For the poem “a smile”, my initial reaction is that the work is very confusing. There is no rhyme scheme nor stanza form, so the entire work seems very inconsistent. This also gives me the reaction of the extreme complexity of the poem. Since there is no rhyme scheme nor stanza form, it is very “busy”.
Throughout the poem, I conjured many questions as to what exactly the poet is speaking of or about. Why is the poet so negative? Especially at the end? Why does the end of the poem seem more negative than the rest? Does the mood of the poem go from peaceful to hopeless? Why is the poet such a “Debby-downer”?
I think this poem is about someone being left by their lover, or a loved one such as :girlfriend, mother, friend etc. This is what I believe because at the begging of the poem the author seems peaceful and describing something joyful. Then as the poem goes on he becomes negative and describes negative things. He also talks of paying a price. This price being a smile which I assume is a symbol.
I think the allusions you need to know to understand this poem better is the allusions within the second stanza. These allusions include:
But who are we to question fate
when we are but a cog.
The dynamo of night1 goes on,
no stars, just us and fog.
I think this poem is very important in understanding the entire work as a whole better because, the first line in the second stanza in my opinion suggests that you cannot control fate. Therefor he is telling the reader, your life will play out however fate wants it to play out. The third line is saying but life goes on, no matter how resentful it may be. And the fourth line is saying, it may not be glamorous, but it will go on. The second to last stanza is also very important in the understanding of the meaning of this poem.
The stage is set; now time will see:
To do to don’t but never try.
We must go on, we must be strong.
The last line in this poem is saying, “yeah you’re life is miserable now, but you have to keep living, and live life to the fullest.”