How Does Tracy K. Smith Create An Elegy In Life On Mars

1737 Words7 Pages

America’s present-day Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, has taken the nation by storm with her Pulitzer Prize winning book Life on Mars. The collections of poems revolve around a vast range of subjects regarding space exploration and her personal life. In the book, the poem “The Speed of Belief” is an elegy to her father whom worked on the Hubble telescope in the 70s. The poem is broken up over seven pages, each with its own structure that signifies a stage of grief. Smith’s elegy details how she personally went through the different stages of grief. This poem is a representation of not only her immense grieving for her father, but how she used this low point in her life to evolve as an individual and make peace with her loss. Tracy K Smith’s poem …show more content…

Smith’s life than she had ever intended. According to The Washington Post, the beginning stages of this book were written prior to her father becoming ill. Clearly, The Life on Mars poem collection was always something Smith wanted to create and originally no purposed to be an elegy. In an interview with The Adroit Journal Smith describes the process as “the sense of tribute developing gradually with Life on Mars. The sequence called “The Speed of Belief”, was written at the point during Smith’s father’s illness where death was not only possible but probable. When her father passed then the “feeling of loss took over her life in a lot of ways” (Sheereen). This feeling of loss was evident throughout Smith’s writings. The presence of loss and grieving became a central theme to the entire book. Even the poems that had been written before her father was sick became an elegy almost residually. “The Speed of Life” nearly covers the entire second section of Smith’s novel in full memoriam of her father Floyd William Smith. Originally the book Life on Mars, was not meant to be an elegy to her father but as Tracy’s life began to take a devastating turn her work developed into a therapeutic elegy that allowed her to make peace with the loss of her …show more content…

"Our limbs tangle in sleep, but our shadows walk." (29) The personification of "our shadows walk" expresses the haunting feeling of loved ones that looms over people after someone has passed. The "old ones turn up in dreams" shows that people from our past have a way of coming back to us, reminding us of what we have done. "Our shadows walk" is meant to show how people are forced, especially in sub-consciousness, to "walk" with their memories, good or bad, in order to recognize the past, eventually leading to acceptance. In an interview with The Iowa Review Tracy K Smith discusses how her poems were unknowingly apart of her healing process. “I knew it but I didn’t know it. I can see the darkness at the edge of those poems. In the same way, I can see now in Life on Mars that elegy had been on my mind even before I understood that it was.” Clearly this was how Tracy was of discovering how to make peace with her loss finally. So, the overall construction of this poem has been a person journey for Smith as she not only was able to honor her father but also slowly heal herself from her

Open Document