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The planners by Boey Kim Cheng
Transcript of The planners by Boey Kim Cheng
“meet at desired points”
The author excludes himself, from the planners through repeating
“they” (twice) although every person plays their role in the collective city. This also views them objectively making them appear harsh, thinking and organized, but without love or compassion.
“the sea draws back and the skies surrender.” can be viewed with a touch of irony implying that nature is afraid of human expansion, giving it an attribute nature can not/does not possess.
Describes what the planners do. Giving the image of everything in prefect
But my heart would not bleed
poetry. Not a single drop
to stain the blueprint
of our past’s tomorrow.
Boey Kim Cheng
Singapore-born Australian Poet
First publication at 24 years old
Numerous awards throughout his life
Highly appreciated by Singapore
Calling the Poems Home (2004)
Plum Blossom or Quong Tart at the QVB (2005)
After the Fire: New and selected poems (2006)
Between Stations (2009)
Clear Brightness (2012)
They plan. They build. All spaces are gridded,
filled with permutations of possibilities.
The buildings are in alignment with the roads
which meet at desired points
linked by bridges all hang
in the grace of mathematics.
They build and will not stop.
Even the sea draws back
and the skies surrender.
Characterizes planning as solving a mathematical problem.
“gridded” describes the layout as well of implying that creativity is confined, boxed in.
Planning is seen as a way of shutting out nature attempting to remove the
uncertainty it brings.
They erase the flaws,
the blemishes of the past,
knock off useless blocks with dental dexterity.
All gaps are plugged with gleaming gold.
The country wears perfect rows of shining teeth.
Anesthesia, amnesia, hypnosis.
They have the means.
They have it all so it will not hurt,
so history is new again. The piling will not stop.
The drilling goes right through the fossils of last century.
Imagery of dentistry, an exact science. “dental dexterity”, “gaps are plugged with gleaming gold”, “wears perfect rows of shining teeth”
“They have it all so it will not hurt, so history is new again” the implication is that history hurts people and that the scars of the past remain, and humans are constantly trying to heal the pains of the past.
The dentist imagery moves onto “anesthesia” and the numbing of pain associated with dentistry
Moves away from describing the planners goals, and more towards how they are viewed
Stanza 3 Analysis
“Blueprint” linking to construction plans.
Blood imagery: “bleed” “single drop” “stain”
“would not bleed poetry” gives the idea that
art is not part of the modern expansionist city
building, ironic as part of a poem
Gives the idea that The reality lapses behind
the dreams of the planners. Seldom coming
into fruition the exact pristine way they
Free Verse (no rhyme, no line length, sentence length, rhythm)
gives a sense of irony in the “mathematically designed” city in which no creation is actually ‘free’ to express ideas. This could have been used by the poet as a form of rebellion over conformity. Alternatively he could have been addressing the issue of a small case of rebellion over robotic and repetitive thinking every single day, and to show that there is still a sense of originality and people who have not given up. And they are hiding in places where you least expect it, in the fabric of the poem itself.