The Albatross Poem by Kate Bass – Poem, Meaning, Summary and Poem Analysis.

Introduction of the Poet of Poem The Albatross

The Albatross is a remarkable piece on loneliness. It was first published in 2003 in the poem “The Pasta Maker.” This poem puts light on the feelings and emotions of a lonely mother who craves the love of her beloved. It talks about the relationships that are forced to sustain even after nothing is left in them.

Kate Bass, born in North London, studied Chemistry at Edinburgh University before studying illustration at Angelia Polytechnic University. Her poems generally are about family, relationships, and child-raising.

She was shortlisted for the Arts Council/Radio 4 ‘First Verse’ award in 2002. The poem ‘The Albatross’ is one of those selected for the Annual US Poetry Out Loud Competition.

The Albatross Poem by Kate Bass

When I know you are coming home

I put on this necklace:

glass beads on a silken thread,

a blue that used to match my eyes.

I like to think I am remembering you.

I like to think you don’t forget.

The necklace lies heavy on my skin,

it clatters when I reach down

to lift my screaming child.

I swing her, roll her in my arms until she forgets.

The beads glitter in the flicker of a TV set

as I sit her on my lap

and wish away the afternoon.

I wait until I hear a gate latch lift

the turn of key in lock.

I sit amongst toys and unwashed clothes,

I sit and she fingers the beads until you speak

in a voice that no longer seems familiar, only strange.

I turn as our child tugs at the string.

I hear a snap and a sound like falling rain.

Summary of the Poem The Albatross – Stanza Wise

In the first stanza, the speaker talks about how she wears the blue glass beaded necklace on the days when her beloved comes home. She likes to think that she remembers all the good things and time spent with her beloved and hopes that her beloved hasn’t forgotten any of them too.

In the second stanza, the necklace feels heavy as she reaches down to lift her crying child. This brings light to how difficult it has been for her to hold on to the bond with her beloved. The speaker gets busy comforting her little child and the entire afternoon whiles away.

In the last stanza, the speaker waits to hear the latch of the gate being opened and the turn of the key in the lock. This is a sign that her beloved is home. The speaker is amid the toys and unwashed clothes, and the child plays with the beads of the necklace as she speaks with her beloved.

She feels like he is a stranger to her and no longer the man she loved. She felt her child tug at the string and she hears a snap and the falling of the beads like the rain. This also symbolizes how her hopes of getting her beloved back are broken and there is nothing more for her to hold on to her beloved.

Central Theme of Poem The Albatross

The Central theme is loneliness and the desire to be loved. The speaker in the poem is a lonely mother whose day is filled with her responsibilities to the child and home. She craves the love and the bond she held with her beloved. She thinks about the past and tries to remind him too about the past. But, the spark of the relationship is lost.

Other Theme of Poem The Albatross

The poem is filled with sadness, sorrow, memories, time and its changes, and unwillingness to let go and move on. The speaker, even though is aware of how the relationship with her beloved is empty, is still unwilling to let go and lives in the memories and the love of the past and wishes to remind him of the same by wearing the blue beaded ornament.

Line by Line interpretation of the Poem The Albatross

When I know you are coming home

I put on this necklace:

glass beads on a silken thread,

a blue that used to match my eyes.

I like to think I am remembering you.

I like to think you don’t forget. The poem starts with the speaker stating that she wears the blue beaded necklace, whenever her beloved comes home, in the memory of the relationship she and her beloved shared. The necklace is a metaphor used to emphasize one contrast between the bond they both held earlier and the bond they hold today.

It signifies the extent to which their relationship changed. That blue necklace matches her blue eyes and probably was once complimented by her beloved in the past.

Wearing that necklace is a way she can be reminded of the love and the bond they used to share in the post and hope that the same would be reminded by her partner when he sees the same.

The necklace lies heavy on my skin,

it clatters when I reach down

to lift my screaming child.

I swing her, roll her in my arms until she forgets.

The beads glitter in the flicker of a TV set

as I sit her on my lap

and wish away the afternoon.

The necklace lies heavy signifies the weight she holds of the past shared with her partner. Even though she is aware that the bond they share is empty and holds no love and respect, but yet she is unwilling to let go of hope and her past.

