Analysis of "Cello" Poem by Doriane Laux

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The poem “Cello” by Dorianne Laux, is all about two trees in the forest, one of which is dead and rubs itself onto the one which is living. This, therefore, leads to not only the wearing out of the tree barks, but also the production of sounds. This essay presents the analysis of the poem “Cello” by Dorianne Laux from a craft perspective.

            In the given poem, the description may be viewed in every aspect as literal. The things described are those that dead trees do, that is, shear, rasp, and fall. Nevertheless, they do not build dead music. That is, the dead music is the perspective, refinement, and the wisdom drawn from challenging situations.

            “Cello,” is a 16-line poem in which the resonant metaphors occur as an entirely interdependent and enmeshed organism. There are two metaphors used in Laux's poem. The most blatant metaphor is the comparison of trees to human beings and in particular the reaction of human to loss. Laux personified the death of a tree as it falls into the arms of a living tree. Metaphor mentioned above starts by giving trees anthropomorphic qualities that include embraces and arms. But then, the metaphor becomes abstract when we find that the tree rubs away the bark of the living tree. Here, I see this as parallel to the manner that grief shears away our defenses and in particular people’s tendency to take everything for granted.

            Laux teases us with the details connected to the title image, that is, dead music full of bends and moans taking place as the dead tree rubs against the body of the living tree. In the last two lines of the verse, the two metaphors are jammed together for the last couplet, “the deep/roisined bow sound of the living shouldering the dead.” The term shoulder draws us back to a human form that entails an image of one human body carrying another. On the other hand, the line simultaneously evokes the image of a beautiful cello resting on the shoulder of a musician. The fact that both the images brought out from the last line of the poem can hit the reader and at the same time it is a testament to how expertly woven metaphors are here. Besides, the manner in which the images rub each other make them resonate more on their own.

            Rhyme and meter are the elements of craft that interest me to add to my work. In the poem “Cello,” there appears to be no pattern in the rhyme or meter. My attempts to find a pattern in consonant and vowel sounds bore no fruit. Correspondingly, there is no predictable pattern of grief. The poem revolves around what is gone and what remains in nearly equal portions.

            I have learned several things from the techniques used in writing this poem. I learnt that using metaphors and personification makes the poem interesting and meaningful. I consider the cello as the most melancholy of all the string instruments, beautiful but often sound sad. In the middle of descriptions of grief, there is also a poignant and a growing feeling of change. The poem suggests that even something negative like loss or death may still bring about good things in the time to come. We appreciate what we have after experiencing a loss. When we grieve, our thoughts are consumed with what has been lost and how we are expected to remain and to survive.

December 12, 2023



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