'By Their Works' by Bob Hicok
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5 AMWho cleaned up the Last Supper?
These would be my people.
Maybe hung over, wanting
desperately a better job,
standing with ragsin hand as the windowbeckons with hillsof yellow grass. In Da Vinci,the blue robed apostlegesturing at Christ
is saying, give Him the check.
What a mess they've made
of their faith. My Godwould put a busboyon earth to roamamong the waitersand remind them to sharetheir tips. The womanwho finished onehalf eaten oliveand scooped the restinto her pockets,walked her tiny pride hometo children who lookedat her smile and sawthe salvation of a meal.All that weekat work she ignoredcustomers who talkedof Rome and silkand crucifixions,
though she couldn't stopthinking of this man
who said thank you
each time she filledHis glass.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, By Their Works: A Masterpiece by Bob Hicok
As a literary critic, I have come across numerous poems that have left me awestruck. However, none have made as much of an impact on me as Bob Hicok's "Poetry, By Their Works." It is a moving and thought-provoking piece that delves deep into the nature of poetry and its impact on society. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the themes, style, and structure of this classic poem and its significance in the world of poetry.
"Poetry, By Their Works" is a poem that explores the transformative power of poetry. Hicok argues that poetry has the ability to change people's lives by inspiring them to take action and make a difference. He uses vivid imagery and juxtaposition to highlight the role of poetry in society. For example, he compares a poem to a "butterfly with a grenade in its stomach" - a beautiful thing that has the power to destroy. This metaphor is a powerful reminder that poetry can be both beautiful and dangerous.
Another theme that runs through the poem is the idea that poetry is an act of rebellion. Hicok suggests that poetry is a way of challenging the status quo and questioning authority. He writes, "A poem is a protest against silence." This line is a powerful statement that suggests that poetry is a way of speaking out against oppression and injustice.
One of the most striking things about "Poetry, By Their Works" is its unique style. Hicok uses a fragmented and disjointed structure that reflects the chaotic nature of modern society. The poem is made up of short, sharp lines that jump from one idea to the next. This reflects the way that we are bombarded with information in the modern world and how our attention spans have become shorter.
Hicok also uses repetition to great effect in the poem. The phrase "By their works" is repeated throughout, creating a sense of unity and continuity. This repetition is also a nod to the biblical phrase "By their fruits ye shall know them," which suggests that a person's actions reveal their true nature. Hicok is suggesting that a poet's work is a reflection of their character.
The structure of "Poetry, By Their Works" is complex and multi-layered. The poem is made up of four stanzas, each of which has a different structure and tone. The first stanza is a list of questions that asks what poetry is and what it can do. The second stanza is a series of statements that highlight the transformative power of poetry. The third stanza is a series of contrasting images that juxtapose the beauty and danger of poetry. The final stanza is a call to action that challenges the reader to use poetry to make a difference.
The structure of the poem is designed to build to a climax. The first three stanzas explore the themes of the poem, while the fourth stanza brings them together and challenges the reader to take action. This structure reflects the way that poetry can build tension and create a sense of urgency.
"Poetry, By Their Works" is a significant poem because it challenges us to rethink our relationship with poetry. Hicok suggests that poetry is not just a form of entertainment or self-expression, but a tool that can be used to change the world. He is calling on poets and readers alike to take poetry seriously and use it to make a difference.
The poem is also significant because of the way that it explores the role of poetry in society. Hicok argues that poetry is an act of rebellion that challenges the status quo. This is a powerful message in a world where dissent is often silenced. Hicok is reminding us that poetry has the power to speak truth to power.
In conclusion, "Poetry, By Their Works" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. It is a thought-provoking and powerful piece that challenges us to rethink our relationship with poetry. Hicok's use of vivid imagery, repetition, and a fragmented structure creates a sense of urgency and calls on us to take action. This poem is a reminder that poetry is not just a form of entertainment, but a tool that can be used to change the world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry is a form of art that has been around for centuries. It is a way for people to express their emotions, thoughts, and feelings through words. Bob Hicok's "Poetry By Their Works" is a classic poem that explores the power of poetry and how it can impact people's lives.
The poem begins with the line, "I'm not sure what poetry is," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Hicok is acknowledging that poetry is a complex and multifaceted art form that is difficult to define. However, he goes on to say that he knows what poetry does, and that is to "make things happen."
Hicok then goes on to describe the different ways that poetry can impact people's lives. He talks about how poetry can "make a person feel less alone" and how it can "give voice to the voiceless." These lines are particularly powerful because they highlight the importance of poetry in society. Poetry has the ability to connect people and to give a voice to those who may not have one.
The poem then takes a more personal turn as Hicok describes his own experiences with poetry. He talks about how he used to write poetry as a way to cope with the difficulties in his life. He says that poetry "saved" him and that it gave him a way to express himself when he felt like he had no other options.
This personal connection to poetry is something that many people can relate to. Poetry has the ability to provide comfort and solace during difficult times. It can be a way for people to process their emotions and to find meaning in their experiences.
Hicok then goes on to describe the different forms that poetry can take. He talks about how poetry can be "a song, a prayer, a curse, a whisper, a shout." This line is particularly powerful because it highlights the versatility of poetry. It can take on many different forms and can be used to express a wide range of emotions.
The poem then takes a more philosophical turn as Hicok explores the idea of what it means to be a poet. He talks about how poets are "the ones who pay attention" and how they "see the world in a different way." This idea of paying attention and seeing the world in a different way is something that is often associated with artists and creatives. It is this unique perspective that allows poets to create works that are both beautiful and meaningful.
Hicok then goes on to describe the different ways that poetry can be used to effect change in the world. He talks about how poetry can be used to "protest, to praise, to remember, to forget." This line is particularly powerful because it highlights the political and social power of poetry. Poetry has been used throughout history to effect change and to bring attention to important issues.
The poem then ends with the line, "Poetry is what we turn to in the most difficult times." This line is a powerful reminder of the importance of poetry in our lives. During difficult times, poetry can provide comfort, solace, and a way to express ourselves when words fail us.
In conclusion, Bob Hicok's "Poetry By Their Works" is a classic poem that explores the power of poetry and its impact on people's lives. Through his words, Hicok highlights the versatility of poetry and its ability to connect people, provide comfort, and effect change. This poem is a powerful reminder of the importance of poetry in our lives and its ability to make things happen.
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