Friday, May 2, 2008

Close Reading of "Dancing With God" by Stephen Dunn

Im doing the close reading of lines 49-54:

nice man
with whom I'd slept
and grown tired,
who danced wrong,
who never again
could do anything right.

In the poem the speaker and a man are at a dance, when a stranger asks to dance with the speaker, and the stranger is then compared to God. These lines are the aftermath of that dance. Because the dance was so blissful for the speaker, nothing can compare, especially going back to the dull norms of the previous life.

In these lines, the first technical aspect i notice is the line breaks. These lines are separate, short, and precise, paralleling the way in which people think about things. Through Dunn's short lines, the speaker's thought process is conveyed. The speaker says the man is nice, that they have slept together, but grown tired and the nature of these lines seem as if thoughts were thrown on a page as they occurred to the speaker. Therefore, the statement made that the man attending the dance with the speaker could never do anything right again is a presumption. The dance with God changed the speakers life so much, that at that moment afterwards, it was known no other man, especially the one currently with, could never measure up to the perfection of that one dance.
Also, the meter of these last lines is very strange. The lines are stagnant and hard to read for there is no rhythm to them. A very important word is the trochee "never" for not only is it a very strong word in denotation, but the sound is sharp. It is placed in the second to last line and stands on a line alone to make the point of never that much more significant.

Further, there is not a clear meter until the last line which states "could do anything right." This line is in iambic pentameter. It is almost as if the speaker's thoughts beforehand were not concrete until the realization in the last line. The combination of lines 53 and 54 create a powerful statement in its denotation which is made more powerful through the technical aspects Dunn in cooperates.

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