The Introduction to Poetry talks about who is the voice of the poem. Sometimes it’s a child, sometimes it’s a pebble or a cat or a cloud. Often it is an omniscient narrator describing a scene (as in the Robert Frost poem “Out, Out -“), but in many cases it is the poet him or herself (as in Emily Dickinson’s poem “I Like To See It Lap The Miles”). Usually the reader doesn’t need to know anything about the poet’s life in order to understand the context of the poem – if the poem is classic enough, but in this case a little bit is needed to be known.
Sir, Say No More
by Trumbull Stickney
Sir, say no more,
Within me ’tis as if
The green and climbing eyesight of a cat
Crawled near my mind’s poor birds.
Something is within him, but what we cannot guess, but it is something eating at his mind. It could be a neurosis or anger or obsession, it could be a psychotic condition, something feeding off of him. It is a disease and a terrible one, brain cancer, but the wording makes it seem more intimate and more terrible. The text book mentions that it is a good poem not simply because tells the truth from experience, but does so in memorable words.