My stepdaughter and I circle round and round.
You see, I like the music loud, the speakers
throbbing, jam-packing the room with sound whether
Bach or rock and roll, the volume cranked up so
each bass notes is like a hand smacking the gut.
But my stepdaughter disagrees. She is four
and likes the music decorous, pitched below
her own voice-that tenuous projection of self.
With music blasting, she feels she disappears,
is lost within the blare, which in fact I like.
But at four what she wants is self-location
and uses her voice as a porpoise uses
its sonar: to find herself in all this space.
If she had a sort of box with a peephole
and looked inside, what she’d like to see would be
herself standing there in her red pants, jacket,
yellow plastic lunch box: a proper subject
for serious study. But me, if I raised
the same box to my eye, I would wish to find
the ocean on one of those days when wind
and thick cloud make the water gray and restless
as if some creature brooded underneath,
a rocky coast with a road along the shore
where someone like me was walking and has gone.
Loud music does this, it wipes out the ego,
leaving turbulent water and winding road,
a landscape stripped of people and language-
how clear the air becomes, how sharp the colors.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Dobyns's poem Loud Music


  1. Subrata Ray says:

    Dobyns in Loud Music in a manner of a story-teller hints at the spontaneous flow of true music that occupies every human-being .
    The poem is a discovery of the idea ,-child is the father of man .
    Subrata Ray .Uluberia .West Bengal .India .

  2. Gerald says:

    read this one aloud so you can hear how cleverly written this poem is. dobyns is a master of sound and images. his imagination never ceases to amaze me.

  3. aez says:

    ,.I got confused..
    I got headache.. but it fits to my personality..

  4. Bob says:

    I’ve gotten sick of this poem, English class has killed any love of poetry I once had

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