The Author to Her Book
Writing and Revision
This poem is about the relationship between and author and her book. It is also, however, about writing itself, and not just that, but writing and revising poetry. The speaker uses a bunch of metaphors (“stretcht,” “washed,” “rubbed”) to describe the act of revision, and boy does it sound tough. No matter how hard she tries, the speaker just can’t seem to revise her writing to her satisfaction. Well we all know that feeling, that’s for sure.
- Lines 11-12: The speaker uses a metaphor to compare the work of revision to amending “blemishes.” Revision, then, is a kind of fixing or cleaning.
- Lines 13-14: The metaphor of cleaning off dirt—amending “blemishes”—continues in these lines, where it is even more explicitly compared to washing dirt from a child’s face. As we've probably all experienced, her revisions reveal more “flaws,” and in some cases, seem to make things worse, or “dirtier.”
- Lines 15: The speaker uses the metaphor of stretching to describe her attempts to fix the meter of her poems (“make thee even feet”). It seems that revising poetry—making it metrically “even” or smooth—entails an act of violence (“stretcht”).
- Line 16: The speaker’s attempts at revision have failed. The poems still seem like “hobbling” works of art, which is a metaphor for the way in which they appear metrically uneven: rough, not smooth, characterized by jolts.
- Lines 17: To trim in better dress—that phrase refers to decking out one’s kid in nice clothes, and here it’s a metaphor for making the poems better. Specifically, it probably refers to using better or more “poetic" language.
- Line 18: The “home-spun cloth” is also a metaphor for the poems' language. It is “home-spun,” i.e. plain and boring, rather than elaborate or elegant.