‘Survival’, like many of my sonnets, arranges clauses in atypical orders. Poetic licence presents the opportunity to arrange clauses in ways that would seem incorrect in prose. For example, in the first quatrain, the speaker will “suffocate” with the “awful weight” of the “absence” of their desire’s love. But instead of using following the prosaic convention of arranging this thought in logical order (I will suffocate without your love), this thought is peppered throughout the quatrain. In the second quatrain, the speaker declares they will “die of thirst” in the first line. The object of this ‘sentence’ is presented in the fourth line of the quatrain: “without the source of you”.
Arranging clauses in atypical orders, and threading meaning throughout compound and complexes sentences, can befuddle. It can make it more difficult to decipher meaning. In the week when I was sad to hear of the passing of Meat Loaf, a stalwart of my teenage discos, the BBC has explained what he would not do “for love”. In 1998, Meat Loaf told VH1 the confusion over this phrase came from a misunderstanding of the structure of the song. The answer was there all along… appearing two lines earlier than the line “but I won’t do that”, every time he sang it.
Survival You are the air I breathe, I’ll suffocate Lungs veined with pain as if in acid dipped Chest crushed by you vacuum, the awful weight Of your absence leaving lone me blue-lipped. You are my eau-de-vie, I’ll die of thirst Lips slashed as if by imps with vicious knives Light head like a grenade about to burst Without the source of you that me revives. You are my sustenance, my fuel wellspring, I weaken quick, my limbs turn limp as foam My stomach screams as hunger hornets sting When you empty the cupboards of my home. I’ll suffocate, thirst, starve without your near Losing your life support’s my greatest fear.