MARRYSONG. By Dennis Scott. BACKGROUND. Born: Kingston, Jamaica. December 16th, 1939 Died: February 21 1991 , aged 51 Education: University of the West Indies Teaching: In the Caribbean and in America at Yale School of Drama
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MARRYSONG By Dennis Scott
BACKGROUND Born:Kingston, Jamaica. December 16th, 1939 Died:February 21 1991, aged 51 Education:University of the West Indies Teaching: In the Caribbean and in America at Yale School of Drama Acting: He played a role in ‘The Cosby Show’, and also was a member of the ‘National Dance Theatre Company’
MARRYSONG He never learned her, quite. Year after yearThat territory, without seasons, shiftedunder his eye. An hour he could be lostin the walled anger of her quarried hurton turning, see cool water laughing wherethe day before there were stones in her voice.He charted. She made wilderness again.Roads disappeared. The map was never true.Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea -and suddenly she would change the shape of shoresfaultlessly calm. All, all was each day new:the shadows of her love shortened or grewlike trees seen from an unexpected hill,new country at each jaunty helpless journey.So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to findhis way among the landscapes of her mind.
ANALYSIS He never learned her, quite. Year after yearThat territory, without seasons, shifted These first two lines give us a general introduction to the poem and its main ideas. We are shown how Scott’s wife was very changeable and how regardless of his attempts to understand the reasons for her actions he is unable to do so. • “He never learned her, quite. Year after year.”- this line implies to the reader that although a lot of time has passed (Year after year), Scott was unable to understand his wife fully. This line introduces the reader to the main idea of the poem which is the poet’s attempt to understand his wife. • “That territory”-this is the first use of the metaphor (comparing his wife to geographical places). • “Without seasons, shifted”- The link to seasons imply a sense of regularity as there are four distinct seasons in a year. However by saying that his wife shifted without these seasons shows that she changed constantly and randomly.
ANALYSIS under his eye. An hour he could be lostin the walled anger of her quarried hurton turning, see cool water laughing wherethe day before there were stones in her voice. These lines show how he was angered and annoyed because of the “hurt”/damage she had on him. But also how changeable she was. • “walled anger” and “cool water laughing”- walled implies a sense of confinement and restriction, when in contrast, water is free-flowing and is not restricted. There is also the contrast between anger and laughing, and when connected by the words “on turning” shows how changeable Scott’s wife was. • “On turning” and “the day before”: the action of turning around somewhat fast and instantaneous, and by the use of these words, the rapidness of his wife changing from mood to mood is emphasised. The day before also emphasizes the wife’s changeability as one day she is happy, and another, irritated. • The connection between quarried and stones: quarried means to cut, dig, or blast out stones from a quarry. This is related to the “stones in her voice”. As stones are represent hardness, pain, raggedness and even discomfort (e.g. kidney stones), by use of this symbol, the hardships that Dennis Scott had felt because of his wife is effectively shown.
ANALYSIS He charted. She made wilderness again.Roads disappeared. The map was never true. By the use of short sentences in these lines, Dennis Scott once again emphasises his attempts to try and understand his wife, but also the hopelessness and uselessness of these attempts. • “charted”, “wilderness again”, “roads disappeared”, “map was never true”: shows how he planned and thought he understood his wife but how she changed and made all his plans/ideas useless and how he once again was bewildered and confused. • This sense of uncertainty is further emphasized by saying that the “roads disappeared”. Roads and maps are associated with a sense of direction, a guide which helps you reach a destination, progression, and regularity, but when he says that these roads have disappeared, and that “the map was never true” he emphasizes how uncertain and confused he was, but also how unpredictable his wife was.
ANALYSIS Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea -and suddenly she would change the shape of shoresfaultlessly calm. All, all was each day new: The wind and the sea are both metaphors for his wife, and we see how they constantly change just as she does. • “Tasting of sea”: seawater has a bitter, salty, and an unpleasant taste. This unpleasant taste is a metaphor for the pain and anger Dennis’ wife gives to him. • “suddenly…change…faultlessly calm”: this emphasizes how quickly his wife would change from being unpleasant and irritating, to perfectly normal and serene. • “All, all was each day new”: this links to the 5th and 6th lines. “laughing when the day before there were stones in her voice” and also to some extent the 1st and second lines “Year after Year… shifted under his eyes” and once again emphasises his wife’s unpredictability.
ANALYSIS the shadows of her love shortened or grewlike trees seen from an unexpected hill,new country at each jaunty helpless journey. Again these lines show us how the wife in constantly changing, and how Scott I still failing to understand her. • “shadows of her love shortened and grew”: his wife tend to change is one of the most evident motifs in this poem, and this time it shows how her love for him also changes. The image of a shadow growing and shrinking once again can be a rapid process that can happen over and over again, emphasizes the changeability of his wife. • “jaunty helpless journey”: this oxymoron is effective in showing how useless his attempts were. When you are jaunty, you are joyful, carefree, and confident, but when contrasted with helpless, it strongly emphasizes his useless attempts.
ANALYSIS So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to findhis way among the landscapes of her mind. These last three lines have a sense of calmness and contentment. It also implies that he was decided to give up trying to understand all of his wife’s ways, and just accept her as she is. • “accepted”- implies a sense of defeat, but also of understanding. He learns that rather than to understand the reasons for her actions, he can only accept her as she is as, there is no way to know all the reasons for her actions as she is so unpredictable. • “wondered, Stayed home”- so far, the poem has been set in nature, and outside one’s house. E.g. with references to the sea. But here the poet describes himself being inside, in his house, calmly thinking about his wife. The symbol of the home also has associations with a sense of calmness, tranquility and familiarity. • ”find his way among the landscapes of her mind”- the word, “find” is contrasted to the other words used in the poem such as “map”, “chart” as these words show how he is trying to control and understand his wife while the word “find” shows how he accepts the ways of his wife, and tries not to control her, but find ways in which he can change himself to cope and act according to how his wife changes.
THEMES • Change • Wife constantly changing • The poets view of his wife changing from frustrated and confused by his wife to accepting • Love and marriage • A lot of happiness “jaunty helpless journey” • A lot of sorrow “walled anger of her quarried hurt” • Time • The shifting nature of his wife, which changes nearly instantly “seasons” etc… • The over time the author accepts his wife’s strange mood swings • Journey through wilderness, finally reaching destination
LINKS TO OTHER POEMS Relationships:The Voice, Dover Beach, Amends, Full Moon and Little Frieda, First Love, So, We’ll Go No More A-Roving, Sonnet 43, Sonnet 29 Marriage: The Voice, Dover Beach, Sonnet 43 Time:Time, Dover Beach, On the Grasshopper and the Cricket, So, We’ll Go No More A-Roving, Sonnet 29