In a message dated 10/3/03 0:25:23 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:

> I do not understand what there is in the poem
> to offer any insight into how much she was hurt
> except the narrator's assumptions.  What allows
> any speculation on any "real" degree of hurt?
> And is not the "I should find / some way"
> linked by syntax and stanza only to the
> preceding "I would. . . / I would. . . / he would"?
>  That is, "I should find some way" to have
> had him leave, to have had her stand
>  and grieve, as the soul. . . .
> What is there in the poem to suggest
> any other knowledge of what any actual "she" felt?
> . . .
> What "real breakup" have we to do with?
> We have the lines of a poem in which a narrator
> speaks of a weeping lady and imagines her in
> specific ways and then imagines her in
> a scene of separation.  The language seems to
> make the separation extremely wrenching: "torn
> and bruised," "deserts the body it has used."
> But there is no language that I can see
> to imply any "real" event about which her
> "real" degree of hurt can be determined.


In the lines

"So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft"

  there is, as you note, a shift in the verb usage. Doesn't the shift in the
verbs from "would have had" (i.e., action in an imagined scene) to "should
find" (i.e., action that is being willed to take place in the present) imply a
shift from an imagined event to a real event? I don't see how the "should find"
can apply to the IMAGINED scene because the narrator has already stated that
the imagined breakup is being staged **exactly as he wants it to happen** --
this is how he "would have had" the breakup take place if he was God and could
stage things exactly as he wanted. Since the imagined breakup is happening just
as the narrator wants it to happen, I don't see why he would then add (about
the imagined breakup), "I should find", implying there was something wrong
with his "would have had" staging. That would be self-contradictory.

Rather, I think the verb shift marks the shift from the narrator's musing
about a real **impending** breakup that hasn't happened yet in the second stanza
(but has happened before the third stanza begins). In that reading, the "I
should find some way" refers to "find some way to break up in real life that is
incomparably light and deft", not too dramatic as was the mythic breakup
depicted initially.

Then, in the third stanza, the "I should have lost a gesture and a pose"
implies yet another time shift -- the real breakup has happened, it didn't go
well, and the narrator reflects that he "should have" (past tense) acted
differently during the real breakup than he actually did.

 -- Steve --