Is it me, or are these poems elegies? Not "For the Union Dead" so much as for the type of life they stood for. Of Shaw he writes, " He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely/ peculiar power to choose life and die--" It reminds me of Tennyson's "How dull it is to pause, to make an end,/ To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!/ As though to breathe were life."
The landscape described in both the Lowell poems we read for today is pervasively sad, as if its inhabitants had become so absorbed in stuff (finned cars, summer houses--as if these things were life) that they betrayed those who once stood against something, who at last embodied the American tradition of rebellion against tyranny, though that tyrant had become America itself.
What a different feel his poem has than Glory. Against the backdrop of contemporary America, does the upright statue of Shaw mean in the way we expect?
4 years ago