Sunday, November 21, 2004

Khlebnikov's "Asia"

I think that the first line of the poem, which recites "Always a slave girl" refers to the girl's status as a sex slave, perhaps even a government slave, for "her ear gleams with a government seal." Then Khlebnikov discusses her "breast bronze"-- perhaps alluding to the fact that she is a popular sex slave-- a winner-- but she isn't the best of the best, for her breast is only bronze (emblematic of 3rd place) and not gold (for 1st).

There is a definite motif of shining in this peom: "your ear gleams," "human beings glitter," and so forth. However, these shining images are juxtaposed against contradictory images-- the ear gleams with a government seal (which perhaps taints its gleaming and decreases the shine of the ear), and the "human beings glitter in its dark ink." This poem also contains another glaring juxtaposition, this time pertaining to the female sex: "a girl with a sword" and "or an old woman"-- a young woman is armed with a symbol of manhood (possibly even a phallus) while an old woman is identified by a very feminine task-- the "midwife of insurgency."


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