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Application For A Driving License

Michael Ondaatje

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Application For A Driving License
Added by: catalun
The sum and substance of this grim littlle poem is, "life goes on."

But when the writer says, "continuing while I drove over them", we are left to ask, how -- concentrating on his driver's test --- could he possibly know? Even as a licensed driver, how much could he has seen through his rear-view mirror unless travelling at glacial speed?

In short, the poem is a false conceit, a sad fabrication.

-- Cat
Added by: Andrew
I dont agree that it is *necessarily* a fabricated experience. The driver could be mesmerised by seeing the birds, doesnt concentrate on avoiding them and runs them down. Everything happens to fast The last line is then just bravado. The fact that he/she recalls the experience implies that it isnt insignificant to them, even if they claim indifference.
Added by: TAD
This poem isn't about life going on, it's a joke. Pure and simple. Ondaatje often uses humor in his poetry, as can be seen in the Elimination Dance (Interlude) within his book, "The Cinnamon Peeler," or the poem directly preceeding the interlude. He often finds humor in things and incorportates that into his poetry. This poem is a joke. It's an idea he clearly had, or something that he heard. What if you were driving along the road during your driving test and you ran over a bird? Well, at least you kept your concentration on the road. How bad a driver can you be? It's a simple moment, reminiscent of the haiku, which reveals itself when you finish reading the poem and realize the joke that the title brings.
Added by: Morgan
This poem was a delightful suprise neatly boxed and wrapped. This is one of those that should not be over-analyzed. Innocent nature is in the wrong place at the wrong time- The egocentrism of our species from a funny side angle. Refreshing, humorous and one that will stick in my mind for a long time to come as a little savory bite.
Added by: Sara
Actually this poem didn't strike me as funny at all. Two red birds making love? What true poet wouldn't be moved by such a show? I mean, birds in general are already the eternal victims of symbolism- forget two of them making love in a vibrant passion of red, and the fact that the author continued driving, presumably michael ondaatje himself since the poem is in the first person, remains unaffected by his having run them over, I think is demonstration of the intrusion of a practical world on our ability to feel. I don't know, but that's the way i felt when I first read the poem so you can't say I'm over-analyzing it!
Added by: Michel
Perhaps he could mean the birds continued making love as he drove over them. (Without actually killing or hitting them)The fact that the birds did not fly away or try to escape as the car approached would indicate that he should have been shocked. I guess this is simply differnet way of reading it. In this case it would again simply be humor. Great poem regardless.
Added by: cp
Did he actually RUN over the birds and smash them with his wheel? It does say RODE over them and they continued, like he just directed his wheels around them. Maybe it means he didn't spend a lot of time watching in the rearview mirror being distracted by the birds behind him, as in he didn't stop to notice the beauty, so intent was he on driving.
Added by: irma
I think the birds are red BECAUSE he drove over them.
Added by: Marc
I think that the birds making love and continuing even after he rides over them is saying that true love doesn't stop and get destroyed of things outside of the two "love birds"

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