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Allison O’Regan Prof. Fraustino Intro. To Poetry Peer Review Paper #1- “The Tally Stick” In the poem “The Tally Stick”, Jarold Ramsey uses a stick to symbolize the relationship between two people. Carved notches, arrowheads, and other symbols along the grain of the stick each have their own special meaning and represent certain events that occurred within these people’s lives together. Though over the time, the stick becomes whittled down and weakened; those carvings are a testament to the strength and endurance of their relationship.

Stanza two of the poem takes time to reveal what each individual notch or marking on the tally stick represents in their actual lives. The most intricate carving described represents the day of their wedding. Their lives were brought together that day the same way “the grains converge and join” (6-7) on the stick. With a simple brush of the thumb, the narrator is brought back into the past and remembers all of the different details about that day. Ironically, arrowheads, a symbol generally associated with violence, are used to depict the days of their children’s births.

This association was made because an arrowhead gives direction and purpose to an arrow, much like the way a child can give those same meanings to a parent. The arrowheads combine with the etched crosses, used to symbolize the death of parents and loss of friends, and they “make a kind of design” (12) along the stick. The poem takes on a more dramatic tone in stanza three. In Line 16 within the stanza, it states that the grains that were once conjoined together are now “swirling” (16).

The grain is defined as “the longitudinal pattern of fibers in wood” (Webster), so if the grain is described as swirling, it means it is diverged and not flowing smoothly. With this wooden stick embodying the relationship, a distorted gran could represent a trying period for the two people involved. Along with events that directly correspond to their lives, the stick is also marked with events that happened in general history such as “the Year the World Went Wrong” and “the days the Great Men fell” (17-18). The author then says that “the lengthening runes of our lives run through it all” (19).

Runes being something written in characters, the characters used to describe the personal events within the relationship surpasses the historical events that occurred. At the end of the poem, the final product of the tally stick is described. It had been carved all the way from end to end with meaningful events and occurrences that helped to shape an entire relationship. It is conveyed as being “delicate as scrimshaw” (21), scrimshaw being the word for patterns and designs engraved on fragile materials such as whale bone.

The tally stick is now so lessened, that it would not be able to “bear you up” (21) or support you were you to lean on it. Though positive experiences were revealed in the beginning of the poem, such as the children and the wedding, the author also makes it a point to say that there were also regrets throughout the time he spent with his partner. The wood was “polished…hand over hand” with the regret, meaning their hands ran over the wood so often thinking of mistakes that were made that it was smoothed down.

The line “and in one another’s blameless eyes go blind” (27) shows that throughout time, and throughout all the events that happened, the two individuals do not hold anything against one another and one person is not more responsible for anything that happened than the other. “The Tally Stick” describes all of the events that happen throughout any relationship. By no means is the relationship in this poem an ideal one, proven by all of the nuances and indents made on the tally stick itself.

The irony of it all, and the main point of the poem, is how the stick becomes weaker and weaker with every carving, but each carving manifests something that made the relationship itself stronger. At the end of the stick, where it is frailest is where the most strength is shown by the two individuals who hold no grudge or blame against each other for what has happened over the length of time they have spent together. Every event that physically shaped the tally stick had simultaneously shaped an entire relationship.

Interpretation of A Pauline Epistle

Interpretation of A Pauline Epistle.

Interpretation of A Pauline Epistle

Paper details

Prepare a comprehensive interpretation on Romans 3:21-26

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