The Tally Stick Essay

Decent Essays

Allison O’Regan
Prof. Fraustino
Intro. To Poetry
Peer Review Paper #1- “The Tally Stick”

In the poem “The Tally Stick”, Jarold Ramsey uses a stick to symbolize the relationship between two people. Carved notches, arrowheads, and other symbols along the grain of the stick each have their own special meaning and represent certain events that occurred within these people’s lives together. Though over the time, the stick becomes whittled down and weakened; those carvings are a testament to the strength and endurance of their relationship. Stanza two of the poem takes time to reveal what each individual notch or marking on the tally stick represents in their actual lives. The most intricate carving described represents the day of their …show more content…

The author then says that “the lengthening runes of our lives run through it all” (19). Runes being something written in characters, the characters used to describe the personal events within the relationship surpasses the historical events that occurred. At the end of the poem, the final product of the tally stick is described. It had been carved all the way from end to end with meaningful events and occurrences that helped to shape an entire relationship. It is conveyed as being “delicate as scrimshaw” (21), scrimshaw being the word for patterns and designs engraved on fragile materials such as whale bone. The tally stick is now so lessened, that it would not be able to “bear you up” (21) or support you were you to lean on it. Though positive experiences were revealed in the beginning of the poem, such as the children and the wedding, the author also makes it a point to say that there were also regrets throughout the time he spent with his partner. The wood was “polished…hand over hand” with the regret, meaning their hands ran over the wood so often thinking of mistakes that were made that it was smoothed down. The line “and in one another’s blameless eyes go blind” (27) shows that throughout time, and throughout all the events that happened, the two individuals do not hold anything against one another and one person is not more responsible for anything that happened than the other. “The Tally Stick” describes all of the events that

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