Poetry Analysis

By: Ryan King and Tate May


In this poem, there was lots of talk about America being this huge creature that nurtures us and feeds us.

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,

And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,

Stealing my breath of life, I will confess

I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.

Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,

Giving me strength erect against her hate,

Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.

Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,

I stand within her walls with not a shred

Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.

Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,

And see her might and granite wonders there,

Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,

Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

America Solitude

This poem states that the cure for loneliness is solitude and describes what it is.

Hopper never painted this, but here

on a snaky path his vision lingers:

three white tombs, robots with glassed-in faces

and meters for eyes, grim mouths, flat noses,

lean forward on a platform, like strangers

with identical frowns scanning a blur,

far off, that might be their train.

Gas tanks broken for decades face Parson’s

smithy, planked shut now. Both relics must stay.

The pumps have roots in gas pools, and the smithy

stores memories of hammers forging scythes

to cut spartina grass for dry salt hay.

The tanks have the remove of local clammers

who sink buckets and stand, never in pairs,

but one and one and one, blank-eyed, alone,

more serene than lonely. Today a woman

rakes in the shallows, then bends to receive

last rays in shimmering water, her long shadow

knifing the bay. She slides into her truck

to watch the sky flame over sand flats, a hawk’s

wind arabesque, an island risen, brown

Atlantis, at low tide; she probes the shoreline

and beyond grassy dunes for where the land

might slope off into night. Hers is no common

emptiness, but a vaster silence filled

with terns’ cries, an abundant solitude.

Nearby, the three dry gas pumps, worn

survivors of clam-digging generations,

are luminous, and have an exile’s grandeur

that says: In perfect solitude, there’s fire.

One day I approached the vessels

and wanted to drive on, the road ablaze

with dogwood in full bloom, but the contraptions

outdazzled the road’s white, even outshone

a bleached shirt flapping alone

on a laundry line, arms pointed down.

High noon. Three urns, ironic in their outcast

dignity—as though, like some pine chests,

they might be prized in disuse—cast rays,

spun leaf—covered numbers, clanked, then wheezed

and stopped again. Shadows cut the road

before I drove off into the dark woods.

American Smooth

The poem's meaning is that the people are having a ball and are getting lost in the American music.

We were dancing—it must have

been a foxtrot or a waltz,

something romantic but

requiring restraint,

rise and fall, precise

execution as we moved

into the next song without

stopping, two chests heaving

above a seven-league

stride—such perfect agony,

one learns to smile through,

ecstatic mimicry

being the sine qua non

of American Smooth.

And because I was distracted

by the effort of

keeping my frame

(the leftward lean, head turned

just enough to gaze out

past your ear and always

smiling, smiling),

I didn’t notice

how still you’d become until

we had done it

(for two measures?

four?)—achieved flight,

that swift and serene


before the earth

remembered who we were

and brought us down

American Soldier

This poem talks about a soldier who is poor and fights for his country.

Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,

Too poor to shine in courts, too proud to beg,

He, who once warred on Saratoga’s plains,

Sits musing o’er his scars, and wooden leg.

Remembering still the toil of former days,

To other hands he sees his earnings paid;--

They share the due reward—he feeds on praise.

Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune’s shade.

Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,

‘Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,

Removed alike from courtly cringing ‘squires,

The great-man’s Levee, and the proud man’s grin.

Sold are those arms which once on Britons blazed,

When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;

That power repelled, and Freedom’s fabrick raised,

She leaves her soldier—famine and a name!