Explication: Mark Doty’s ‘Nocturne in Black & Gold’

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

First, read the poem.  Second, here’s the painting.  Third, listen to this excerpt from the aria.

In ‘Nocturne in Black and Gold,’ Mark Doty transforms “harbor and heaven,” the tangible and the ineffable, into “one continuum / sans coast or margins,” and compels the reader to dissolve into the residual vapor.  The poem, from Doty’s 1995 collection Atlantis, is an ekphrasis, a literary depiction of a visual work of art, the subject matter here being James McNeill Whistler’s “Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket.”  Doty references the painting as well as a famous soprano part of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, weaving these works together into a poem aimed at the possibility of transcendence. « Read the rest of this entry »

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