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The Dead Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 10

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A good man is seized by the police
and spirited away. Months later
someone brags that he shot him once
through the back of the head
with a Walther 7.65, and his life
ended just there. Those who loved
him go on searching the cafés
in the Barrio Chino or the bars
near the harbor. A comrade swears
he saw him at a distance buying
two kilos of oranges in the market
of San José and called out, "Andrés,
Andrés," but instead of turning
to a man he'd known since child-
hood and opening his great arms
wide, he scurried off, the oranges
tumbling out of the damp sack, one
after another, a short bright trail
left on the sidewalk to say,
Farewell! Farewell to what? I ask.
I asked then and I ask now. I first
heard the story fifty years ago;
it became part of the mythology I
hauled with me from one graveyard
to another, this belief in the power
of my yearning. The dead are every-

where, crowding the narrow streets
that jut out from the wide boulevard
on which we take our morning walk.
They stand in the cold shadows
of men and women come to sell
themselves to anyone, they stride
along beside me and stop when I
stop to admire the bright garlands
or the little pyramids of fruit,
they reach a hand out to give
money or to take change, they say
"Good morning" or "Thank you," they
turn with me and retrace my steps
back to the bare little room I've
come to call home. Patiently,
they stand beside me staring out
over the soiled roofs of the world
until the light fades and we are
all one or no one. They ask for
so little, a prayer now and then,
a toast to their health which is
our health, a few lies no one reads
incised on a dull plaque between
a pharmacy and a sports store,
the least little daily miracle.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Nice way to look at it, yet I do find that a blog post or something that's for other peolpe but not peolpe in your personal life is quite freeing in that same way. I think writing for yourself must free a person up in some ways, but someone like me will never write anything if it's just for myself, so I think the audience somehow frames the purpose of the exercise. But then, I am a person who prefers to work within the restrictions of an ugly old house to renovate it into something new and more functional, rather than building from scratch. Thought-provoking post. x x

| Posted on 2014-03-04 | by a guest

.: :.

Your Flickr experiment is quite bueutifal. You've inspired me to play, too. I had no idea something like this could be done. I especially like that typeface (and, oh yes, did I mention the poem?)

| Posted on 2014-03-03 | by a guest

.: :.

The poem feels like a short narrative on a truaamtic incident in a child’s life. Despite the poem being very short with only four stanzas, it’s very vivid and detailed about a particular moment. It seems like the length of the writing piece matches with the pace of event as well. The feelings you get from it are very negative and terrifying to a point. In lines 9-10 [ “The hand held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle;” ] and lines 13-14 [“ You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt”] described a violent scene that the narrator is experiencing on the household. The narrator tells a story of a violent struggle with “pans slid from the kitchen shelf” , and how he or she hangs “on like death” or clinging on to the abuser’s shirt. With the first line about the whiskey on the person breath that the character is facing, just gives off the message to the reader that something terrible will happen, and with the common thinking of alcohol and violence being grouped up frequently, and especially with domestic violence. It really changes the whole meaning of a “waltz” with a person. The term “waltz” is usually thought of as a happy dance, but in the actual poem, the dance is of struggle and fighting between people. The title addresses the “papa” and with the second line discussing about a small boy, just gives the image of a small boy struggling with his abusive drunk father. The child that is speaking tells of how the fight ends with him being sent off to bed by the means of clinging on to the abusive father. This I feel indicates that the child is strong and has dealt with this before and with lines 7-8, the young narrator described how unhappy his mother is with the incident occurring; which I feel must be pretty often too. It’s a striking poem that draws out the emotions and thoughts that the child is experiencing in a violent environment and possibly many times beforehand. It talks about a real thing in life that is terrible, that really does happen, and allowing readers to be aware of it.

| Posted on 2014-03-03 | by a guest

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