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Poetry and Politics - Essay Example

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Even so, wars involving the US military have always had a profound impact on Americans at home. Soldiers return home wounded or dead and in the meantime, loved ones suffer through the…
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Poetry and Politics
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"Poetry and Politics"

Download file to see previous pages have tapped into the American conscience and have examined the utility of war against the backdrop of the experiences of American soldiers abroad and Americans at home in times of war (Goldensohn, 2006). Poets are generally expected to be contemplative and to give expression to reality. Poets not only “interpret the world, but inform and renew it” (Clements, 1990, p. 239). In this regard, American poets through poetic expression have contemplated, interpreted, informed and renewed the war expression, rationalizing for the most part their objection to war. Some of these poets were actually “conscientious objectors” (Metres, 2007, p. 5).
Robert Lowell was a conscientious objector and is the main subject in his poem Memories of West Street and Lepke which reflects upon his experiences when he was imprisoned for a few days in West Street Jail awaiting a sentence for his refusal to be drafted for the Second World War (Metres, 2000). During his stint in Jail, Lowell met Czar Lepke, a leader of a gang known as Murder Incorporated, who had been sentenced to death for murder. Lepke allegedly told Lowell that he was in jail for killing a human being and asked Lowell what he was in jail for to which Lowell replied “Oh, I’m in for refusing to kill” (Metres, 2000, p. 661).
Lowell’s Memories of West Street and Lepke does not recount this specific encounter, but it presents a realistic image of American freedom and by doing so, forces the reader to ponder whether or not that freedom is worth going to war to protect. Lowell himself is living in a huge house and has only one child, a nine month old baby girl. Meanwhile, a man is “scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans” and “has two children” (Lowell, Lines 6-7). Thus Lowell’s consciously brings attention to the fact that freedom brings about inequities.
Moreover, Lowell mentions his young daughter which brings to mind the fact that at this very young age, she might never know her father ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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