We all have the desire to control our destiny but the degree to which we are able to manifest that desire concretely is, ironically, not under our control. Thomas Lux’s poem, Wife hits moose describes the story of a wondering moose colliding with a wife driving through a forest road during dusk. The author’s third person recall of the incident creates a detached, ironic tone and outlines to the audience that the author has little at stake or control over the situation. Lux effectively uses the last stanza in his poem to prompt the reader to consider the chance of such an encounter and as to whether it was contributed to by a supreme intelligence or just random chance.
The poem is written in four stanzas with a register of seven lines a stanza. Each stanza describes a different stage of the collision. From an introductory, tranquil scene of both moose and wife, then a detailed description of the collision and the aftermath, ending with the speaker pondering on the chance of such an event and if a supreme intelligence was involved.
The speaker’s use of “sometime” in the opening stanza allows him to detach himself from the collision and also highlights that he has no stake over the outcome of the crash. The speaker sketches a tranquil atmospheric scene through terms such as “moose”, “highway” and “forest”. The terms also highlight that the event could of happened in any location that has a “moose”, “Highway” or “forest”; this is purposely done to make the audience think about the chances of such an event happening, which brings forward the theme of supreme intelligence or a controller of fate. Lux characterizes the moose as an unassuming animal, however he personifies it as thinking for itself in the quote “decides the day, for him is done.” This develops the idea of supreme intelligence; if the moose decides the day is over, then it must have a minor thought process, which means that, it could believe in a supreme intelligence.
In line five the speaker switches focus to the wife driving the car and in doing so creates suspense as the audience is reminded of the crash between wife and moose. Throughout each stanza the poet shifts the focus his focus from wife to moose and in doing so creates a crosscutting film like atmosphere which only heights the anticipation the audience feels and also foreshadows that the two are on an unavoidable collision course into each other’s existence. The ‘blacktop’ and ‘pineforest’ are symbolic of both the wife driving the car and the moose, furthermore, both “blacktop” and “pineforest” are made up of two individual words but together; this could symbolize that both the wife and moose have two separate identities, a spiritual and personal identity. The extract “pineforest and blacktop/blend” foreshadows the potentially catastrophic encounter between the two and leaves the audience anticipating the collision. The theme of nature vs man is also present in this extract, blacktop is manmade and pineforest is natural, and when the two combine catastrophe will follow.
The register of the language in lines 15-19 recalls that of a police report, detached and straightforward. The use of the ellipsis in “wife/ hits moose, hard// at slight angle” causes both the speaker and reader to hold their breath as in anticipation, creating a suspenseful atmosphere, further engaging the reader in the text. The ending two lines of the third stanza are unexpected; it doesn’t follow the enjambment before it, in effect this slows down the reader and brings to light the factor that both parties are safe and “unhurt”. This is somewhat ironic considering the nature of the crash and the fact that the “diamond tipped” antlers of the moose merely scratch the surface of the windshield and didn’t penetrate though the windshield to kill or injure the wife inside. A supreme intelligence must therefore be involved in the matters concerning the crash.
The final stanza is much like that of a question and answer, the speaker aims a question at each one of the characters (moose, wife and speaker) and answers them by himself, yet when it comes to the question “Does speaker believe in a Supreme Intelligence?” he answers with a straight forward “Yes” and “thank you” which outlines to the reader that the poet is a man of faith. The way the poet Capitalizes the terms “Supreme Intelligence” further highlights the he is a man of faith and that he has respect for the Supreme Intelligence.
Supreme Intelligence is a key theme in Thomas Lux’s poem Wife hits moose. He effectively compares random chance to the supreme intelligence though the use of poetic techniques and forces the audience to ponder on the thought of there being a supreme intelligence.
Courtney from Study Moose
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