Dante and Virgil beset by demons, passing through Hell, illustration by Gustave Doré for an 1861 edition of Dante's Inferno (The Divine Comedy)
Today’s offering was written in 1950 by Charles Olson. The title, “In Cold Hell, In Thicket” was borrowed from Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”.
From what I understand, the appearance of the poem on ‘paper’ has different spacing (indented margins, left justified, and so on). This delivers so much more drama to the poem and conveys the deep and inward thought process that is happening with the author to the reader. Olson explains his use of “breath” in an essay: “Projective Verse.” My original experience with the poem was the audio and I have never held it in my hands. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a version with this layout to copy for your viewing pleasure. I always suggest supporting all things tangible and encourage you to purchase a copy at this link.
Since I have limited understanding of poetry - other than I love it and know what I like - I hesitate to analyze. Since I'm here, I'll give my two-cents: In general, the poem navigates a landscape that is before him as inner turmoil. The author is confronting this and cannot relate or fully comprehend his experience. He goes on to renounce despair and attempts to bring order to that inner-self. An un-authored review I read states, “The poem is about confronting pains of experience without ending in pity and remorse. The poem ends with the speaker reentering the world as an imaginative participant, no longer the grieving outsider.”
This poem is unbelievably relatable to me. It aligns with the way I think - the way I experience and process things. I walk quite a bit to think and this has the rhythm of walking and breathing and singing and connecting to the world you are in, the heavens above, the unknown, the Creator. It is an active participation in making an attempt to understand. I’ve said too much. This is a long poem and speaks for itself: