Thursday, September 18, 2014

Another MOOC ModPo Bonus Feature: "Foreclosure" by Lorine Niedecker

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present yet another MOOC ModPo bonus feature, "Foreclosure" by Lorine Niedecker (1903 - 1970).  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/247082.  A brief biography and references may be found here:  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/lorine-niedecker.

"Foreclosure" contains eight short lines of free verse arranged in three stanzas--a quatrain followed by two couplets.  The first two lines establish the bleakness of the home that is about to be foreclosed.  The walls are bare.  The abutments are not fancy--they are made of cement.  The third and fourth lines are a bitter jab at the lawyers and bankers involved in a foreclosure.  The obvious pun on clause/claws is referenced in the next stanza with the word "scratch" and is symbolic of the pain that is being caused.

The second stanza starts with "Leave me the land," a plea to allow the occupant of the house at least to keep the lot or perhaps the flowers and gardens that grow on it.  However, the meaning is changed with the line that follows, "Scratch out:  the land."  If "the land" is "scratch[ed] out" of the previous line, we are left simply with, "Leave me," another way of saying, "Get lost!"

The poem ends with a wish that "prose," here a metaphor for cold, dry legal writing, and "property," here perhaps a symbol for the injustices inherent in the capitalist system, would "die out" and leave the poet "in peace."  The alliteration between "prose" and "property" and "peace" is used for emphasis--to make the wish emphatic. 

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