The poem ‘A Music’ by Wend…

11 November 2018

The poem ‘A Music’ by Wendell Berry follows the speaker with a vivid portrayal of an extraordinary experience he or she had while travelling on the Metro.

The author manages to create several vivid images and connotations in order to get his message through to the readers. I will be discussing certain techniques the author has used in order to create a calm isolation with a touch of beauty to illustrate the significance of that experience to others. The is broken down to 6 stanzas each addressing different distinct points yet all linking back to the main idea.The first stanza begins with the speaker describing his encounter with the blind mandolin player. The quote ‘I employ the blind’ indicates that prior to him facing the man, the speaker felt somewhat superior to the mandolin player as he states he was the ’employer’. This is the typical mindset of most travellers who utilise the métro, who listen to people playing music for them, as though they are superior in some way to musicians in these setting because they are being served by the music.

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Though this perspective of the speaker changes as it developments through the poem.

Speaker says ‘I paid him a coin as hard as his notes,’ the use of simile portrays the tone, the highness of the pitch of the music he was playing, thus provokes the auditory sense of the reader. ‘he has employed me, and pays me with his playing to hear him play.’ As the speaker feels enchanted by the music, he realises that the musician maybe the one who hired him. The alliteration used to build up rhythm and describes how the speaker was lured into listening to the blind mandolins music, also suggests that it connected with the speaker on a personal level.The second stanza the speaker establishes the dependence we have as human on one another. He believes that humans fill the isolation in each other’s lives, ‘we’re necessary to each other’ this conveys that the speaker needed the musician for filling his solitude and the musician needed the speaker for his financial needs. ‘this vacant place has need of us both’ the speaker could possibly be making a reference to the métro that it is empty in the sense that one is not mentally present there only physically.

The author transforms this situation even when so regular and made it look distinct. The speaker proves this point by saying ‘it’s vacant, I mean, of dwellers, is populated by passages and absences.’ Probably suggesting that no one is living in the moment, or even valuing the beauty around them, they are all busy thinking of their own lives. This is contrary to the speaker and the mandolin player as they are both mentally and physically present there together somewhat connected are they are listing to each other and valuing the one beauty of the thing around.The third stanza the speaker portrays the métro as a ‘cavity’ to indicate that musicians would never be appreciated in a place like this, thus saying ‘by some fate or knack’ meaning the musician chose to play music in the metro. ‘Nothing was her before he came.’ this suggests that the speaker regularly travelled through the same rote and is appreciative of the music and a little upset that the people around him were unaffected by the talent the musician possessed.

This line probably also suggests that the blindness of the musician make no difference as there nothing for him to look at. ‘there’s nothing to look at and blindness costs him nothing’ possibly suggest that the metro carried no inspiration or beauty, just emptiness thus there was nothing there to lay your eyes on.The forth stanza starts off by saying ‘his music goes out among the sounds of footsteps passing’ suggests that the musicians music receives no attention what so ever, didn’t affect anyone but the speaker. The musician’s music described as by the speaker as enchanting is ignored and buried under the dull noise we hear each day. To the speaker this is very unpleasant and the particular use of auditory words such as ‘footsteps’ allows the reader to be part of the atmosphere. The quote ‘the tunnel is the resonance and meaning of what he plays.’ As the musician get no audience to appreciate him for his music it could be said that it describes the emptiness of the sound.

The fifth stanza the speaker describes ‘end of what you may be going toward’ saying that the music was coming to its end as was the next stop for the métro and until to end he was not able to get any attention. ‘he turns his cap up on his knees’ suggesting he has finished has performance and switches to the person who ask for money to support himself. The speaker signifies the blind musician’s mandolin as ‘the lantern of his world.’ Indicates that the blind mandolin player has found comfort in and through his mandolin which is mainly his source of income. ‘holds up his mandolin’ this phrase shows the pride the blind mandolin player has for his instrument and basically his life source.The sixth and final stanza ‘this is not the pursing rhythm of a blind cane pecking in the sun, but is a singing in a dark place.’ The characterization used of the ‘pecking cane in the sun’ openly contradicts ‘the singing in a dark place.’ As the pecking is quite annoying to most people specially to get attention, however the singing in the dark place is clam and quiet, and peaceful in a way suggesting that the mandolin player is unique in a way, unlike others, he is not trying to grab their attention but just life his life in the moment with his mandolin.In conclusion Wendell Berry explores the use characterisation, similes, metaphors to alter the reader’s perspective multiple time as we first pity him and then respect him and in the end we regard the blind mandolin player as someone we can look up to because of his strength and willingness to live in the present moment and go on.

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