Study in Sound

1  Dreary dawn desperate days

2  Detached, deflated, depressed of time and place,

3  When no meter or measure matters much

4  To the melancholy and monotony of space

5  Singled out and silenced full of succor and swell

6  But incapable, impossible, to pry forth or pronounce

7  Or plead or please.

8  Damn the dreary dawn

9  Unavoidable, unmistakeable, inexpressible

10 For its contempt and comingling conspirators

11 That blithely blanket the bulwark of conformity.

12 Dreary dawn them that dank no man but deliver none.

Reflection on “Study in Sound:” The Writing Process*

I remember wanting to be some place, anywhere else, when I wrote “Study in Sound,” so that would definitely explain the “dreary” (e.g., boring, uneventful) day that was dawning. I felt detached from life, by which I mean happiness and friends and familiarity—sort of hanging in limbo beyond time and space. Hence Line 2. Lines 3 and 4 further qualify, illustrate, that day. Thankfully though, those kinds of days are rare, so in a way they’re “singled out” from the normal routine of life, “silenced” as they were as specimens of the exception, not the rule. Hence Line 5. As for my word choices in Line 5, by the way—“succor” and “swell”—I always liked the word succor, so I stuck it in (forced alliteration, I admit!). And I think each day swells with either its opportunity or monotony. So that made sense to me.

It’s been recently suggested that I end the poem after Line 8. While I can appreciate that the second half (Lines 9-12) might sound repetitive, it’s actually a deeper reflection on the same theme. I’ve lived with depression since my early 20s, so day like this are, to me, “unavoidable” and “unmistakable,” as they are “inexpressible” to those who don’t know depression (Line 9). Line 10, then, delves a little deeper into the psyche. I think I was hinting at what a schizophrenic might believe, that other people were actively conspiring to make their lives miserable (those “commingling conspirators”)—which is indeed a “contempt”able idea. Line 11 was my extended vision of these little minions running all across the world (“blanket”-ing it), unnoticed by society (that massive “bulwark of conformity”). My vision, admittedly, was a bit inspired by “The Adjustment Bureau,” a film starring Matt Damon. It’s akin to what I was thinking at the time—that there’s an entire side to life that no one is supposed to see. Anyway, Line 12, I’ll admit, would have been better if I had substituted “dank” for a word that made sense grammatically and thematically. (Chalk up another one to poetic license!) Finally, “delivering none” means that days like the one I described don’t save us from ourselves.

So there you have it: my thoughts on why I wrote the poem and what it means.  Thanks for reading!

MBH, July 2012 (ed. 7/13)
*This piece was originally written in response to a friend’s feedback on the poem.

4 thoughts on “Study in Sound

  1. I mentioned this poem to a friend recently, which made me want to come back and read it again. I like it oh so very much. However, it’s about half organic and smooth, and half forced alliteration. I would simply drop lines 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Sometimes less is more.

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