“First Poem for You” is a poem by written by Kim Addonizio, an American poet. This poem “First Poem for You” is a closed-form poem but written as an English sonnet. The poem a person who loves the tattoos in his or her lover’s skin. At the same time the tattoos scares him or her by their permanence. The thoughtfulness and the depth of details expressed in this poem makes us conclude that the persona or speaker in this poem is a female. The speaker is certain about the permanence of the tattoos on her lover’s skin, but she is worried about potential changes on her love to him.
This makes her scared to precisely show her love. In the first sentence, the speaker feels more comfortable touching the tattoos in the dark. In the dark she is able to hide her fears but still show her love and affection to his tattooed lover. She proves her love to this tattooed love in the second sentence, whereby she detailed described the tattoo designs and their location on her lover’s body. Her knowledge about the tattoos shows that they have been closer to each other and she has taken her time to know him better. The third sentence can be used to interpret the speaker’s intimate affairs with her lover.
After their intimacy moments, the persona or speaker likes it when expressing her love by kissing the permanent tattoos, which in this case represents the man himself. She adores the tattoos so much, in the fourth sentence, because no matter what happens between the two of them, the tattoos will remain unchanged until seared to ashes. After this line, the speaker say, such permanence is terrifying, reason being that, she is aware that the tattoos will always be there permanently, however, his love for her cannot be permanently promising as much as the tattoos can.
This explains why she touches them in dark, that is, so her fears may never be noticed when she is comparing his lover’s tattoos to their relationship. Nevertheless, she keeps trying to at least make their relationship permanent just like the tattoos by regularly touching them. The title of the poem, “First Poem for You”, is an evidence that it was the first time she felt secure enough to express her desires in their relationship. This desires and wants are that their relationship should be adorable and long lasting just like his body tattoos.
She is able to describe her intense love connection though touch and memory. Her words reveals the desire she has for this tattooed lover. The tattoos are less terrifying than the man, for they are permanent and will never change. But his love for her can change, for either better or worse. Addonizio used symbolism in a greater part of this poem. Symbols of nature and the society have been used to show a comparison of the tattoos and poetry with love in a relationship. Some of the words which are symbolic in the poem are lightning, water, serpent, dragon and pictures.
Each of these symbols has its own meaning and significance in the poem. They are intended to express the speaker’s perspective on love and tattoos on her lover’s body. Lightning, as used, symbolizes the power of love. The speaker is able to enjoy when she touches the tattoos, even when she cannot see him. Her heart knows when the lightning is pulsing. In line four and five of the first stanza, lines of lightning pulsing just above your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, shows that depending on the situation, the beat if the heart varies.
Therefore, the speaker’s instinct is depended on the location of every tattoo on the lover’s body. Lightning is symbolic in that it represents the power of love, her experience of being in love. The persona is knows by heart where the lightning is pulsing. Water has been used as a symbol of purity. It symbolizes the purity of her love for the man in her heart. Swirls of water in line six represents the purity of their love and relationship. The speaker knows that the blue swirls of water are just above his shoulder. The serpent symbolizes the evil forces trying to split their relationship.
The serpent is facing a dragon, which symbolizes a warrior. The dragon shows some bravery to fight against the evil forces of their relationship. Therefore, in this case, we can say that the tattooed man is the warrior and is willing to fight for their love to last. Also the dark in the first and last lines symbolizes how confused the speaker is about their relationship. In the first sentence, the speaker feels more comfortable touching the tattoos in the dark. In the dark she is able to hide her fears but still show her love and affection to his tattooed lover.
She is uncertain whether their love for each other will be able to last as much as the tattoos. The permanence of their relationship is further insisted symbolically when the persona speaks of ashes, which means that the tattoos will be there until his dead body is cremated. The main symbol in “First Poem for You” are the tattoos. Tattoos and their permanence symbolizes love and its permanence too, which is the real meaning of the poem. The poem, “First Poem for You”, is a sonnet for it consists of fourteen lines which are written in iambic pentameter.
The lines have no particular pattern in the number of syllables. With some keenness in reading a regular rhyming scheme of abab, cdcd, appears in every line in this pattern. This continues until the last two lines whose rhyme is gg. The poem is correctly read when one uses the sentences rather than the line themselves. The structure of the poem helps in its interpretation, with the hidden rhyme scheme (Kennedy and Gioia, 23-25) The hidden rhyme scheme when noticed, makes the poem sweet and interesting.
This can be likened with the seemingly boring relationship between the persona and the tattooed lover, but in its deeper side, a flourishing and structural love is existing in their hearts. I also think that, the way the sentences are structured, making one to continue reading to get a sound meaning was intentional. In this case, we can say that in a relationship both parties have to strive to be together for a meaningful and lasting results, just like the tattoos.
In conclusion, Kim Addonizio in “First Poem for You”, has used the best poetry structure and symbolism to express the theme of relationship. Normally, people use the darkness to conceal their imperfections, but others can use darkness to hide their insecurities like the persona in this poem. The speaker uses darkness to hide from the reality in an attempt to avoid hurting her lover. This is also a measure to make their relationship last longer just like the tattoos on his body, she so much adores. Therefore, Kim Addonizio work in expressing the fears in a relationship through poetry was a success.