In the poem “Red Shift”, Ted Berrigan suggests that the views and memories of a person is a very complex and interesting thought process because it changes the person’s personality through events. Berrigan uses other poets’ style of writing to create the complex mind of the speaker. He integrates some aspects of himself through the poem to show an individual taking shape in his poem. The poem, “Red Shift” shows subjects of private matters and events that Berrigan mostly write about and gives off intense emotions. He shows complex emotion and thoughts through fragments, short phrases, contents, and run-on sentence.
At the beginning, Berrigan used Frank O’Hara’s style on the first three lines to show the setting. The setting takes place near the end of winter, so it gives of a sad impression. It is because winter gives a sense of coldness and the feeling of death and from line 6, the speaker started to reminisce the past. In line 7, Berrigan used words that represent sorrow and death. In that line, it says that “…Frank disappearing in the air,” which shows sorrow and death because for someone to actually disappear means that they are dead or their physical being is no long there. It can also mean that the memory of the person begins to disappear from the world. Line 7 also shows a part of Berrigan because Berrigan know a person named Frank. The Frank that Berrigan refers to in the poem is the deceased Frank O’Hara. It gives an intense sorrow feeling in that part of the poem.
Berrigan states the memory 20 years back. From lines 11 to 16, it shows the emotions of graceful affection. In the lines 11 and 12, it shows the relationship of a man and a “smiling attentive woman” and the thoughts from the man. To show the affectionate feeling in this memory, Berrigan used small phrases and fragments. From lines 14 to 16, they are filled with phrases of “love, children, hundred of them, money, marriage-ethics, a politics of grace” and other. From those two lines, the speaker speak as if nothing is concealed or hidden and tells of passion of love, children, and money and grace. In line 15, the phrase of “hundreds of them” seems to refer to the children. All the words show a deep passion. Lines 17 and 18 changed the emotion to a bit of despair by the words of “burning even or still, now more than ever…” It shows that something is burning away. It is similar to line 23. From line 19 to22 and 24 to 28, the speaker speaks of duty. Berrigan use the phrase of “both vanish into the thin air we signed up for” in lines 25 and 26 as a sign of obligation and as ones will and choice. Berrigan also used the phrase, “will never leave” in line 27 as if the speaker and the connection cannot end. From line 29, the speaker became contradictive and indecisive. Berrigan used this move to make the character’s thought indistinguishable if the speaker is think in certain way or another. In line 29 and 30, the speaker said when he would die and he said he “will never die” make it hard to figure out if he is thinking of his last days or if he is trying to live past death by will. It shows a bit of anger and superiority. From line 31 to line 37, the speaker talks with superiority. In the last two lines, it becomes indecisive again. It is contradictive to line 32 to33. It makes the speaker again indistinguishable.
From this poem, it shows how the mind is very vast and complex. One thought can change another thought of the person. Events affect how the person thinks next. Each thought lead to another chain of thoughts .As the thoughts change, so is the emotion of the person. People’s thought cannot understand easily.