Interpretive Strategies: Progression and the Poetic Turn Poems typically present the reader with one or more progressions from beginning to end. Look for changes in time, location, or increased understanding on the part of the narrative voice. Often a poem will present a turn somewhere after the halfway point that leads to this change or development in meaning. Readers aware of this convention and alert to the possibility of change are likely to recognize the extension of meanings developed by these changes. Read and mark the following poem several times. When you feel you have a good understanding of it, see if you can identify the turn. What in the language and/or the punctuation signals the turn in this poem? What are changes are presented between the first part of the poem and the second part? When you are comfortable with your observations, meet with a partner and compare your findings. Together, discuss the effect(s) of the progressions. How do they add to the meaning(s) of the poem? The Pardon Richard Wilbur My dog lay dead five days without a grave In the thick of summer, hid in a clump of pine And a jungle of grass and honeysuckle-vine. I who had loved him while he kept alive Went only close enough to where he was To sniff the heavy honeysuckle-smell Twined with another odor heavier still And hear the flies’ intolerable buzz. Well, I was ten and very much afraid. In my kind world the dead were out of range And I could not forgive the sad or strange In beast or man. My father took the spade And buried him. Last night I saw the grass Slowly divide (it was the same scene But now it glowed a fierce and mortal green) And saw the dog emerging. I confess I felt afraid again, but still he came In the carnal sun, clothed in a hymn of flies, And death was breeding in his lively eyes. I started in to cry and call his name, Asking forgiveness of his tongueless head. . . . I dreamt the past was never past redeeming: But whether this was false or honest dreaming I beg death’s pardon now. And mourn the dead. Read and mark the following poem several times. What progressions can you identify? What specific language presents those progressions? Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Adrienne Rich Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen, Bright topaz denizens of a world of green. They do not fear the men beneath the tree; They pace in sleek chivalric certainty. Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool Find even the ivory needle hard to pull. The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand. When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by. The tigers in the panel that she made Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.