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John Updike

Help us interpret this difficult poem
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    This is our poem that we thought was difficult to interpret, we have three diffrent theories that we came up with that we could possibly see it as an outcome.

 

Penumbrae

 

The shadows have their seasons, too.
The feathery web the budding maples
cast down upon the sullen lawn

bears but a faint relation to
high summer's umbrageous weight
and tunnellike continuum—

black leached from green, deep pools
wherein a globe of gnats revolves
as airy as an astrolabe.

The thinning shade of autumn is
an inherited Oriental,
red worn to pink, nap worn to thread.

Shadows on snow look blue. The skier,
exultant at the summit, sees his poles
elongate toward the valley: thus

each blade of grass projects another
opposite the sun, and in marshes
the mesh is infinite,

as the winged eclipse an eagle in flight
drags across the desert floor
is infinitesimal.

And shadows on water!—
the beech bough bent to the speckled lake
where silt motes flicker gold,

or the steel dock underslung
with a submarine that trembles,
its ladder stiffened by air.

And loveliest, because least looked-for,
gray on gray, the stripes
the pearl-white winter sun

hung low beneath the leafless wood
draws out from trunk to trunk across the road
like a stairway that does not rise.
 

Our Interpretations
   Shaun - Relating this poem to human quality it would say that each beginning of a season has the beauty in the beginning and towards the end of the season it is expressed in the shade....Pneumbrae mean shade of some kind. Each season is express in detail from the beginning to the end of what it is like for the shadow and what is like for the human creating the shadow.

Charlene- I thought this poem was more about how everything has an end.  Life has an ending clothing has an ending and seasons have endings.  Everything that is beautiful has an end no matter what.

Vong- I think this poem is talking about aging.  The poem describes colors that fade because it is most likely talking about how people or anything in general gets old.  For example, an orange can rot, and a tire can run out of tread.  This poem talks a lot about the detail of life.  I think Updike is just trying to show everyone how beautiful life can be when you really look at it.  I don't think I would have ever seen "each blade of grass" or the "pearl-white winter sun".