She is not ready to accept and move on and those memories are holding heavy on her. She diligently holds her baby, calms her and whiles away her afternoon in front of the television.

The phrase the beads glitter in the flicker of a TV set signifies how her heart craves for the love and care from her partner and how these memories pass by her mind.

I wait until I hear a gate latch lift

the turn of key in lock.

I sit amongst toys and unwashed clothes,

I sit and she fingers the beads until you speak

in a voice that no longer seems familiar, only strange.

I turn as our child tugs at the string.

I hear a snap and a sound like falling rain.

The speaker hears the sound of the gate latch being lifted and the key in the lock. Her partner has arrived home, she waits amongst toys and unwashed clothes. She plays with the beads of the necklace while she speaks with her partner.

But sadly, he doesn’t notice the necklace, nor is reminded of anything. His voice seems strange and unfamiliar to her. The last two lines of this stanza signify the realization she feels that the only string that ties her and her partner is because of their child.

There is no hope left anymore in the bond between them and is irreparable. Her child tugs on to the strings of the necklace and its snaps. The beads fall out and it sounds like the rain. This also symbolizes that her last hope in her falling relationship breaks and there is nothing left anymore to hold on to her beloved.

Tone, Speaker and Audience of the Poem The Albatross

The audience in the poem is probably the people in love. She wants to express her emotions and how the relationship might lose its spark over time. It might not remain to be the way it used to be and this irreparable loss of charm is neither of their faults.

Poem Analysis of the poem The Albatross

The Albatross by Kate Bass gives a reader a picturization of a situation where the is nurturing her baby and maintaining the house herself and has to encounter her beloved or husband (when there is no longer love between them) when he comes back home.

The poem consists of three stanzas where the first stanza is a sestet and the other two stanzas have seven lines each. It is a free-verse poem and doesn’t follow any rhyme or meter.

The title word Albatross has several meanings. The relevant meaning of the poem here (meaning; something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety) gives us a hint that the speaker is going to talk about something that rises concern or tension in the poem.

In the poem, the Necklace plays a significant role, as you can see that the speaker’s emotions are represented through the Necklace. There is a beginning, story, and end to the necklace. So are her emotions attached to her beloved.

The speaker relates to the necklace saying it used to match her blue eyes. The word usage used can signify that the glass beads were new and bright, just like their love.

She says she puts on the necklace when her beloved comes home. Here the speaker is trying to portray the situation or his arrival as a period, a phase where she puts on the role of a wife/ beloved. It seems that the necklace reminds her that she is his beloved.

When the speaker is also setting up affirmations that she wants to think that things are good between her and the beloved, which is not true in reality. The line I like to think presents this idea. Because she isn’t saying that they both always think of each other but at least remember and hope he hasn’t forgotten her yet.

The heaviness of the necklace is the metaphor that can be interpreted as, the heaviness of the relationship, the heaviness she goes through in her heart. Also might be the heaviness that comes from motherhood and the responsibility of managing it alone.

The description of the child is interesting here as the speaker uses the word screaming child. This may convey that the speaker is unable to cater to the child always and thus the child screams most of the time.

The third stanza gives the reader a detailed description of the situation. This provides an idea of the flow of thoughts and the untold feelings of the speaker in the poem. The unwashed clothes mentioned in the poem show how the speaker is unable to manage her child and the house.

Until here the speaker doesn’t indicate directly that her relationship is no longer lovable. Through the line voice is no longer familiar, she conveys that their relationship is broken.

The last line is the most powerful in the poem. It beautifully communicates the similarity between her broken relationship and the broken necklace. Falling rain might also signify how her emotions or love are falling off for his beloved.

To conclude, though the poem seems to be a description of an event in general, it holds deeper meaning and that is mainly conveyed through analogies, symbols, and the title of the poem.

Poetic Devices used in the Poem The Albatross

1.Enjambment : It is defined as a thought in a verse that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, it continues in the next line or verse.

2. Symbolism: Using symbols to signify emotion, quality or ideas. The necklace is the symbol of past memories with her partner.

3. Metaphor: The necklace is the metaphor for her past love and bond shared with her partner.

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