Until the Red Heifer appears…

There are certain types of poems that I enjoy. Particularly those that use a minimal language (Colloquial English), such as the poems by William C. Williams or E.E. Cummings. I like that they leave the reader with an image-afterburn in their mind. The reason that they are able to embed such an image is that–like dialect– the words that were used are often staples of the time period.

In the poem Carnation Milk, the poem makes me think of the small 6 oz. cans of condensed/powdered milk with the cow on the cover. The language used is so simple, yet one needs to be aware of “Carnation Milk.” I feel that the poet assumes the reader to know this (an allusion!). This poem was written around the time when the industrial revolution started taking place., when the industry began to streamline everything.

Carnation Milk is the best in the land;

No tits to pull, no hay to pitch.

These lines make me see a person just relaxing with a can of Carnation Milk, realizing that they are no longer to go after a cow; the writer no longer has to go to a cow to milk it, or feed a cow to fatten it. This convenience is a reflection of the time period… so in a way, this makes me think that the poem is a form of dialect of the time period. This is a reflection of the state of the world when the poem was written. Since an allusion is made to carnation milk, it makes dating this poem a bit easier. Since the type of milk was not previously available, we are able to partition the human time-scale into a more reasonable time-frame.

You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.

The language used is so simple and accessible to the common-folk, it makes me think that the milk was priced at a level which anyone can afford it.

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3 thoughts on “Until the Red Heifer appears…

  1. jithing says:

    Good post. This was one of the poems I liked in chapter three. I would agree with you on the fact that the use of minimal language makes poems stand out. Just like you said, I could visually image someone drinking a small carton of milk, like the ones we had in elementary school.

  2. I agree with you, I too like poems that written in common English because I feel more connected to it. I do not feel that the poem is trying to beat me in my efforts to understand it. For this reason, and others I also really liked the poem you write about.

  3. Adam Strunk says:

    Great analysis! I especially enjoyed the connection to the industrial revolution!

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