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Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Poem Analysis: Anne Carson's "Father’s Old Blue Cardigan" and "Tag"

Father’s Old Blue Cardigan

This is a poem of eight stanzas with three lines each. This is of free verse; there is no rhyming scheme.

Now it hangs on the back of the kitchen chair
where I always sit, as it did
on the back of the kitchen chair where he always sat.

This first stanza says where father’s old blue cardigan is.

I put it on whenever I come in,
as he did, stamping the snow from his boots.

The persona is stating here that he/she wears such cardigan everytime he/she comes
in, like what father did, stamping his boots to remove the snow.

I put it on and sit in the dark.
He would not have done this.
Coldness comes paring down from the moonbone in the sky.

The cardigan is worn while the persona sits in the dark, something that father would
not have done, even if it was cold. Alliteration for ‘coldness’ and ‘comes’.

His laws were a secret.
But I remember the moment at which I knew
he was going mad inside his laws.

Father’s laws were a secret, but the persona recalls knowing that he himself did not like his laws.

He was standing at the turn of the driveway when I arrived. He had on the blue cardigan with the buttons done up all the way to the top.
Not only because it was a hot July afternoon

Father is seen standing at the driveway when the persona arrived, wearing his cardigan, all buttoned-up.

but the look on his face—
as a small child who has been dressed by some aunt early in the morning
for a long trip

Father’s look on his face was like a small child’s look after he/she was dressed up by an aunt early morning in preparation for a long trip.

on cold trains and windy platforms
will sit very straight at the edge of his seat
while the shadows like long fingers

The compared child in the previous stanza is described here sitting very straight at his seat’s edge on a cold and windy day. Simile is used in the last line above, comparing the shadows to long fingers.

over the haystacks that sweep past
keep shocking him
because he is riding backwards

This last stanza talks about the shadow in the previous stanza, that stretches long over the haystacks which were passed by the train where the child is riding in, and the shadows shock him because he is seated backwards in that train.


The title can refer to a tag that has the price of a piece of clothing, or a game of “it.” This poem has 30 lines and is a free verse one. There are two parts, divided by the heading of the first one, “THIS” and the second one, “YOUR” in all capital letters. The lines are seemingly simple, but each line bears a deep meaning.
Insatiable April, trees in place, 
in their scraped-out place,
their standing.
Standing way.
Their red branch areas,
green shoot areas (shock),
The above lines describe blue trees with red branches standing this month of April. The words ‘place’, ‘standing’, and ‘areas’ are repeated to give emphasis on such.
river, that one.
I surprised a goose and she hissed.
 The trees are near a river, and the persona saw a goose, startled it, and it hissed. Alliteration is used here, “surprised’ and ‘she’.
I walk and walk with cold hands.
Back at the house it is filled with longing,
nothing to carry longing away.
The word ‘walk’ is repeated twice in the same line, stressing that the persona walks long, with cold hands. Alliteration is used here, for “walk’ and ‘with.’
I look back over my life.
I try to find analogies.
There are none.
The persona here is reminiscing over his/her life in the past, looking for explanations and meaning, but saw none.
I have longed for people before, I have loved people before.
Not like this.
It was not this.
Give me a world, you have taken the world I was.
She/he wanted and had loved people in the past, but it was not something like this love at present.  Alliteration for ‘longed’ and ‘loved’.
Actually not. Feigned leap into—
river glimpsed through bare
[some noun] for how thought breaks up around you not here
your clothes not wet in this deep mirror
The persona is referring to the reader that he/she pretended to jump into the river, but was found out pretending because the clothes did not get wet.
what Hölderlin calls die Tageszeichen, signs
scored into the soul by the god of each day
your answer scars, I still don’t know—
years from now, these notations in the address book, this frantic hand.
A German word, Tageszeichen is included in this poem, and it is said to be put in the soul of a person, by the gods . Alliteration for ‘ scored’ and ‘soul’.        --ARV

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