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Analysis of Fable by Nina Cassian
Whereas the extent of my poetic appreciation lies in a decided distaste for Dante and a zest for limericks concerning Nantucket - it behooves me to discuss a poem that my limited capacities can grasp. Fable by Nina Cassian is just such a poem. I view this piece as Ms. Cassian's perspective on life (a "sentence" or an obligation), death, and sadly, the fact that most people do not appreciate the beautific nature of existence.
I understand the first stanza as a depiction of man's earthly plane as a sort of testing ground for "angels" - a place where beings are concerned with the development of spirit, "to master imbalance."
The second and third stanzas I interpret as the transformation of the ethereal spirit to a corporeal state. The "angel plummeted" and thus left spiritual beauty in a quest for purity.
The angel,s descent is clearly painful: "...feathers carbonized, his sole wing impotent, dangling." Though the cost of corporeal existence is dear, I believe Ms. Cassian sees this as an obligation which must be met, a "sentence."
The final sentence is the saddest. The nature of this newly formed being is mundanely categorized. The "people" fail to see its purpose and its intrinsic beauty; by extension, they have lost their own missions, their own true value. They have forgotten God.
The second poem was written by an astonishingly brillant N.Y.U. student hoping to receive an "A" in an introductory literature course taught by a fascinating (and underpaid) professsor.
12/2/97 is the date that this author spent approximately six minutes dead.
He had minored in theology and had developed a healthy scepticism concerning all religions. The author had laughed at so called "near-death experiences -" believing them either fantasy or resultant of a chemical secretion of the frontal lobe in times of catastrophic distress.
This erstwhile pillager of the business world, this glorified "strett hustler" discovered upon his demise that as the "people" of Fable he had lost his way, his appreciation, his God.
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12/2/97 is a somewhat pedestrian attempt to broadly express this experience and explain his longing for completion of this "experiment." When the "obligation" is paid and the "sentence" is fulfilled I want to go home.
A clear brightness.
Beautiful, warm, serene.
Pure, so pure.
Outside of me.
It's not time.
It's not time...
1. Cassian, Nina. Life Sentence. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1990.