Saturday, November 20, 2010
REFLECTIONS ON "DEGREE OF GRAY IN PHILLIPSBURG" BY RICHARD HUGO
DEGREE OF GRAY IN PHILLISPBURG by Richard Hugo is a poem that slaps you in the face repeatedly with striking images….Not just well written descriptions, highly visual, that make it easier for the mind to process….Here is an old man returning to a town he lived in some eyars before when he was young the economy of the town was powered by the boom in silver mining.
The town he returns to is dying….No more nightlife fed by the cash from the miners….The town mill, the sole employer, on the verge of collapse….All the pretty girls have left…. The principal supporting business now is rage.
The old man knows he’s not that far from death….He was 20 when the jail was built 50 years ago….However, he’s reminded by an internal voice that things are not that bad-he has a car that runs, he has enough money for lunch, and his food is brought by a pretty waitress.
That is the shade of gray….What is unique or special about this poems is how the sentences run into each other as if from an outpouring of uncontrollable thoughts from the brain like one’s life flashing before their eyes.
Richard Hugo was a “western” poet….That is he is caught up in classification based on where he was from (Washington and Montana)….One critic described his poetry as where the landscape of the mind meets the real physical landscape.
Here's the original poem.... http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=171835