Poetry Review: And as in Alice

And as in Alice

            In the poem “And as in Alice” Mary Jo Bang has used the theme of “Alice in Wonderland” to describe that people tend to take the superficial meanings of things and are unable to comprehend the metaphorical concepts and ideas. Of this poem, the first and the last stanza are very important as in these stanzas the real intention of the poetess becomes clear though in the middle four stanzas she beautifully picturizes Alice with her head in the rabbit hole, wondering what possible harm might come to her. In the first stanza, the poetess presents a question to her readers and in the last stanza she answer herself how a girl could grow one tree from a seed and how she could make a cat.

In the first stanza Mary Jo Bang shrewdly invites the attention of readers whether a metaphorical character like Alice could be presented in a poem. The second stanza presents the concept of the poetess about ordinary people and in this stanza she says the people nod and they cannot see but the girl with her head in the rabbit hole. From this, she means to say that beyond that point, people cannot see things or visualize the deeper meanings. She says: “They all nod. They see. Except for the girl / her bum looks like the flattened backside”. From this, the poetess expresses her disappointment of the comprehension level of people and presents them taking more interest in obvious things instead of appreciating the meaning behind the lines. According to the poetess, Alice is a metaphor of childhood and just as in childhood our desires are queer and imaginative, we should treat the character of Alice in personification of our own childhood. In the first stanza the poetess puts before us the idea of a metaphor while in the last stanza she offers us to ponder over the possibility of growing a tree from a seed. By this she means to say that we should not mingle imagination and reality with each other and take the things in their real perspectives. In the last stanza, she asks: “Could she grow one from a seed? Could one make a cat? / Make it sit on a branch and fade away again”

The significance of this poem lies in the fact that it presents the idea in a very simple and lucid manner. The choice of words is marvelous. From the beginning to the end, the poem keep our attention bound and even when we finish the poem, it keeps us pondering and wondering, to dive deep into the real meaning and to think again and again, presenting every time new meanings, new concepts that the poetess could possible has offered to us. The other remarkable thing we come to know in this beautiful poem is that she presents very powerful visual and aural effects and the reader of this poem is compelled to visualize a real girl “wondering what possible harm might come to her / if she fell all the way down the dark she’s looking through”. Next, she presents the aural effect so beautifully that one naturally is able to listen in imagination the sounds that “Perhaps the sounds would be a form of light hissing / Like when a walrus blows air”. This presentation of visual and aural effects makes the poem unique and the most interesting.

Conclusion:                In short, we can say that the poem “And as in Alice” is a marvelous presentation of Mary Jo Bang in which she has used the theme of “Alice in Wonderland”. Though the theme revolves around Alice, the real intent o f the poem is to differentiate between metaphorical meanings and the reality of life, between the people of imagination with those of superficial understanding.

Dissertation Master