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Dangerous Astronomy

Dangerous Astronomy

by Sherman Alexie

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 4-6

So I comforted and kissed him in his dark
Bedroom, but my comfort was not enough.
His mother was more important than the stars

  • This stanza moves the narrative forward a little bit. (By the way, stanza means "room" in Italian. Sort of like how this poem is taking place in a room, each stanza is a little three-line space for the action of the poem to unfold. Cool, huh?)
  • The speaker tries to calm his son in the dark bedroom, but realizes it's not enough. 
  • Line 4 does something fun that only poetry can do. Because the line ends on the word "dark," we hear the slant rhyme (dARk with stARs), and again, the pairing of sounds to emphasize the tension between light and dark (Slant what? Go ahead and brush up on rhyme in the "Form and Meter" section and then come back). 
  • The mother enters in line 6. Here again, the speaker's intentions are interrupted by forces beyond his control. 
  • In stanza 1, he wanted to praise the stars but was interrupted by his son. Here, he tries to comfort his son, but he is incapable of doing that—only his mom can. Yikes! Sounds like his plans aren't going so well. 
  • Also, line 6 is a variation of line 3. Just like the speaker declares that his son's comfort is more important than the stars, so is the son's mama. 
  • Notice how the speaker says, "His mother" rather than "My wife." Any guesses about why he'd do that? Sounds like he's suggesting she's closer to their son than to him. 
  • By line 6, a new association is made. In line 3, the son's comfort "was more important than the stars." In line 6, "[h]is mother was more important than the stars." So, the speaker is aligning his son's comfort with his son's mother. 
  • What's with all the star talk, anyway? In the poem so far, the speaker is realizing that there are more important things (his son/his wife) than his own wants. By admitting that his family is more important to him than the stars, we see him beginning to put them before himself.
  • Also, a rhyme scheme has been introduced. By rhyming stars with, um, stars, the poet is acting like Captain Obvious, saying look, stars, they're probably important in this poem. 
  • And now that we have two stanzas under our belt, we can go ahead and confirm that this poem is a villanelle (read more about this in the "Form and Meter" section), so we can expect to hear that rhyme and find lines 1 and 3 repeated throughout. 
  • We'll go ahead and say those lines will act as the refrain—the repeated lines we'll see again and again in the poem. 
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