Though this poem does not have many characters, the speaker does address a "you" in this poem. This person first appears in Stanza III: "Not mine. / Or yours, if you are the soul I had / and abandoned when I was blind and had / my enemies carry me as a dead man" (lines 14-7). The identity of this person is uncertain, but it seems as if the speaker knew this person from a past life and had some sort of emotional connection with them. This person appears again in Stanza V: "You will, lost soul, say / 'beauty'" (lines 29-30). This again implies a close relationship with the speaker. How else would the speaker know what the soul will say at some future point without knowing the soul very well? The "you" returns again a bit later: "They chant at my heels. Not at yours" (line 34). There is a clear separation between the emotional and physical status of the speaker and that of this other person the speaker is addressing.
Some scholars believe that this other person is the speaker himself in a past life before he began to experience the body/soul rift that he experiences in the poem. Other people believe that the "you" could be addressing the contemporary reader of the poem, who is just as lost as the speaker is in the fraught political landscape of the 1960s. Even though the speaker understands this person, they are completely separate and the other person will never experience the trials that the speaker goes through.
An Agony. As Now Questions and Answers
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