a practical criticism of for the union dead essay
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The aquarium is finished. Everywhere, large finned automobiles nose frontward like fish; a fierce, ferocious servility slideshow by in grease (For the Union Dead – Robert Lowell) In Lowell’s poem ‘For the Union Dead’ there may be an underlying theme of the dropped idealism which in turn caused the American City War and its particular replacement with commercialism and materialism. “Giant finned cars nose frontward like fish”, here Lowell reminds us of 20th century materialism by simply bringing about the image of the highly desired The cadillac (“finned cars”) whilst combining it with all the comparison of a fish.
This in my mind creates the concept of mankind pursuing each other mindlessly to each material craze and status object. Moreover the image of males following one another (“nose forward”) alludes towards the idea of captivity indicating that instead of liberating the African People in america from slavery we have actually all become slaves to the material requires. Also the aquatic sources seen through the poem appear like references to Alan Tate’s poem ‘Ode to the Confederate Dead’: “Now that the sodium of their blood stiffens the saltier elder scroll 4 of the sea, seals the malignant chastity of the flood.
This could again be an indication that perhaps the North (and certainly all of ‘liberated’ America features in fact dropped its conflict against slavery to materialism and are now in the “Oblivion of the sea”. Although this kind of then produces a feeling of reliability on the objects because us fish are reliant on the oxygen in our ‘metaphoric sea of materialism’ and this is symbolized previously in the composition by the picture of Colonel Shaw’s monument in Boston Common being propped up to by simply planks so that it can survive home of an subway parking framework: “Propped up by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake”. This not only reveals this new located reliance upon objects but represents the war Colonel Shaw was (and now again is) fighting against slavery.
I pushed against the fresh and galvanized barbed wall on the Boston Common. At the rear of their cage, yellow prehistoric steam shovels were grunting as they opened tons of mush and lawn to put their underworld garage (For the Union Dead – Robert Lowell)
“Galvanised barbed fence […] grunting […] gouge” brings to mind the contrasting picture that these new mechanical “Dinosaurs” are our slaves. Which is made to seem cruel not only by the use of “Grunting” but by the personification from the cranes: “They cropped up a lot of mush and grass”. This suggests that the 20th century American have not just neglected the Idealism of the North but has in fact taken on that of that South! Thus giving further which means to the fact that the task these fresh ‘slaves’ are doing is banging over and harmful Shaw’s batiment which is close to falling in to the hole in Boston Prevalent (being dug for a new parking structure) which symbolizes the getting rid of of Shaw and his Idealism by Materialism. “The throw away where his sons physique was tossed and dropped with his Niggers” – Again.