“The Star-Gazer” is modeled loosely on the Old English poem “The Wife’s Lament.” This medieval elegiac composition expresses beautifully the tensions that attend unrequited or abandoned love. It is awkward: there are clearly contrasting sentiments for the absent lover. It is frustrated and distressed: the reasons for the lover’s truancy are unclear to the reader, and presumably to The Wife. It is confused: The Wife does not understand why her partner has put physical and emotional distance between them, and the nature-imagery reflects how open-ended heartbreak can suspend, or even immobilize, personal growth. In my composition, I experiment with the possibility that "The Wife’s Lament" describes not a physical absence but an inexplicable change in the relationship that feels like a sudden and acute disconnect. “The Star-Gazer” is a story of a creative-romantic partnership that undergoes a similar transformation. The narrator and lover here are outcast – or dis/placed – individuals, and this creates an affinity between the two. This affinity is embedded in the idea that they are dreaming and creating simultaneously and constructively. They create a space to claim beyond the reach of others: something new, unexplored, yet safe in that it was made by and for them only. The space is imagined to be located outside of this world, but this also is an illusion; as the poem progresses, the space is re-figured as a fragile egg or bubble inside of, and vulnerable to, the physical world.
The Hilltop Review: Vol. 12:
2, Article 17.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol12/iss2/17