Name: Title: “For the Union Dead” Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead” is a classic poem that pays tribute to the magnificence of the Civil war period. He delivered this poem at the Boston Arts festival in 1960…
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Robert Lowell reflects on the memorial of Colonel Shaw, a white Massachusetts Union soldier, and 54th Massachusetts by comparing them. He also ponders over the development and the state of American progress at that point in time. The setting of the poem is the park near the monument of Colonel Shaw. At the outset of the poem, the poet visits the park and the memories associated suddenly come resurfacing. The construction of an underground garage makes him think about the aquarium in the park that he used to visit as a child which had been knocked down in 1954. The aquarium further leads him to think about the memorial of Colonel Shaw and all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry that was lead by him during the civil war era. The poem mostly leans on the comparison of the sacrifice of 54th Massachusetts infantry with the demolition of the memorial of Colonel Shaw. On one hand, the poem seems to appreciate Colonel Shaw, his soldiers and their sacrifice in the Civil war. They sacrificed their own lives for the betterment of the country and their intentions were evident from their brave demeanor. On the other hand, the poet wonders the reasons they fought for in these words: "But for what?". It is quite apparent that they fought for equality and the eradication of servility. However, Robert Lowell looks at the current state and still feels the servility that was supposed to depart during the civil war area. ...
The first manifestation of the memorial of the Colonel Shaw honors the sacrifice of the soldiers. They travelled and fought with bravery despite the unsympathetic conditions. Another important theme that relates their sacrifice with the deterioration of the memorials is transformation. However, the transformation refers to the degeneration in reality. The construction of new garage means the gradual deterioration of old memorials. In fact, the world has forgotten about the sacrifices of their war heroes and the feelings of racial repressiondo not seem to diminish. The poem seems to try to open the eyes of the people in order to get them to recognize the importance of the monuments. Robert Lowell, on one hand, shows disappointment in his fellow citizens for their lack of progress but, on the other hand, shows respect towards the consistency of African Americans. Moreover, he throws light on the distressing fact that remembrance has taken the shape of advertisements for the Americans instead of statues. The poem conveys that the advertisement for a brand of the safe (Mosler bank vaults) is truly bland as employs the image of human destruction to sell their safes. The spirit of American for their war memorials is even less vigorous than the advertisement. Robert Lowell seems to link the banking system to the war through the durable safe advertisement. Both of them mark the destruction of life. Furthermore, through the example of African American, the poem seems to describe extremely slow progress of the African Americans in the United States of America due to the constant feeling of racial oppression. “For the Union Dead” throws light on the disturbed terrain of the US and Boston during 1960. The poem works
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