(How Poems Work, February 2004)
At 60 words, including title, “The Mole”; exemplifies poetry’s potential for compression. On the surface, this is a simple bit of verse, a brief encomium to an unlikely animal hero, but P.K. Page invests the mole’s activities with a significance that compels the reader to unearth deeper layers of meaning.
In the first line, Page employs language that pushes the reader beyond the literal sense of the poem. Instead of a simple “tunnel,” “[t]he mole goes down the slow dark personal passage.” This metaphor–its archetypal status reinforced by the definite article “the,” instead of the less specific “a” binds the mole to other travellers in the physical world and the less tangible realms of psyche and language (“passage” connoting a means of transit, a segment of text and, encompassing all possible meanings, life’s journey). Thus, the mole is a stand-in for the poet/artist, who navigates a solitary life in the midst of others with the help of language and imagination; or, less specifically, for anyone who struggles to understand their personal place in the often unfathomable darkness of the world….