“And order making, committees taking charge, foreigners / command out by boat.”
The final two lines of the second stanza of I are so strikingly interesting because they suggest order is manufactured (or made) thing. Ruckeyser is referring to order, as she refers to similar processes in The Book of the Dead, as a process that can be manufactured.
At the end of fifth stanza in the second section (II), the poem asks the question, “but where’s its place now; where is poetry?” I think perhaps the sixth stanza at least attempts to answer this question with the lines, “Exterminating wish; they forced the door, / lifted the rifle, broke the garden window, / removed only the drawings: cross and wrath. / Whenever we think of these, the poem is, / that week, the beginning, exile / remembered in continual poetry.” The seventh stanza tries to further answer this question with, “The poem is the fact.”
I picked up on two major themes through Mediterranean. One theme is the use of the “image” or the reflected image. The other being the ways in which Rukeyser positions herself (more specifically creates distance) within the poem. In the first section (I) we get Rukeyser’s description of the city, “I saw the city, sunwhite flew on glass / trucewhite from window.” Here Rukeyser is taking a step back in the way in which she is describing the city. She is positioning herself as outside, looking in. Perhaps she is positioning herself as witness. In this first section we also see Rukeyser referencing “the image” in the line, “I see this man, dock, war, a latent image.” Moving into the second section (II), in the sixth stanza we get the lines, “They smashed only the image / madness and persecution.” Here, I sense the image is being presented as something separate from reality. In this section we also again see Rukeyser creating a sense of distance as she positions herself within the poem. Turning to the seventh stanza, “There, pointed a Belgian, I heard a pulse of war, / sharp guns while I ate grapes in the Pyrenees.” The second to last section of the poem (V) returns to the line, “I see this man, dock, war, a latent image.” Later in the same section, we see the line “Once the fanatic image shown, / enemy to enemy, / past and historic peace wear thin.” This section is interesting for the tense shift that occurs at the beginning between present and past tense. The “I see” of the non italicized section is complimented four lines down with, “I saw Europe break apart.” Perhaps this is another tactic Rukeyser uses to position herself in strategic ways within the poem.