Selected Poems

5 Confusing Poems About Confusion You’ll Love

Last Updated: February 9, 2023

Confusion can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience, but it can also be a source of inspiration for poets. In literature, confusion can serve as a backdrop for exploring the complexities of the human condition, exposing the intricacies of the mind and the soul. In this article, we will delve into five poems that embrace the theme of confusion, showcasing the different ways poets use language to express the confusion they feel, both internally and in the world around them.

1. Being But Men by Dylan Thomas

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.

Being But Men presents the theme of the human struggle to find meaning and clarity in a chaotic and confusing world. The speaker and his companion are depicted as men walking into a forest, representing their journey through life, and the fear of making noise and waking the rooks symbolizes their confusion and uncertainty. The idea of wonder, like that of a child watching the stars, is presented as a way to find happiness and peace in life. Dylan Thomas illustrates the difficulty of finding meaning in a confusing world and the importance of retaining a sense of wonder even in adulthood.

Being But Men offers a lesson about the importance of retaining a sense of wonder and innocence in life, even in the face of confusion and uncertainty. It highlights the human struggle to find meaning in a chaotic world and suggests that a sense of wonder is what ultimately leads to happiness. The author reminds us to embrace the beauty and mystery of life and to never lose our sense of wonder, even as we navigate through its challenges.

2. Garbageman: The Man With The Orderly Mind by Gwendolyn Brooks

What do you think of us in fuzzy endeavor, you whose directions are

sterling, whose lunge is straight?

Garbageman: The Man with the Orderly Mind addresses a “garbageman” as an embodiment of order and organization, contrasting the speaker’s own “fuzzy endeavors.” The speaker’s struggle to apply the rules they have learned highlights the complexity of life and the challenges that come with navigating it. This struggle creates a sense of confusion and disorientation, as the speaker is unable to fully grasp the game they are playing. The poem’s tone is one of self-reflection, as the speaker wonders if their earnestness is enough to overcome their confusion.

Through Garbageman: The Man with the Orderly Mind, Gwendolyn Brooks explores the theme of confusion and the gap between understanding and action. The poem serves as a reminder that we all struggle with confusion at times, and that it’s important to recognize and address these moments of disorientation in order to be self-reflective and to look for ways to “dilute” confusion and bring clarity to our thoughts and actions.

3. A Doe Replaces Iphigenia on the Sacrificial Altar by Robyn Schiff

There was a need
to be weak and I met
it. I appeared in the confusion

In A Doe Replaces Iphigenia on the Sacrificial Altar, Robyn Schiff explores the idea of surrender and sacrifice. The speaker describes their own appearance as a result of a need to be weak, and seems to find themselves in a state of confusion between strength and surrender. The speaker is depicted as an animal, ruminating in sorrow and is placed on the sacred grass as if from nowhere. The poem seems to imply that despite the confusion, the speaker has found themselves in a moment of clarity and transcendence, as if in heaven.

The poem signifies the idea that confusion can be a normal part of growth and change, and that it can serve as a stepping stone to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world. Sometimes it is necessary to embrace the confusion and allow it to guide us toward growth and change, despite the risks and consequences that may come with it.

4. The Cold Heaven by William Butler Yeats

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,

William Butler Yeats experiences a sudden vision of the “cold and rook-delighting heaven,” which triggers a rush of memories and emotions, causing him to become overwhelmed with a sense of wonder and confusion. Death and memory can be sources of confusion, particularly when our experiences and memories conflict with our current understanding of the world. The speaker’s confusion arises from the sudden rush of memories brought back to life by the power of the imagination, causing them to question the role of death and the afterlife.

The Cold Heaven reminds us that our experiences and memories shape our understanding of the world and that they can sometimes trigger feelings of confusion and uncertainty. It suggests that by embracing confusion and exploring our memories, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

5. A Confusion Of Mixed Feelings Poem by David Taylor

In the outward movement of our senses
we revel in a range of tastes

A Confusion Of Mixed Feeling illustrates the idea that our senses can lead us to experience a range of tastes and enjoyments, but that these enjoyments only bring temporary satisfaction. It suggests that true happiness can only be found by letting go of our desires and wants and embracing a state of contentment. The speaker argues that our desire for external sources of satisfaction is an error, and that true happiness is revealed when we no longer feel the need for these things.

The lesson of the poem is that true happiness lies in letting go of our desires and embracing contentment. David Taylor suggests that when we let go of our wants and needs, we can find a deeper sense of satisfaction that does not rely on external factors. By letting go of our desires, we can find peace and happiness within ourselves and avoid the confusion that can arise from the mixed feelings of pleasure and desire.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, confusion is a common theme in poetry that can be expressed in a variety of ways. The five poems discussed in this article showcase how poets use different literary devices to convey the complex emotions that come with feeling unsure, overwhelmed, and disoriented. Whether it’s through vivid imagery, paradoxical statements, or introspective musings, they remind us that confusion is not always a negative experience, but rather an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and enlightenment.

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