Thursday, January 15, 2015

Le Photographe est mort

   The song that I choose to defend as an incredible example of poetry is "Taro" by alt-J off of their first album, An Awesome Wave. Being the closing song to a revolutionary new album and style of alternative music, Taro is based on the story of Gerda Taro and Robert Capa. The two were war photographers during the mid-20th century and were in a relationship. The song itself is focused on the four second period before and after Robert Capa is blown up by a mine while photographing in Indochina. It also mentions Taro, who was killed in the Spanish Civil War twenty years earlier. The audience that alt-J seems to be aiming for is to highlight some of those lost from the horrors of combat-related death. No one thinks about others like medics or photographers who die in battle, and the emotional connection between Taro and Capa make for a provoking and interesting lyrical masterpiece.

 The first peace of poetic form that I found was the two lines to end the first stanza. The lines go "They advance as does his chance, very yellow white flash/ A violent wrench grips mass, rips light, tears limbs like rags." The transition and lack of information to the listener about what exactly his chance of encountering is, until the mine has already exploded and hit him. The description of the explosion and the force that the mine has is amazing and violent as it "rips light" with its own flash. All of this action and drama occurs in such a small sliver of time but creates a horrid picture for the photographer.

Later on, as Capa has landed after the explosion, his position is described as being, "From medic from colleague, friend, enemy, foe/ Him five yards from his leg, from you, Taro." This line offers a gruesome look into Capa's position, while also offering a deeper and different look into his position. It also adds an interesting, almost limbo aspect to the position he is in, where he is equidistant from medics and friends and his now detached leg and his love, Taro.

The last section of interesting poetic language used in "Taro" is the repeated line of, "Do not spray into eyes, I have sprayed you into my eyes." The meaning of this goes with the explosion and his profession as a photographer at this time. When someone gets blown up, you would expect their vision to be poor after a "very yellow white flash," But the image of his secret wife is sprayed across his eyes instead of medicine, making his coming death calm and safe. Also, the line ,"All colors and cares glaze to gray,shriveled and stricken to dots." goes with Capa's photography, almost describing it as an outside view of a photo of his own death. Being a wartime photographer, Capa took many pictures of dying men, so the image of himself is quite interesting as he becomes what he took.

Also, although I may get some push back from Mr. Heidkamp, I think that the rhythm of this song makes it more poetic than others. Instead of focusing on rhymes in four strict lines, the words flow and connect in a fluid manner and make the sound much more majestic than if it were upbeat and parallel.

Overall the song and basically everything by alt-J is poetic in some way. Just watch the music videos from any of their albums, from the reverse murder in "Breezeblocks" to the modern version of Raphael's school of Athens in "Tessellate." If you want a video full of deeper meaning, check that out. :333

1 comment:

  1. I definitely never think about war photographers as victims of war itself. I find it interesting how they use such graphic imagery (like the whole tearing limbs and whatnot) and sing it to a sad but surprisingly gentle tune. If I were just reading the lyrics then I would have thought it a more aggressive sounding song. I like that -- it makes it seem more about the sadness that war causes than trying to rally against it. It doesn't have to be angry to get its point across. The emotion of the song does it on its own.