Analysis of Tracy K. Smith´s Life on Mars

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Tracy K. Smith’s “Life on Mars” is a collection of poetry dealing mainly in the search for a sense of purpose and the nature of people. The books is something of an elegy as a whole with many poems pertaining to death and the author’s struggle with the loss of her father. The poems are at once poignant and gentle in tone and leave questions than can only be answered in multiple readings. The book is segmented in four parts that travel through different topics and types of poetry. The mood ranges from passionate accounts of Orwellian politics to soft recollections of a lovers embrace; throughout the book Smith brings in references to pop culture, science, and technology that incorporate seamlessly with her words. The first poem in the collection, before section one, is entitled, The Weather in Space (pg. 3). This is a short poem with seven lines and spaces between each line. Is God being or pure force? The wind Or what commands it? When our lives slow And we can hold all that we love, it sprawls In our laps like a gangly doll. When the storm Kicks up and nothing is ours, we go chasing After all we’re certain to lose, so alive Faces radiant with panic As the first poem in the book it sums up the primary focus of the works in its exploration of loss, grieving, and recovery. The questions posed about the nature of God become recurring themes in the following sections, especially One and Four. The symbolism includes the image of earthly possessions sprawled out like gangly dolls, a reference possibly meant to bring about a sense of nostalgia which this poem does quite well. The final lines cement the message that this is about loss and life, the idea that once something is lost, it can no longer belong to anyone anymore brings a sense... ... middle of paper ... ...ntion of memories sweeping past, making it seem that the grass is bent by the memories like it is from wind. The grass here is a metaphor for the people, this is clear in the last line, “then learns to again to stand.” No matter what happens it always gets back up. Tracy K. Smith’s collection of poems in Life on Mars is a spectacular work that explores deaths and its effect on family life and the way a person in mourning shift their view of the present and the past. In four sections the pieces are able to see the same concepts in ways that range from realistic and personal to a fantastical and withdrawn. All the pieces work together, asking questions that others answer and providing the reader with a sense of completion upon finishing. Especially in the darker poems Tracy K. Smith provides a clear voice that evokes amazing presence with a conservation of language.

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