'The Pennycandystore Beyond The El' by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where i firstfell in lovewith unreality
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved amongthe licorice sticksand tootsie rollsand Oh Boy GumOutside the leaves were falling as they diedA wind had blown away the sunA girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little roomOutside the leaves were fallingand they criedToo soon! too soon!
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Pennycandystore Beyond The El: A Celebration of the Everyday
As soon as I laid my eyes on Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem "The Pennycandystore Beyond the El," I could sense that I was in for a treat. This poem, published in 1955, is a celebration of the everyday, a tribute to the small pleasures of life that often go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of the city. Through Ferlinghetti's sharp and vivid imagery, we are transported to a world of candy stores, streetcars, and neon lights, and we are reminded that even the most mundane moments can hold a special kind of magic.
The Setting: Beyond the El
The title of the poem, "The Pennycandystore Beyond the El," immediately sets the stage for the setting of the poem. The "El," or Elevated train, was a common sight in many American cities during the mid-twentieth century, and it functions here as a symbol of the urban landscape that Ferlinghetti is exploring. But what lies "beyond" the El? What hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered in the city streets?
Ferlinghetti's answer to this question is the pennycandystore, a humble establishment that, in the poet's eyes, represents a kind of oasis of sweetness and light in the midst of the city's chaos. The store is described in vivid detail: its jars of candy, its wooden floors, its neon lights that "shimmer like a drowning man's last gurgling breath." Ferlinghetti's language is rich and sensual, and he uses every sense - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch - to bring the store to life.
The Characters: The Children and the Old Couple
But the pennycandystore is not just a setting - it is also a place where people gather. Ferlinghetti populates his poem with two groups of characters: the children who come to the store to buy candy, and the old couple who run the store. These characters are not given names or detailed backstories, but they are nevertheless vividly drawn through Ferlinghetti's poetry.
The children are described as "small boys" and "small girls," with "sticky fingers" and "dirty faces." They are a boisterous and energetic bunch, running up and down the aisles of the store and "squealing with delight" at the sight of the candy. Ferlinghetti captures the sense of joy and abandon that children often feel in the face of simple pleasures, and he reminds us that even the act of buying candy can be a form of rebellion against the constraints of adult life.
The old couple who run the store, meanwhile, are presented as figures of quiet dignity and endurance. They are described as "grey and ancient," with "wrinkled eyes" and "trembling hands." They have seen the city change around them, but they remain steadfast in their commitment to providing a haven of sweetness and light for their customers. Ferlinghetti's portrayal of the old couple is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, and a reminder that even in the midst of hardship and turmoil, people can find a way to create something beautiful.
The Themes: Nostalgia, Innocence, and the Power of Small Pleasures
At its heart, "The Pennycandystore Beyond the El" is a poem about nostalgia and the innocence of childhood. Ferlinghetti's evocation of the pennycandystore and the children who frequent it is suffused with a sense of longing for a simpler time, when life was less complicated and the world seemed full of possibility. Through his poetic language and his attention to detail, Ferlinghetti invites us to share in this nostalgia, to remember those moments of simple pleasure and freedom that we may have experienced in our own childhoods.
But the poem is not just a wistful reminiscence - it is also a celebration of the power of small pleasures to bring joy and light into our lives. Ferlinghetti reminds us that even in the midst of the city's noise and chaos, there are moments of sweetness and beauty to be found. The pennycandystore may be a humble establishment, but it is also a place of wonder and magic, where the simplest pleasures can bring delight and happiness.
The Legacy: A Tribute to the Beat Generation and a Message for the Present
"The Pennycandystore Beyond the El" is not just a great poem in its own right - it is also a testament to the legacy of the Beat Generation, of which Ferlinghetti was a key figure. The poem's celebration of the everyday, its attention to small details, and its focus on the power of language to capture the essence of experience are all hallmarks of the Beat aesthetic. Through his poetry, Ferlinghetti helped to define a new kind of American literature, one that sought to capture the rhythms and energy of a rapidly changing society.
But the poem is also a message for the present, a reminder that even in our own fast-paced and often chaotic world, there are moments of beauty and wonder to be found. Ferlinghetti's evocation of the pennycandystore and the joy it brings to its customers is a call to embrace the small pleasures of life, to find joy in the everyday, and to remember that even in the darkest of times, there is still sweetness and light to be found.
In conclusion, "The Pennycandystore Beyond the El" is a masterpiece of American poetry, a celebration of the everyday that reminds us of the power of small pleasures to bring joy and beauty into our lives. Through his vivid imagery and his attention to detail, Ferlinghetti brings the world of the pennycandystore to life, and he invites us to share in the wonder and magic of this humble establishment. Whether we are nostalgic for a simpler time or in need of a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us, Ferlinghetti's poem is a message of hope and inspiration that resonates just as strongly today as it did over half a century ago.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Pennycandystore Beyond The El: A Poetic Journey Through Nostalgia and Urban Life
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "The Pennycandystore Beyond The El" is a classic poem that captures the essence of urban life and nostalgia. The poem takes the reader on a journey through the streets of New York City, where the speaker reminisces about his childhood and the simple pleasures of life. The poem is a celebration of the beauty and wonder of everyday life, and it reminds us of the importance of cherishing the small moments that make life worth living.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the Pennycandystore, a small shop located beyond the elevated train tracks, or "El," in New York City. The store is a symbol of the speaker's childhood, a time when life was simple and carefree. The speaker describes the store in vivid detail, painting a picture of a magical place where candy and other treats were sold for just a penny.
The Pennycandystore is not just a place where candy is sold, but it is also a place where memories are made. The speaker remembers the joy he felt as a child when he would visit the store and buy candy with his friends. The store is a symbol of the innocence and wonder of childhood, a time when the world was full of possibilities and anything seemed possible.
As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to reflect on the changes that have taken place in his life and in the world around him. He describes the noise and chaos of the city, the constant hustle and bustle of people rushing to and fro. The speaker laments the loss of the simple pleasures of life, the things that once brought him joy and happiness.
Despite the changes that have taken place, the speaker remains hopeful and optimistic. He believes that there is still beauty and wonder to be found in the world, if only we take the time to look for it. The poem is a reminder that even in the midst of chaos and turmoil, there is still hope and joy to be found.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Ferlinghetti paints a vivid picture of the Pennycandystore, describing it in such detail that the reader can almost smell the candy and hear the creaking of the floorboards. The imagery is so powerful that it transports the reader back in time, to a place where life was simple and carefree.
The poem also makes use of repetition, with the phrase "the Pennycandystore beyond the El" appearing several times throughout the poem. This repetition serves to reinforce the importance of the store in the speaker's life, and it also creates a sense of rhythm and flow that adds to the poem's overall beauty.
Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of language. Ferlinghetti's writing is simple and straightforward, yet it is also incredibly poetic. The poem is filled with beautiful phrases and vivid descriptions that capture the essence of urban life and nostalgia. The language is so powerful that it evokes strong emotions in the reader, reminding us of the beauty and wonder of everyday life.
In conclusion, "The Pennycandystore Beyond The El" is a classic poem that celebrates the beauty and wonder of everyday life. It reminds us of the importance of cherishing the small moments that make life worth living, and it encourages us to look for beauty and joy in even the most chaotic and difficult of circumstances. The poem is a testament to the power of language and imagery, and it is a timeless reminder of the importance of poetry in our lives.
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