The Happening Happens

After thinking about the different types of concessions, I came to realize things are a lot more complicated than originally thinking. And go figure, because that is the feeling I get when reading through Sophie Cabot Black’s “In Light of All”.

Black starts out with the words “In light of all that has happened,” which seems to a common phrased used by someone who has been through a lot of hard times and just trying to deal. It presents the thoughts of a terrible world to live in. Seriously, who would want to live in a world that one has to constantly suffer through? Through the rest of the poem Black plays off this idea until the very end, when she states ” While the light in which all that happened / Happened in so many ways that finally the light / Became what happened.” These final lines give the reader a sense of peace and tranquility. It is like the popular saying, “something good will always come from something bad.”

The complexity of this poem comes from the feeling of it being a single stream of thought. The speaker begins by stating a problem, mussing over it for a few stanzas, and then concluding with a positive out-look. One of the main reasons why I see this poem as a single stream of thought is because the word (or variations of) “happen” is used over ten times. When editing a poem one normally tried to avoid using the same word over and over again (or at least I know I do that), but the fact that Black uses this same word over and over is a very strong strategic approach. It gets the reader to focus on what is going on, and not the full bigger picture.  There are many lines in this poem that if removed would seem very plain and boring, but because they are placed in this ‘though’ (most with something “happening”) they add to this poem.

I feel it is important to point out how I am reading this poem (and to see if anyone agrees/disagrees). The first stanza presents the issue of something happening that one did not want to happen. The poem then moves to the possibility of this event happening, the importance of it happening, sharing what happened, and then reflection on it; seeing what happened as a bigger picture and not a single, small event. I feel like the writer is trying to persuade the reader to not fret about something that may go wrong (because this poem is so broad and doesn’t pinpoint an exact event).

{{on a side-note: I am sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. I am quite sick and am on a lot of medications. My head isn’t really in the right place right now}}

One Response to “The Happening Happens”

  1. karlakelsey Says:

    I think that this post makes quite good sense and I look forward to spending more time with the poem in light of your observations. I love the notion that complexity arises when the poet PUSHES the line of thought into a continual stream. This seems difficult to do…to create a continual stream that can accommodate the eddies and rushes of thought. Your insight into how repetition makes this happens is really useful.

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