I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Okay, off we go, Shmoopers. Thanks to the catchy title here, we can be pretty sure that we're headed into a discussion of illegal fireworks—oh wait, we mean… poetry (way more fun, and way more legal). So, what about it?
Well, our speaker is not having it. Aha, but what might "it" be? It's not clear yet, but one thing's for sure: "it" is not winning any popularity contests in the near future.
How would we know? She (and we're just assuming that the speaker's a she at this point, since we have nothing else to go on yet) is agreeing about her dislike with… someone. Is it us? Do we hate "it," too? If "it" is lemon juice in our paper cuts, then yes. We dislike that to the max.
But why all the dislike, speaker? As it turns out, there are tons more important things in the world than whatever this thing is.
This stuff, she says, is just "fiddle." And she's not talking about that country violin that folks play in their jug bands, either. She's using a figurative expression to mean just a useless pile of odds and ends. Just go check out your school locker. See all that fiddle in there? Are you really going to need that broken Hello Kitty zipper pouch? Time to get cleaning, Shmoopers.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
it after all, a place for the genuine.
We're starting to get more clarity on what "it" might be. It seems like "it" is something you'd be able to read. Given that, and given the pretty obvious title, we're going to conclude that our speaker is talking about… (wait for it) poetry. We know; Sherlock Holmes would be proud. So, our speaker is down on poetry. Yeah, incredibly hard for us to believe, too. Like you, we think that poetry is the best thing since sliced bread, and in some cases way better (we're looking at you, Wonderbread).
Still, somehow our speaker can read it with "perfect contempt," a flawless kind of hatred that must mean she's just super-down on poetry… unless…
We say "unless" because of that "however" in line 3. So, sure she's drinking mad Haterade about poetry, but it seems like there may be a saving grace.
And it turns out that this saving grace is the fact that "one" (whoever that might be, usually just an abbreviation to mean "someone" or "anyone") can find "a place for the genuine" in poetry.
Well, that sounds like a good thing to us. It's like a prize at the bottom of a cereal box, only instead of cereal we're reading poetry. And instead of a plastic doohickey, we find something real (genuine), not fake or useless.
It's not clear what that might be, but it seems like maybe our speaker is not so full of dislike as we first thought. Let's read on for more on this genuine article…
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a
Nope—sorry. We're not talking about this genuine thing in poetry might be, but rather the effects it might have if and when you come across it.
Let's see: we have grasping hands, dilating eyes (where the pupils grow wide), and rising hair. So, it's a pretty safe bet that this genuine thing is light socket into which you stick your finger. This experience sounds pretty electrifying if you ask us. And that seems to be a good thing. There are, it turns out, things in poetry that can affect you with as much force as an electric current—zap.
Notice how the speaker focuses on the physical parts of a person to communicate this shocking experience. We call that technique in the poetry biz synecdoche, where the part (hands, eyes, hair) represents the whole (a person).
Notice, too, that the "hair can rise / if it must" (7-8). This turn of phrase does a couple of things. First, it shows us that the speaker has a kind of wry sense of humor. We don't usually imagine hair being lazy—or having any kind of feelings at all,