Flashing by Lewis Warsh directs the reader to make the most of life, enjoy those small moments and take everything as it comes. Imperfection must be loved as it is what you are experiencing. Find the positive moments, enjoy the everyday tasks, and make the most of your time on earth.
Focusing on the everyday events of life and the objects surrounding each person (their apartment, bed, books, music), Flashing by Lewis Warsh tells the reader to make the most of everything. Beginning with the imperfect bedroom, the ‘cracks’ in walls, and things that aren’t the best quality, you must learn to love it all. Understand that being able to sit on your bed and read is a fantastic thing. Enjoy the rain, watch it pour, and take everything in. Warsh urges the reader to ‘Light’ up their lives, use connections and knowledge to flood their life with positivity. When experiencing something, why take a negative stance, the event won’t change either way – make the most of it, be positive.
You can read the full poem here.
Warsh splits Flashing into 12 lines, the poem being one continuous stanza. This unbroken structure could be a reflection of life itself, continuing always and not segregated into individual moments, it is just a long stream of time. In writing within one stanza, Warsh suggests that all these images blur into one, the passing of time being just as important as the moments themselves. Warsh could be arguing that life passes you by quickly, you must make the most of everything while it lasts. The continuous stanza could also be a representation of the short nature of life, a whole life contained within the verse with the external space surrounding the poem being symbolic of everything that comes afterward – Warsh pointing to the transcience of life.
One major technique that Warsh uses when writing Flashing is enjambment. Every line within the poem, including the final one, uses enjambment. In doing this, the poem speeds up metrically, flitting through idea after idea in quick succession. It seems that Warsh wants to emphasize how quickly life happens, moment after moment coming and going in an instant. Alike the overall structure of the poem, in using enjambment he is suggesting the speed in which life happens, and urging the reader to make the most of it.
Another technique that Warsh employs when writing Flashing is using the semantics of light. Light inherently will come and go, think of the moment from day to night. Even the title, Flashing, has the suggestion of a movement from light to dark and back again. This could be a reference to the change from day to night, happening infinitely until your end, or it could be discussing moments flashing before the poet’s eyes, recounting instances in his life.
Love the cracks on the walls
Stand under the porch roof and watch the downpour
The poem begins with an imperative command, ‘Love the cracks on the walls’. By beginning the poem with a command, Warsh implies a tone of instruction and teaching – indeed, he wants to tell the reader how to make the most of their life. The focus on ‘Love’ as the first word in the poem emphasizes a sense of happiness and joy. Warsh wants us to be positive and therefore tells us to ‘Love’ as much as we can.
The focus on ‘cracks’ brings an idea of imperfection to the poem. Warsh argues that something doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be loved. In this case, it is ‘your apartment’, your space to do whatever you want with, and therefore you should ‘Love’ the imperfections because they are yours. This can be applied to many areas of life and is a neat metaphor to construct this idea at the beginning of the poem.
The focus on ‘electric light’ has a suggestion of the unnatural. Again this could be referencing something that isn’t perfect. Although ‘light, in its raw quality, is inherently beautiful, even ‘electric light’ is something to praise. While it may not be perfect, it is good enough to celebrate.
Warsh continues to focus on the imagery of ‘light’ within the early lines of the poem. A ‘bolt of lightning’ seems to illuminate the sky, the awesome power of nature being present at this moment in the poem. The bliss of a hot ‘June night’ is combined with the spectacular ‘thundershower’ is incredibly exciting, Warsh demonstrating that the world we live in is beautiful and worth appreciating.
Walk to the room you sleep in and lie down, take off your shoes
Lighting up the apartment like a star
These lines shift from external ideas of the beauty of nature into an internal scene within the house. Warsh commands the reader to ‘walk to the room you sleep in and lie down’, the comfortable atmosphere he evokes through ‘lie down’ being furthered through the location of the bedroom.
Warsh suggests that there are many different forms of entertainment one can have, spanning across ‘radio, play records, read the newspaper’. Whatever one decides will make them happy at that moment is perfect, the key thing is that you must remember that you are doing this for yourself. Even the idea that one has total self-autonomy is something that Warsh believes must be celebrated. To be comfy in your own space, doing exactly what you want to do is a celebration of the generic experience of life – although it may not be crazy exciting at the moment, the sheer control and independence you have over your life is something incredible.
After you become ‘tired of reading’, Warsh suggests that ‘let them out’, all of those ‘lines of print’, discussing and conveying the ideas and notions you have just read. Here, Warsh could be commenting on literature, the idea that it is best when discussed, and shared with others being the core concept towards the end of Flashing.
The syntax of the final two lines emphasize ‘heaven’ and ‘star’, these two words being the final images presented within Flashing. Both positive images with connotations of light, Warsh urges the reader to make the most of their life. Be positive about everything you can, make the most of your time, and do what makes you happy. In doing this, you will begin ‘lighting up’ the world, spreading happiness wherever you go.