Charles Simic is a Serbian-American poet born on May 9, 1938 in Belgrade which was then a part of Yugoslavia. Simic’s early days passed under the effects of the Second World War and he witnessed the effects of Nazism on people. At a very young age, Simic’s father had been captured by the Nazi officials but he managed to escape in the year 1944. Many of his poems such Death List are strongly influenced by the time he spent under the Nazi regime and on the horrors of the holocaust survivors. One of the first poem that Simic published was “What the Grass Says”, this was when he was in high school in USA. Later in 1990 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his collection of prose poetry.
Despite leading a good life, he tries to put himself in a situation where the people are trying to kill him and everyone has gone mad. His works also seem to have the same essence. He has always told that people are not grateful for being alive. This gratefulness of his towards life can be easily explained by the fact that he has seen people die right in front of his eyes while he was in Yugoslavia, and that was at a very young age. It has often been seen that whatever you do in your childhood or whatever you see then remains with you throughout your life and this what has happened with Simic. In his poems he sees everything that is wonderful with a sense of doubt but at the same time, he is also very grateful and thankful towards the almighty for all the good things in his life.
If we take the example of ‘The Storm’, one of his best works, we would come to know the sense of fear exists so deep in his heart that it is reflected on the paper as well. He talks about the silence of the afternoon in the last line of his first stanza which again displays the fact that the surroundings are unaware of the coming storm, and everything is so nice and quiet but little does the garden know about the coming storm. In these lines he is also trying to show his feelings about his dad as how without any notice he was captured and sent to exile. In the similar way the storm is also very cruel, it does not let anybody or anything feel its presence or notice it until it turns into its most devastating form.
But despite the fact that an oncoming doesn’t let us know anything about it, the birds and the animal can sense its presence, these image has been portrayed by him in the lines
“The sky keeps being blue,
Though we hear no birds,
See no butterflies among the flowers
Or ants running over our feet.” (The Virginia quarterly review, Spring 2008)
In the first line the image being formed is of a person who is looking at the sky but cannot feel thing that might be considered different from normal days. If we relate it to his childhood, then we can see that when the Nazi regime was coming the Jews couldn’t sense what was coming towards them and they saw it as yet another change of government. In the second line of the above stanza, he tries to portray the silence before the storm. The birds don’t chirp or the butterflies are not to be seen anywhere near the flowers. This explains that some change in the atmosphere is there which we the social creatures can’t feel but can be felt by the animals or the birds through their sixth sense.
In these lines we can also how his stanzas of the poem are progressive and tell about the coming lines, the clear blue skies and the silence of the birds is enough to tell that despite there is nothing abnormal happening right now, nothing is normal. As if it were the case then the ants would have been moving around in search of the food. So, this reflects that in the next stanza or so, there is something abnormal that is...