Study Guide

Central Heating Setting

By Pierre Reverdy

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While we know that Reverdy was in Paris when he wrote this poem, it seems that the setting of this poem, for the most part, is inside the mind of our speaker. We jump around, following his eyes and his mind from image to image, even if those eyes are going down the wrong road. (Eyeballs behind the wheel of a car –now there's an image for you.)

Essentially, the speaker is trying to construct a setting at the same time that we are. Just what is real? What is artificial? What is memory and what is happening now? We never get the scoop. Instead, we get the speaker going back and forth between image, metaphor, and (seemingly) tangible detail. Frustratingly, he never seems to come to any conclusion.

So what can we say for certain? If we had to give Regis our final answer, it would be that this setting can best be described as… love. The connection between two people—the speaker and the beloved here—is what sets off all these questions pinging around his head and throughout the poem. Love both occasions the questions and suggests varying answers. Have you ever felt that disorienting influence of love before? If not, you will one day, and then you'll be sharing the same setting as this poem's.

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