By Alison Smith

Students in ENG 442 are sharing their reading responses to the Major Nebraska Writers we have encountered this Fall. Alison’s post was inspired by her reading of the poetry of Ted Kooser.

Throughout this semester while reading different writers, the home has been a common theme. Home is different for every person and all the writers have expressed what they have experienced while living. The writer that will be discussed throughout this paper will be Ted Kooser, an American poet who showcases how the Great Plains is his home. In his collection  “Delights and Shadows,” he writes the many different features of the Great Plains and how different points in his life made him feel at home.

Who is Ted Kooser? It is important to note information that made the writer who he is and what inspired most of his works. Theodore J. Kooser as stated above is an American poet. He was born in 1939 on April 25th and is still living to this day at the age of 82 years old. Throughout his life, received many high honor awards for the work he created. Kooser was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. He was elected to be a part of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress from 2004 until 2006. Kooser was one of the first poets of the group to select from the Great Plains. Ted Kooser is well-known after this for his different yet casual style of writing for poetry.

Lobocraspis Griseifusa

This is the tiny moth who lives on tears, 
who drinks like a deer at the gleaming pool 
at the edge of the sleeper’s eye, the touch 
of its mouth as light as a cloud’s reflection.

In your dream, a moonlit figure appears 
at your bedside and touches your face. 
He asks if he might share the poor bread 
of your sorrow. You show him the table.

The two of you talk long into the night, 
but by morning the words are forgotten. 
You awaken serene, in a sunny room, 
rubbing the dust of his wings from your eyes.

This is a poem called “Lobocraspis Griseifusa” by Ted Kooser, about a tiny moth that lives on a tear. By looking into the first lines, many different points of imagery are showcased. The first line states, “This is the tiny moth who lives on tears,”. Already we know a character of the poem and what the character needs to live. The next line gives more images, “who drinks like a deer at the gleaming pool”. A great picture is placed in the minds of the readers by comparing the moth drinking tears to a deer who drinks from a pool. The next two lines fit along together (lines three and four). “At the edge of the sleeper’s eye, the touch of its mouth as light as a cloud’s reflection.”, gives the reader more of what interacts the moth/ character experiences. The last lines show a reader how delicate and gentle the moth can be.

The setting of this poem is set in a dream realm where a moth enters a human’s home. This gives us the home feeling we are looking for. In the next stanza, the readers get more information about what should be pictured. “In your dream, a moonlit figure appears at your bedside and touches your face”. This is a great way to describe a dream and see something in a daze. While sleeping nothing is clear enough to depict and Kooser explains this perfectly. “He asks if he might share the poor bread of your sorrow.”, shows readers a sad tone to the life that everyone faces. The last line is the best line in the second stanza, “You show him the table”. This line shows the person in the story welcoming the moth to the sorrow felt and sharing it.

Before moving on to that last stanza, it is crucial to discuss the second-person narrative starting in the second stanza. What is a second-person point of view? This is the form that uses you, your, and yours, not giving a name but placing it on the reader. Kooser’s thought was to use the reader as a character in the story allowing us to fill the shoes of what is taking place. This allows for a personal feeling by repeating “you” and “your” throughout the poem. These pronouns place a reader at the moment that the story is taking place.

Finally, the last stanza brings a close to this poem. “The two of you talk long into the night,”, this first line puts us at the table with the moth and talking into the early morning. The second line states, “but by morning the words are forgotten”. This conveys that the reader/ person of the story awakes from the daze of sleep and forgets what happened. “You awaken serene, in a sunny room, rubbing the dust of his wings from your eyes.”, shows us as readers that Kooser wanted the reader/ person in the story to wake up confused if this all took place or not. The dust on the eye shows that it might have been all real but it’s up to the reader to decide.

Overall, I thought this poem was so interesting. As discussed in class, this was one of his hardest poems in the book, but it held meaning for me. Since my grandfather gave me the Indian name of the white butterfly, I have noticed I see them everywhere. He told me this means it’s the people who have passed on coming to show me that they are always with me. So, in this poem I pictured my little brother coming into my dream and showing me that everything will be okay at the end of the day. I shed a tear while reading this poem by Ted Kooser, so it was important to me to share this story.


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