Book "How to be perfect" by Ron Padgett Essay Analysis

The book “How to be Perfect” by Ron Padgett presents poems to portrays his ideas and thoughts in a distinct way. The little world of poems is not a world but places with emotions and he starts his book with a poem which explains about his childhood. As per (Lehman) “Five decades fuel his Collected Poems, a tome teeming with Padgett’s trademark traits: comic energy, good humor, an alert intelligence, constant curiosity, and the determination to put it all into poems”.The poems are haunted and he complains about the dead artist who is not present when you are with them whom you actually do not see like William Shakespeare. In his last poem, he talks against absence through “Bastille Day”. Surprisingly the American poet calls on a poem based on French National Day.

As per (Yau ) “It seems to me that Padgett recognizes that certain events exist in the domain of the unspeakable, and they don’t necessarily have to be devastating and traumatic to become something not written about”. The poet goes into the monarchial period of France where Bastille was a prison. The poem represents the lack of freedom to a speech during the time of the French revolution. So the “Bastille Day” represents the fear, violence, and pain but also portray hope and remembrance. Firstly, we see that In the continuity of his work which is to pay attention to objects, to real things around us, Padgett uses a historical reference to give us a poem that reveals different meanings, even if it may at first distill an impression of sadness.

Secondly, Padgett uses the notion of presence versus absence through the combination of tenses and the choice of particular words. Then, he shows that there is an optimistic opening at the end of the poem. Through the poem, one can feel the impression of lack of something an absence. The poem is not connected through words and the sentences stop abruptly. In the poem, there is a contrast between me and them like the contrast between past events and present feelings. According to (Warner) “Many of the poems seem to contain Images chosen at random, and they are presented without much commentary or connectives”.

Ron Padgett uses objects also to symbolize the notion of presence versus absence through the word “column”. “Column represents the place where the Bastille was situated like a tombstone that would remind us about the former building that is the Bastille prison. As per (Kate) “Place de la Bastille, or otherwise known as Bastille square is well known for the fortress which once stood in its place, the storming of Bastille and various other occurrences and moments throughout the years” . Even though his lines express the loss of his mother and pain as a burden on him. The absence of his mother gives a presence of a loss in him. Also, the cover page of the book” How to be perfect” which showcases a goldfinch by Carl symbolizes pain. As per ( Fritzparick) “ Goldfinch is a painting by Carel Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt and teacher of Vermeer. The bird in the painting lived in captivity, as is illustrated by the chain around his leg. It symbolizes the death and the poet wants to express the absence of his mother and the pain engulfing in the presence of the memory of her.


Work Cited
Davis, Kate J. “Place De La Bastille Square in Paris and the July Column.”
Fitzpatrick, Cristen. “The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.”
Lehman, David. “Collected Poems .”
Warner, Elinor H. “Symbolic form and social interaction in post-industrial American Society.”
Yau, John. “Why I Am a Member of the Ron Padgett Fan Club.”

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