Book report 4:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/53364/i-allow-myself

“I allow myself” by Dorothea Grossman. “I allow myself” is about her breakfast every morning, and how good it is, for instance “the eye-opening properties of eggs,” which is a sentence that brings to mind eggs. Perhaps fried ones, or diced ones, or even boiled eggs. It does this for every part of her breakfast, all to describe a point. This point being ‘Everyday you choose whether or not you do the thing you want to do, and if you stuff up the selection, the world will burn.’

The point of the poem is that everyday you must make the decision about what you will do each day. You could end up deciding to do nothing about what you enjoy and become depressed for the rest of the day, or you could do what you want to do, but then you get to watch your life crash down all around you. In any case, I will now analyse every part of the poem to see what each bit means, and how it connects to this overall point. And I will also mention multiple solutions to the problem of not being able to do what you enjoy because it is too destructive.

“I allow myself
the luxury of breakfast “
This is the first line of the poem, and also the title. The first line is talking about the person allowing themselves to do something, which can get rather difficult depending on what we are talking about. For instance, it could just be what you are going to eat for breakfast, and allowing yourself to choose something new, or it could be allowing yourself to go to sleep early, and not stay up late reading and stuff up your sleep schedule even more. These simple ,small decisions, are easy to make and won’t really cause anyone any kind of trouble, so they are easy to allow. But then there are the more difficult ones. For instance, perhaps you are depressed, and you just don’t want to care about anything anymore. However, it would be difficult to allow yourself to do that, since you’re supposed to care about things. So allowing yourself to stop caring and just accept that your mind is as it is, is difficult. Another one that would be seriously difficult for anyone would be enjoying something you enjoy, without holding back at all. Particularly when there are multiple small things in the way normally. I mean, everyday you will do the same thing, and always just ignore that one amazing thing you want to do because it is: too expensive, not possible, a treat for when you do something good, something you just aren’t allowed to do. And so, you allowing you to do that one thing would be difficult, even if you truly enjoy doing it. And let’s not even get into the whole ‘not allowed to express my enjoyment over doing something because it isn’t cool to do so.’
In short, the first line is describing how allowing yourself to do something is a conscious decision you have to make, and it is not always going to be an easy decision. And the second line is talking about how for the author of this poem has something she won’t let herself enjoy, which is, she won’t allow herself to enjoy a good breakfast. I can’t claim to know why she wouldn’t let herself enjoy breakfast, but that is how it is(Might have to do with religion, since she said the line “(I am no nun, for Christ’s sake)” which makes it seem like she use to be, which stopped her from having a good breakfast for whatever reason.)

“Charmed as I am
by the sputter of bacon,
and the eye-opening properties
of eggs,
it’s the coffee
that’s really sacramental.”
Just read all of those lines, imagine the breakfast in your head! Clearly, it is a good, no, a great one, something anyone can enjoy. And every part of it is important(Although she clearly likes her coffee more than the others), no part of her breakfast can be missed out.
This is what it means to be doing your favourite thing, truly enjoying yourself over the whole thing. And you can tell that she was, seeing as she was “charmed” by bacon, had her eyes opened by “the eye-opening properties of eggs”, and even thought that coffee is sacramental. All this is something that can only happen over something amazing to yourself, something you have to let yourself enjoy. And the important thing to notice here is that she is letting herself enjoy breakfast. She is doing the thing she enjoys, and she isn’t stopping herself from enjoying every bit of it. I wonder if you can do the same thing?
Basically, this part of the poem is describing what it is like to actually enjoy something in your life. My point from it is that I wanted to make sure that you as a reader knew what I meant when I talked about enjoying yourself. Without this, you might end up with the idea that just doing what you enjoy means that you are enjoying yourself. This isn’t the case. You have to actually ‘enjoy’ yourself, focus on every bit of it like the author did for her breakfast. That is what it means to enjoy yourself, so keep it in mind.

“In the old days,
I spread fires and floods and pestilence
on my toast.”
This quote is describing what it is like for those who think that the thing they enjoy is only a destructive past time, something they can’t do because it would damage everything. Perhaps they even did it anyway. And because of this, you can’t allow yourself to enjoy the thing you want to do since it would ruin your life, or perhaps it even has been already. This is a problem that is difficult to solve, I mean, how can you? Lets say, just as an example, that you as a person are fascinated with the idea of killing another person. You’re just so darn curious as to what it would be like. But you know that it would be a terrible idea, I mean, you would feel so guilty, or even if you didn’t, all of the legal problems! You can’t allow yourself to do something like that, what do you do afterwards? And then the next problem is figuring out what to do with your life, when the thing you really enjoy, is something you can never experience.
From the authors point of view, all this bad stuff is in the past, something that doesn’t need to be thought about anymore, and really, is all just a bad memory. We can see this when they say “In the old days,” which makes it seem like that this rather bad sounding piece of toast was only made before this poem was written. Which is a good way of thinking, as it allows you to stop caring about it and develop your own point of view.
Then there is my point of view on this quote, or at least, the idea of how to get past that feeling of not allowing yourself to do what you really want to do. The way I deal with it is to endure it. If you wait long enough, it has to disappear at some point, right?
Another solution is in the next paragraph and it appears to be a lot more constructive than my solution. You should probably go with that one. It would certainly have more of an effect than my one, and in a good way too.

“Nowadays, I’m more selective,
I only read my horoscope
by the quiet glow of the marmalade.”
And this quote describes the other solution I have come up with for this problem. And it follows the first line of the quote, “I’m more selective,” which is to say, she selects some parts of what she enjoys and focuses on that. Like with her breakfast. Instead of having all of that “I spread fires and floods and pestilence”, she’ll just have “by the quiet glow of the marmalade.” Which is still breakfast, just without the bad bits(If you like marmalade, and if you don’t, I would prefer a piece of food over a flood). And you can do this with other things too, like with the one I mentioned earlier. Just play a video game or something, it has plenty of killing in it and you don’t need to worry about the consequences. Basically, if you can’t let yourself enjoy something in life, find a different way to enjoy it.
Oh, and another thing I need to mention is how when she says selective, she is saying that she selects what to eat for breakfast each morning. There is a wide range of options to pick from, and she decides what it will be from all of them. So when you decide on how to divide up what you enjoy into something different that you can do, you can pick different parts of that for each day. Like, play a different video game each day or something. Basically, everyday you choose whether or not you will do the thing you want to do, or not. And now, everyday you can decide what part of what you enjoy to do. Like, for that person who just wants to kill something, well, they can play a different video game each day, and enjoy each one of them.

“I allow myself” by Dorothea Grossman is a interesting poem that describes the luxury of breakfast, and how it can often be difficult to enjoy something in life. We talked about how it can be difficult to always let yourself enjoy what you want to do. Then we talked about how the author could actually manage to enjoy what she did, in all of its full glory, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often these days. After that it was about different problems that could come up if you enjoy yourself, and a ‘solution’ to that problem. And finally, it was the solution the author came up, to select what you can enjoy, and enjoy it to the fullest, which sounds really helpful and like something I should start doing.
Thank you for reading this, and I guess I will recommend this poem to all people who have something in their lives that they refuse to let themselves enjoy, but are yet to even realize(Yeah, you might not of even noticed the fact that your holding yourself back from truly enjoying some things in your life. Honestly, you should have more fun in your life!)

One Comment

  1. A good response, Logan. Well done for including a number of quotations as supportive evidence and personal thoughts about this text.

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