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Vernon Scannell's "Makers and Creatures"

Updated on December 19, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Vernon Scannell

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "Makers And Creatures"

Vernon Scannell's "Makers and Creatures" demonstrates a predictable progression of musing from his own poems to how others look on their art to how God looks on His creations.

Vernon Scannell's speaker muses on the bizarre feeling of seeing his poems in magazines long after their publication, which leads him to wonder how God views His creations. Unfortunately, for the poem's ultimate truth-telling value the speaker overlooks a very important point in his musing and analyzing of what God thinks.

Makers And Creatures

It is a curious experience
And one you"re bound to know, though probably
In other realms than that of literature,
Though I speak of poems now, assuming
That you are interested, otherwise,
Of course, you wouldn"t be reading this.
It is strange to come across a poem
In an old magazine, perhaps, and fail
At first to see that it"s your own.
Sometimes you think, grateful and surprised,
"That"s really not too bad", or gloomily:
"Many have done as well and far, far better".
Or, in despair, "My God that"s terrible.
What was I thinking of to publish it".
And then you start to wonder how the great
Poets felt, seeing, surprised, their poems
As strangers, beautiful. And how do all the
Makers feel to see their creatures live:
The carpenter, the architect, the man who
Crochets intricate embroideries
Of steel across the sky. And how does God
Feel, looking at his poems, his creatures?
The swelling inhalation of plump hills,
Plumage of poplars on the pale horizon,
Fishleap flashing in pools cool as silver,
Great horses haunched with glossy muscles
And birds who spray their song like apple juice
And the soft shock of snow. He must feel good
Surprised again by these. But what happens
When He takes a look at Man? Does He say,
"That"s really not too bad", Or does He, as I fear,
Wince ruefully and mutter to Himself:
"What was I thinking of publishing that one"?

Commentary

First Movement: Reading and Interest

It is a curious experience
And one you"re bound to know, though probably
In other realms than that of literature,
Though I speak of poems now, assuming
That you are interested, otherwise,
Of course, you wouldn"t be reading this.

The speaker first labels his experience curious, as he addresses his readers, bestowing on them the same knowledge of experience in other areas besides literature. In his chatty discourse, he says that readers would not be reading this, of course, if they were not interested.

Second Movement: From Curiosity to Strangeness

It is strange to come across a poem
In an old magazine, perhaps, and fail
At first to see that it"s your own.
Sometimes you think, grateful and surprised,
"That"s really not too bad", or gloomily:
"Many have done as well and far, far better".
Or, in despair, "My God that"s terrible.
What was I thinking of to publish it".

Then the speaker moves his feelings from mere curiosity to strangeness. He admits that he finds it "strange to come across a poem / In an old magazine" and not recognize it as his own, at first.

Then the speaker says such a finding leads him to feel grateful yet surprised. Next, he proffers his various reactions to the work from thinking it was not too bad to wondering why he even bothered to publish it.

Third Movement: How Creators Feel About Their Creations

And then you start to wonder how the great
Poets felt, seeing, surprised, their poems
As strangers, beautiful. And how do all the
Makers feel to see their creatures live:
The carpenter, the architect, the man who
Crochets intricate embroideries
Of steel across the sky.

Soon the speaker's musing has led him to wonder how the great poets and other artists feel about their creations; for example, he wonders how carpenters, architects, and skyscraper construction workers feel about their products.

Fourth Movement: Speculating Divinely

And how does God
Feel, looking at his poems, his creatures?
The swelling inhalation of plump hills,
Plumage of poplars on the pale horizon,
Fishleap flashing in pools cool as silver,
Great horses haunched with glossy muscles
And birds who spray their song like apple juice
And the soft shock of snow. He must feel good
Surprised again by these. But what happens
When He takes a look at Man? Does He say,
"That"s really not too bad", Or does He, as I fear,
Wince ruefully and mutter to Himself:
"What was I thinking of publishing that one"?

Finally, as might be predicted, unless the poet were a mouth-foaming atheist or political-correctness kool-aid drinker, the speaker muses on "how God feels, looking at his poems, his creatures?" Though God's feelings remain a mystery, of course, the speaker's feelings are clearly unveiled in his beautiful, and sumptuous descriptions such as "[t]he swelling inhalation of plump hills, / Plumage of poplars on the pale horizon" and "birds who spray their song like apple juice."

Lest the speaker's ebullient descriptions had failed to open his heart fully, the speaker literally evaluates God's probable feelings by exclaiming, "He must feel good / Surprised again by these." A twinge of misanthropy enters the speaker's summation when he turns his attention to what God might think of mankind: "But what happens / When He takes a look at Man? Does He say, / 'That's really not too bad,' Or does He, as I fear, / Wince ruefully and mutter to Himself: / 'What was I thinking of publishing that one?'"

The speaker's feeling is again clearly asserted by his insertion of the phrase, I fear, before declaring the negative feelings of wincing ruefully and wondering why He bothered to create that one. But God made Man in His own image. It seems that such an exceptional circumstance would preclude those negative feelings that the speaker ascribes to God. Of course, the speaker is only speculating, wondering about possibilities. For that, the reader may overlook that final lapse and recall the beauty of his earlier descriptions.

Vernon Scannell's singular obsession with becoming a poet

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

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