By Branden Lewis
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Biography

Chappell was born on May 28, 1936 and raised in a small North Carolina town of Canton, where his father, James Taylor, was a furniture retailer. Chappell married Susan Nicholls on August 2, 1959. He went to work as a proofreader for Duke University Press in Durham and received a Bachelor's Degree from Duke University in 1961 for fiction writing. Chappell has written more than 25 books in a variety of genres, including at least 15 books of poetry, eight novels, and several volumes of short stories and criticism, as well as being a frequent contributor to the News and Observer on the subject of poetry.
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Narcissus and Echo

Shall the water not remember Ember
my hand's slow gesture, tracing above of
its mirror my half-imaginary airy
portrait? My only belonging longing
is my beauty, which I take ache
away and then return, as love of
of teasing playfully the one being unbeing.
whose gratitude I treasure Is your
moves me. I live apart heart
from myself, yet cannot not
live apart. In the water's tone, stone?
that brilliant silence, a flower Hour,
whispers my name with such slight light
moment, it seems filament of air, fare
the world become cloudswell. well.

The poem is based on the Greek Myth of narcissus who fell in love with his reflection because of Aphrodite, and echo who waned her life away and became nothing but an echo. The poem is pretty much the mythological story put into the form of a poem. Written in echo verse which means the last two words of each line rhyme. For example “water’s tone stone” stone is echo speaking rhyming with narcissus. Writing the poem in echo verse helps keep the original theme of the story. The poem is written in one long stanza. There are words in italics at the end of every line that are words from echo the other character from the mythical story. The sentence structure in this poem is short and the word choice is simple. There is also a lot of figurative language like personification. For example “shall the water not remember my hands slow gesture". Also there are similes like "my only belonging is my beauty, which I take away and then return, as love teasing playfully the one being whose gratitude I treasure moves me". The tone of the poem is calm and peaceful. The sentence "In the water's tone, that brilliant silence" gives off a peaceful feeling.

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Message

True.
The first messenger angel may arriv
purely clothed in terror, the form he takes
a swordblade of unbearable energies, making
the air he entered a spice of ozone.
And then, the mad inventories. Each force
of nature, each small animal and pretty bird,
is guilty with persistence. The tear of sorrow,
huge as an alien star, invades
our sun's little system.

Irrelevant,
such enormity: because the man is alone
and naked. Even the finely tenuous radiations
of the marauding star crush him like falling timbers.
The worst is, he must choose among sorrows
the one that destroys him most.

But see how all
changes in that hour. He ascends
a truer dimension of event, he feels with senses
newly evolved the wide horizons unknown till now.
He is transformed head to foot, taproot to polestar.

Message is a poem that refers to the end of time, death and resurrection in the eyes of a Christian. There is no rhyme scheme or set meter in the poem. There is word placement in the poem that does have a major effect on the poem like meter and rhyme scheme would. At the beginning of each stanza or paragraph there is a word that is placed away from the rest that is related to the theme of the poem. The poem contains a lot of imagery and symbolism. In the first paragraph there is a messenger angel who is purely clothed in terror. This is the first of many Christian references in the poem. This angel has great power and can cut through the air with his blade. Chappell compares the angel’s power to a huge alien star that invades the solar system. Chappell makes a contrast in the second stanza between humans and stars saying that even the smallest radiation from a star can crush a human. Also in the second stanza Chappell uses another Christian reference. He says that man has to choose among sorrows the one that destroys him most. This is refers to human beings sinning and determining the way we would like to destroy our salvation. There is also symbolism in the third paragraph with imagery of a resurrection. When Chappell says Man "ascends” towards the heavens in a new form of life from a taproot to a polestar. This would be the same as dying going to heaven and becoming an angel like most Christians are told that will happen.