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What Work Is Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 13

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We stand in the rain in a long line

waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.

You know what work is--if you're

old enough to read this you know what

work is, although you may not do it.

Forget you. This is about waiting,

shifting from one foot to another.

Feeling the light rain falling like mist

into your hair, blurring your vision

until you think you see your own brother

ahead of you, maybe ten places.

You rub your glasses with your fingers,

and of course it's someone else's brother,

narrower across the shoulders than

yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin

that does not hide the stubbornness,

the sad refusal to give in to

rain, to the hours wasted waiting,

to the knowledge that somewhere ahead

a man is waiting who will say, "No,

we're not hiring today," for any

reason he wants. You love your brother,

now suddenly you can hardly stand

the love flooding you for your brother,

who's not beside you or behind or

ahead because he's home trying to

sleep off a miserable night shift

at Cadillac so he can get up

before noon to study his German.

Works eight hours a night so he can sing

Wagner, the opera you hate most,

the worst music ever invented.

How long has it been since you told him

you loved him, held his wide shoulders,

opened your eyes wide and said those words,

and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never

done something so simple, so obvious,

not because you're too young or too dumb,

not because you're jealous or even mean

or incapable of crying in

the presence of another man, no,

just because you don't know what work is.


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

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eva EVA evvvahhh EFUH 24/7 BAKED. dealah cheeee kumu lani. FAHKHA LIKE BANG COZ i go catch em outside rajah dat. no hold back. dat fakah needs dealz ah? I GOT DEALZ BRAH. PERIOD.

| Posted on 2017-04-27 | by a guest

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Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe

| Posted on 2015-08-11 | by a guest

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I love this poem because many people can relate to it. The job waiting is what everyone is doing now. Life is kind of a drag according to this poem. Also, it means that we shouldn\'t take our family for granted. He talks about how he misses his brother. \"When was the last time you hugged your brother and kissed him and told him you loved him?\" Very great poem.

| Posted on 2011-11-04 | by a guest

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This poem is obviously is about waiting for something that might not be there, and the relationships you sacrifice doing so.

| Posted on 2010-08-28 | by a guest

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fo eva eva eva eva eva eva eva eva eva eva ..diamonds are forever..fo eva fo eva...

| Posted on 2010-03-02 | by a guest

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In Philip's poem "What Work Is", there are many techniques he uses, and just three of them are imagery, symbols, and rhyming. In this poem Philip starts off by saying what a struggle work is, and trying to get work. He says you're old enough to know what work is if you are at an age of reading, and you know what it means whether you work or not. He talks about waiting and feeling the rain, but then the rain blurs his vision and he think he sees his brother, when in reality it is someone else's brother. All of a sudden the speaker misses his brother, and he speaks about him and him working, and how he has not seen his brother in quite sometime. I want to start off talking about the imagery he shows us in this poem. Imagery Poems draw the reader into poetic experiences by touching on the images and 
senses which the reader already knows. Levine makes us feel as if we are there, waiting in line, and feeling the rain in our hair. He makes us realize, that you know what work is, whether you do it or not. He makes the poem readable for almost any age to understand what is going on, and able to put yourself in that situation. Not only does he make us feel as if we're there, but he makes us feel as if we are the ones in the poem by using the word "you", meaning us an an individual. The poet uses sound words and words of color and touch in addition to figures of speech.  As well, concrete details that appeal to the reader's senses are used to build up images.
The next thing I want to cover is symbols. A symbol works two ways: It is something itself, and it also suggests something deeper. The first thing that pops out to me in this poem is when he talks about waiting. Waiting can symbolize time in this particular poem the concept of time. How sometimes we don't realize waiting and how time passes us. Also the next symbol I realized was when he talked about rain. "Feeling the light rain falling like mist/ into your hair, blurring your vision". Rain symbolizes sadness and grief, and sometimes that's what work can make us feel like. Levine also writes, "You rub your glasses with your fingers", and with symbolism glasses are worn for your eyes, and eyes are an opening to the soul. Rain can also be like an obstacle in life. The rain falls and blurs your vision, or something that you once saw, but something else came along and now you don't see it anymore, or you mistake it for something else, like in this poem he thinks he sees his brother. He talks about his brother more, which can symbolize love and the feeling of missing him. Along with symbolism with small things like rain is connotation, and what the word means in the context of what is going on. The symbolic importance of work operates as an emblem of the soul as well, since not knowing how to love, Levine writes, is to not 'know what work is.'
Finally I want to discuss how Levine has put together this poem, which is another word for syntax. Syntax is the way in which words are put together to form phrases or sentences. In poetry, word order may be shifted around to meet emphasis, to heighten the connection between two words, or to pick up on specific implications or traditions. The way Levine uses line breaks to create emphasis and natural pauses is important as well.

| Posted on 2009-12-09 | by a guest

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