On the broken mountain,
with the ocean,
and all those dead,
where the waves cease,
and the plague hides,
piles of iron,
flows of iron,
and silence lay.
This poem is about a person who was beaten and left in an alley at night. The negativity of the scene pervades the imagery in the poem. Here is a line by line explanation:
On the broken mountain – The person is lying on the stone ground. The stones, at some stage, were broken off mountains.
with the ocean – Where the person is, the ground is wet with water. This has run off from different places. This water, at some stage, came from the ocean.
and all those dead – Along with the water, there is oil on the ground. This too has run off from different places. This oil is made of dead plants and animals.
where the waves cease – The person is in darkness as it is night and they are in an alley. Light can be described as waves and particles. The idea that there is no light there (or rather very little) is described as the waves ceasing. This imagery ties back to the imagery of the ocean from before.
and the plague hides – In the alley, there are rats hiding. Rats, at one point and in some places, carried plague.
broken beams – This line marks a transition in the poem. The lines before this described the alley. This marks the start of describing the person. The person has broken ribs after being beaten. The person is like a toppled building. The toppled building would have broken steel beams. This is used metaphorically to describe the person’s ribs.
piles of iron – The person is bruised. Bruises, as far as M. Sakran understands, are where blood vessels have been broken. Blood has iron in it. The bruises are described as piles of iron.
flows of iron – In addition to having bruises, the person is bleeding. The person’s flowing blood is described as flows of iron.
empty windows – The person is unconscious. Their eyes could be described as windows. Because of their unconsciousness, the windows are described as being empty.
and silence lay – The person is silent.
The poem combines negative nature imagery with negative industrial imagery to describe the scene.
Some interesting points about the poem, relate to some things that are left out. For example, the gender of the person in the poem is never mentioned. Readers may have imagined one gender or the other. Second, the age of the person is not said. Again, readers may have had a picture of the age of the person in their mind. Third and fourth, the race and social class of the person are not mentioned.
In another interesting point, the reason for what happened is not said. The person is described as being beaten and the scene is describe as being negative. Readers may have taken this to mean the person was a victim (and in actuality, that was the intent). However, the status of the person in relation to what happened is never actually said. It could have been, that the person was the bad one in the poem, and that they attacked someone else, who then fought back, causing the result in the poem. Or, the person could have been on equal moral standing with someone else. Maybe this was the result of a fight, as opposed to an attack. These ideas are never explicitly addressed in the poem or the explanation that preceded this part.
P.S. Did you know that M. Sakran has an eBook of poems with explanations? It is true. It is called Understanding: poems with explanations. If you liked this poem with explanation, you might consider purchasing a copy of the book.