Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apropos of nothing . . . XYZ Riddle solved!

A few years ago, I came across a short little poem that has stuck in my head and bedeviled me ever since.  Here it is again:

The cross the fork the zigzag—a few straight lines
For pain, quandary and evasion, the last of signs.
—Robert Pinsky

I wrote about it on this blog on April 24, 2009.  Click here for the post.

And here is the comment I wrote:

O.K., I get that X is the cross (pain), Y is the fork (quandary) and Z is the zigzag (evasion). What does the author mean by "the last of signs?" Such short lines and they are giving me a headache!

Ever since, when I least expect it, the poem worms itself into my consciousness and I revisit it over and over, until, with a Gallic shrug (I pretend I'm French) I once again set it aside.  Yes, I know that X, Y and Z are the last three letters of the alphabet, but what is the metaphor? 

Then today, the skies opened up, the sun came out and I'm pretty sure I heard angels sing!  I found this analysis by Erin Yorke online.  And here are the two beautiful sentences that jumped out at me from that essay:

“At the end of the alphabet, they are closing the end of communication, of signals, of individual lives and life itself, ‘the last of signs’.  It is almost as if the speaker has one, last brief image to leave with loved ones and strangers on the planet.”

It's so simple - now that it's been explained to me! 

Release, Maria . . . you can let this one go now . . .  Life is good.


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Southhamsdarling said...

How wonderful that the mystery of that poem was solved for you! Talking of mystery, thank you so much for popping across and leaving a comment on my Hercule Poirot post. I had never read the book, Curtain, and the ending was a real surprise to all of us over here! I'm going to really miss the little man!