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Poetry Explication: “The Tally Stick” By Jarold Ramsey.

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Poetry Explication: "The Tally Stick" By Jarold Ramsey In "The Tally Stick," Ramsey suggests that love is an enduring partnership through his use of symbolism, tactile imagery, but with a subtle tone of resentment. "The Tally Stick" describes love as being a long-term, lasting relationship between two individuals. The entire poem establishes a relation between the couple and a stick. The stick contains engraved "notches" (l. 6). "Here from the start, from our first of days, look: / I have carved our lives in secret on this stick . . . "(l. 1-2). Ambiguity is centered in these lines, around the word "secret". It could be that he/she is physically carving the stick, or maybe just describing the secret love life shared between the couple. ...read more.


The events named that do not encompass the couple's relationship are random significant events in history, "the Year the World Went Wrong" (l. 16), and "the days the Great Men fell" (l. 17). "The lengthening runes of our lives run through it all" (l. 19). This would have to indicate that although those world events were important events in history and the world, nothing could have compared to the events directly associated with their relationship. Events associated with their relation occupied the place of importance to them, everything else just fade into the background. The casualties of these events had worn through their relationship. "See, our tally stick is whittled nearly end to end; / delicate as scrimshaw, it would not bear you up" (l. ...read more.


The line, "And in one another's blameless eyes go blind" (l. 28), means they have stopped blaming each other, and do not regret the marks in their past or that this time of feeling has passed. "The Tally Stick" depicts love as a long term relationship and describes the ups and downs in a true practical sense. It makes almost no attempts to describe the couple's love as being idealistic. Instead it describes love in the everyday context. It talks about the birth of children which for many is supposed to be a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. However, I believe this feeling of love and commitment dwindled to everyday companionship as they counted tallies. ...read more.

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