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Comment 10 of 26, added on June 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 PM.
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Comment 9 of 26, added on December 17th, 2009 at 11:38 AM.
Lowell ties in the yet unresolved issues of the Civil War with the mindless
consumerism that grips the nation in his poem, “For the Union Dead”. One
of Lowell’s best-known works, Union Dead is a multi-layered poem set in the
heart of Boston. On the surface, it is an elegy to the heroic
Massachusetts 54. The soldiers fought with valor and moral integrity while
trying to preserve the Union and end slavery. A closer examination reveals
a country that blindly worships Capitalism. Following consumerism alone
has left the country directionless. Lowell watches the steam shovels at
work and comments that avarice is literally and figuratively shaking the
Massachusetts Statehouse, “Parking spaces luxuriate like civic sandpiles in
the heart of Boston. A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse.” Lowell is nostalgic for the Boston of his
youth and for a country, real or imagined, whose moral integrity was
intact. Lowell is raising an objection to a country that commodifies the
nuclear age, he objects to the new realism; he objects to the triumph of
commercialism over morality, he objects to a country that has forsaken
spirituality for physicality: “On Boylston Street a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling over a Mosler safe, the “Rock of Ages” that
survived the blast. Space is nearer.” The space that Lowell speaks of is
just that- Nothingness. Extinction of the human race will be the cost if
we cannot move to higher moral ground.
Rob from United States
Comment 8 of 26, added on January 13th, 2009 at 12:31 AM.
Lowell wasn't trying to write a sentimental glorification of war, but to
comment on how a consumerist America thought parking lots more important.
What's "mediocre" isn't the poem, it's the people who in savage servility
slide by on grease.
Edward G. Nilges
from United States
Comment 7 of 26, added on August 17th, 2008 at 6:55 PM.
Peter's comments helped me see what I was struggling with as I studied this
poem. I particularly thrilled to his insight into the function of form:
"What is missing is clarity and form; clarity of meaning, and the economy
and intensity of expression that form gives. " --- Linda's comments are
just beautifully written, with a charming liveliness and presence, that
adorn her fine (expansion of Peter's?) essay. I was pleased, too, with her
firm distinction between the events addressed by the poem and the poem
itself. --- I do agree with both writers and was disappointed by the poem
itself; it strikes me as quite sophomoric, actually. --- Thank you all very
much for entering my life thus and, thus, enhancing it.
Susan Jeswine O'Shea
from United States
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