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Manhole Covers Analysis



Author: Poetry of Karl Shapiro Type: Poetry Views: 1734

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Selected PoemsThe beauty of manhole covers--what of that?

Like medals struck by a great savage khan,

Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,

Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,

Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,

But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed

With the great company names

(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).

This rustproof artifact of my street,

Long after roads are melted away will lie

Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,

Bitten at the edges,

Strong with its cryptic American,

Its dated beauty.





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

.: :.

I picture a future archaeologist discovering a manhole cover and thinking that it's a coin or medal made by an ancient race of giants. I only wish he had referenced Bell System, my favorite covers.
B.A. Bookshelf

| Posted on 2016-11-29 | by a guest


.: :.

"The rustproof artifact of my street, long after roads are melted away will lie sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world..." The speaker seems to imply that the manhole covers will be one of the last remaining reminders of 'the iron-old world'. It sounds like he views the future as a place with no man-made items such as a manhole cover. This seems to be addressed in a grave manner, its possibly a future that the speaker fears or views as bleak. Deep.

K. E. Sprague:
"Love, live, obsess and check your spelling!"

| Posted on 2007-01-24 | by a guest


.: :.

"The rustproof artifact of my street, long after roads are melted away will lie sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world..." The speaker seems to imply that the manhole covers will be one of the last remaining reminders of 'the iron-old world'. It sounds like he views the future as a place with no man-made items such as a manhole cover. This seems to be addressed in a grave manner, its possibly a future that the speaker fears or views as bleak. Deep.

K. E. Sprague:
"Love, live, obsess and check your spelling!"

| Posted on 2007-01-24 | by a guest


.: :.

Written by Karl Shapiro, “Manhole Covers” is an poem which establishes the idea that manhole covers has a symbolic meaning than what it is usually associated to. Through similes and imagery, the speaker is able to convey the idea that manhole covers in itself is a symbol of strength, longevity and everlasting beauty. An example of this is in the second line of the poem in which it is compared to “medals struck by a great savage khan”. By this, the image of a powerful figure striking a medal won from victory at war is brought up. This associates manhole covers to something of the same caliber which is considered a prized possession and a symbol of strength. Furthermore, it is also being compared to the “great savage kahn” himself, who obviously has power and control. Another example is how it is described as a “rustproof artifact”. Through this description, the speaker conveys the idea that a manhole cover is some sort of artwork which is forever. The speaker uses “rustproof” to describe the manhole cover’s longevity and everlasting beauty while he uses “artifact” to associate it to a form of artwork. Yet another example is the description that it is “dated beauty”. This, again, symbolizes its ability to preserve and its beauty. Very detailed imagery and similes is used throughout the poem to establish the manhole covers’ hidden symbolic meanings of strength, longevity and everlasting beauty.


-Michele S! the geekiest bietch around


| Posted on 2005-10-10 | by Approved Guest


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he likes manholes. and their covers. i think he wants to crawl down a manhole and die. it's a way of dying in peace and seclusion. noone has to watch him die down there. he can be alone in his last moments to think about things. that's what this poem is all about. manholes are ugly. he things he is ugly too. that's why he wants to die. he hates himself. he feels liks a manhole cover. but he doesn't have a ladder. he wants to crawl down a manhole and die but he doesn't want a ladder because then he might be tempted to crawl back out.

| Posted on 2004-08-30 | by Approved Guest




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