In Audres poem "Beams" she suggests that the process of aging and the loss of the vigor youth is something that cannot be halted. The poem expresses the sadness and loss of innocence that results from the perception of aging. It also expresses her sense of nostalgia and loss at the passing years and lost opportunities. The poem describes the poet's desire and efforts to regain the exuberance of youth. A number of poetic techniques are used in the poem. Imagery is used extensively to express the intention of the poet. Rhythm is also used as a means of enhancing meaning. One of the central devices used in the poem is word usage or diction; where various words can have double or ambiguous meanings.
The first two lines of the first section introduce images and content that relate to the past as well as to the contradiction between youth and old age. "In the afternoon sun / that smelled of contradiction." ( Lines 1 and 2)
The word "afternoon" and the atmosphere of the late day and approaching dusk, all suggest a feeling and a mood of decline and rest. This is further emphasized by the word "contradiction" in the second line which intimates a sense of opposition. This sense of opposition and conflict is to be carried throughout the poem in various forms. In these lines a contrast is suggested between youthful energy and the decline into old age. This mood of contradiction is further emphasized by the third line which suggests the start of spring. " quick birds announcing spring's intention / and autumn about to begin " ( lines 3 and 4)
The images of spring and nature are contrasted with the onset of autumn and, by implication, old age. These lines set the tone of the poem which is continued throughout. Note as well the use of diction in the third line. The use of the word "quick" captures the sense of aliveness in spring. On the other hand it can also be interpreted as something that is fleeting and closely to be followed by autumn.
The poem continues to explore this sense of contradiction between youth and age and a sense of regret and self-admonishment creeps into the poem.
choice becoming a stone wall across possible beams outlined on the shapes of winter
( lines 9-13)
The suggestion in the above lines is that choices made in life become like a "stone wall" which prevents the crossing of "beams." The word "beams" suggests avenues or pathways that could have been taken in life but were not. The word could also refer to beams of light that illuminate the past and the energy of vibrant youth. Another interpretation of this word could also refer to having a beam in one's eye; in other words not being able to see the truth or reality of things clearly.
The rest of the first section of the poem refers to images and activities in the past - or the time of spring. They are essentially youthful images of energy a life that are presented in a montage of various snapshots of activity in memory.
the sunset colors of Southhamton Beach
red-snapper runs at Salina Cruz
and we slept in the fishermen's nets a pendulum swing between the rippling fingers of a belly dancer with brass rings and a two-year-old's sleep smell the inexorable dwindling no body's choice and for a few short summers
I too was delightful.
( Lines 14 -24)
The Rhythm of these lines is fast and vibrant with the images contributing to the overall impression of life and activity. Notice the use of verbs and words that suggest movement and youth such as "swing," "rippling" and "dancer." However the body has no choice but to get old - " no body's choice"- and this leads to an "inexorable dwindling." The last two lines of the above section suggest the sense of loss and regret that returns the reader to the main theme of the poem. The time of youth is short and lasts "a few short summers." It is a time when the protagonist had been young, innocent and "delightful." However, this is in the past and there is a sense of regret…