, thus the distortion and the color, if say the incident occured late in the day, dusk or so . . .
the penis could appear reddish black and splitting the hymen (the sky)---
the stubble field---a young pubic area---
seems as though the narrator is the girl, and wishes that her mother would open her eyes to reality rather than staying tuned into her perfectly untouched living room with its perfect coffee table book . . .
just my impression.
By jove, I think you've got it Lisa. You're good.
Well, the one thing I got was the stubble field. I figured that was the pubic area.
So continuing with your explanation, then "the swan's
dark flight across the snow so beautifiul", is the snow sperm? Then the wings would be the folds on the penis head.
Aside from all that, then the black swan is in fact a penis right?
I'm somewhat confused again. Why would the penis go to Stanley Park? Maybe Stanley Park represents her female bounty. I think Stanley Park meant that she had an orgasm.
So then with my original question, what does the symbol suggest beyond its literal meaning? That a penis is like a black swan and somehow innocent? And somehow rare?
Come on already . . . is this supposed to be a joke ?
If this is a homework assignment then that means you need to arrive at some of your own conclusions. There isn't always a wrong or right answer as in mathematics.
The key to the poem isn't necessarily in its symbolism.
For this reader, and my money's worth,
the key is in the last stanza . . . it's a really dark sex poem, disguised.
The poet is making a statement more so about how she was raised and about ther mother's relationship to her, and non-relationship to sex.
It's a kind of Sharon Olds-ish style poem written in code,
something I don't really like . . .
BAM---I hate those slammed doors---right in my face.
For what it's worth . . . read deeper into the poem's unconscious.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2007 05:44PM by MoonBabe.