Addressing the Concessional Structure in “Mare Incognito”

The poem I looked at to work with was “Mare Incognito” by Larissa Szporluk. I was really drawn to this as a concessional poem because the lines were so concise and vivid, and Szporluk doesn’t really dance around what she wants to say. The narrator of the poem, obviously at the beginning of the poem, is trying to cope with the loss of her son. So that is the complexity that we see emerge, this emotion of trying to deal with loss and just being infinitely lost in disbelief. She makes it truly feel like the world is mourning with her from the way her son is lost to a “brighter world” and how the “trees turn blue from drag;/leaves, like minnows, in reverse.” I can really feel this strong sense of loss and longing for this person back without accepting that they’re gone. It seems as though this event just occurred and the narrator herself, is actually musing over this idea along with the readers.

The concession comes when Szporluk writes, “In human terms, in human terms,” finally giving in to the idea that in human terms, her son no longer exists. This was a powerful moment because I could really feel the thought process of coming to this realization with the repetition of the phrase twice. I think part of the reason that this line was so powerful is that, even if you are unaware of the concessional structure you can really see the author coming to terms with what happened and the poem really turn. The concessional structure becomes necessary though because there is this sort of forfeit to whatever resistance is employs at first to the death of the narrator’s son. And then the poem shifts to this nice feeling that, “he is totally filled with God.” So, even though she cannot think of her son in human terms anymore, she can think of him filled with God, and accept his absence in going to a “better place.”

On another note, after really discussing the concessional structure, I’m finding it a really hard structure to both work with and identify when it comes to finding where the poem concedes. I found “Mare Incognito” most relatable and easier to understand in comparison to the others. I really enjoyed it where as some of the other poems were less enjoyable because I had a hard time placing their parts in proper terms.  


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