Critical Analysis of Pedro Pietri’s Poem Ode to a Grass Hopper

The poem can be analyzed from several schools of thought. Let’s consider new criticism. New criticism focuses on the aesthetic aspect, the tropes used in it. An unexpected grasshopper staring at the poet’s thoughts is personification. The telephone having a mind of its own is again rhetorically a personification. Miracle on the 53rd street is magic realism. You mind your own business and I won’t pose you any questions are again poetry infused with personification. My non existing paint brushes are a metaphor suggestive of grass not growing in a high-rise building.

Psychoanalytically speaking there’s a hint of egotistic narcissism in the mind of the poet. The gaze of the poet is in Lacan’s language is a phallic gaze. The poet does not make music of poetry about the grasshopper but gazes at it from different masculine points of view. The grasshopper staring at him brings into juncture a masculine phallic gaze. This gaze is a gaze that is constructed cinematically too. Rather than being delighted the language of the poem revolves around the gaze. The relationship is impersonal, ‘you mind your business and I mind my own’.

From a Jungian point of view, the grasshopper becomes an archetype of a gnome or a troll. The grasshopper is psychologically portrayed in a language where the archetype defies rather than deifies the presence of the subject. The grasshopper becomes a psychic entity, an invading mental juggernaut who speaks to the poet in the language of a cosmic machine. In Jungian language, grasshopper is the presence of a dark archetype, a little devil incarnate that deliberately disturbs the privacy of the poet.

Existentially speaking there’s a hint of deliberate nihilism in the poem. The poet has negated the existence of the grasshopper in a cloud of language that shows that the grasshopper has deliberately invaded his privacy. The poet feels intimidated by the presence of being of the grasshopper. Being of the grasshopper is examined in the topology of language as the presence of existence of consciousness negating the being of the grasshopper in impersonal language. For example, ‘you mind your business and I will mind my own’. Consciousness becomes a literary instrument of ‘nothingness’, put in Sartre’s language. The surprise of finding the grasshopper does not become an adornment of delight but becomes a literary vehicle for the expression of angst. There’s an existential mysticism of language being put in the hyperbole of machinery. Is the poet a punk of being a mechanized saint? Caution, suspicion and the spirit of unwelcoming are other existential gestures conveyed through the language of the poet. The grasshopper is the poet’s existential other. The poet traps the grasshopper in the language of another who’s traumatized in the world of words.


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