Pale Fire Stanza Assignment

Pale Fire Stanza and Commentary

And so transcended this earth, my tender mockingbird
Who with her absence the preterists stirred
My morose, and dingy cygnet a wood duck would never be
And the grey, bent watchman the gentle charwoman could not free

First line: The narrator refers to birds quite a bit in the poem, both literally and through the characterization of his parents as ornithologists/’preterists’, specifically ‘tender mockingbird’ (line 422, pg. 48)

Second line: After discussing his parents jobs and interests, the narrator defines the term ‘preterists’ as ‘one who collects cold nests’, so I chose to include the mention of the ‘preterists stirring’ to refer to how those who collect ‘cold nests’ now have the chance to collect the narrator’s daughter’s empty, and cold absence, which in a way resembles a nest since she was often characterized in a bird-like way (line 79, pg. 35)

Third line: The narrator compared his daughter’s beauty to the ugly duckling, saying she would never be pretty; specifically calls her a “dingy cygnet” (line 318, pg. 44)

Fourth line: There is a consistent theme of time and space in the poem, and the narrator refers to both Father Time and Mother Time a couple of times. Father Time was described as the watchman who couldn’t save the narrator’s daughter before she drowned herself. Further, the narrator’s daughter once played Mother Time in a play, but as a “charwoman”—like a janitor—who was old, “bent”, and purposefully ugly (line 312, pg. 44 “charwoman” and line 475, pg. 50, “watchman”)

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