11. Bridging Aural Challenges
We liked the term W.B. Yeats used in his introduction to his presentation of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” There he mentions “obscurities,” those things readers may not be familiar with that would ease their following the poem.
Thom Gunn’s poem, “Tamer and Hawk,” is a great one to preface for an audience by announcing its obscurities, as it relies not only on falconry vocabulary, but one of those terms featured in the poem’s second stanza, “seeled,” is a homonym. Not knowing the falconry definition, "to sew up the eyelids of hawks and falcons," invites the audience more intimately into the relationship at the heart of this poem.
We talked our first meeting about the additional attention an extended metaphor demands from an audience. “Tamer and Hawk” is an extended metaphor for love in 68 concise syllables. It’s also a persona poem from the point of view of the hawk or the lover of the pair who identifies as the hawk. Another term for a persona poem is a dramatic monologue. The best way I know to enter into a dramatic monologue is to draw on acting skills and take an imaginative leap.
On my first try, Matt followed the poem’s complex logic at the literal level of falconry. His feedback encouraged me to leap even further the next try into the poem’s rarified emotional atmosphere by focusing on the feelings informing the bonds of love's extended metaphor.