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, the poem touches upon the nostalgia that is tied so closely to one’s home. The home is where the heart finds refuge, as Olson demonstrates. The speaker smoothly guides the reader down memory lane, a path full of personal anecdotes. However, the poem is more than a heartfelt ode to Gloucester. Olson uses Gloucester as a foil to explore the depths and “complexities” of the American identity. He further elaborates on the resistance and struggle in the confrontation of ‘change‘- change that is inevitable. Olson presents this conceptual idea of a change towards the vision that he has set for Gloucester- or for America. In the beginning of the poem, the reader is transported to the “geography of it (line 1)”, of Gloucester. Presumably one can assume the speaker probably had personal ties to this place, perhaps a home, in which case he is returning. Then the speaker exerts more effort to further invite the reader into his personal memories, taking the reader into himself, immersing them in his memories. This has in effect established a personal and internal connection between the reader and the speaker. Then towards the second stanza, there is a shift, Olson momentarily transports the reader back to the geography of Gloucester, describing where the “sea” and “city” fell. This abrupt transition creates this “in and out” feeling that Olson manifests so well in his poem. He leaves the reader on his words, on his personal anecdotes, teasing the reader, for wanting more, but not always necessarily getting more (to be elaborated further).
In the third stanza, again, Olson transports the reader back into the road of memory lane with a mirage of the speaker’s childhood. The speaker is introduced to the father, who has been portrayed as a man with a “bread-knife” in his teeth. The speaker explains quite lightly, that his father intended to take care of the of the “druggist” attempting to flirt with the idealic mother, with a face that was “Hines pink and apple.” The representation of the masculine man with the complimentary, almost bordering, ‘vulnerable’ portrayal of the feminine woman feeds very well to the classic idea of the strong man taking care of ‘his woman’. The representation of these two characters in the poem carry a slight subtle sense of heroism, as this strong figure of a man combats this monster, in this case, the druggist. We can presume the speaker comes from traditional and old-fashioned roots just from the depiction of the narrative. Then, the poem once again, shifts from the personal, going from internal to external as the speaker makes an abstract declaration. From the visual aspect of the poem, Olsen had the previous stanzas written in a traditional format, however, the upcoming stanzas are scattered, brief and concise, unpredictable in nature really. The physical change of the poem is out of nowhere and abrupt, and ties in nicely with the sub context of the poem as well, about an upcoming change, that is not necessarily good or embraced, but is inevitable. In the content of the stanzas, Olsen writes, “This is no bare incoming/ of novel abstract form (lines 20-21)”, the tone is brazen, assuming a feeling of ascending climax. Olson is building to something as the line get more cut abruptly, teasing the reader. Olson’s diction is vague, going from concrete details from his anecdotes to the usage of words as “this” and “those”, presumably something grandiose and prophetic. In the next stanzas, Olson makes an allusion to the “Greeks” and the “stopping of
the battle (lines 24-25)”, the comparison to the poem to this idea that Olson is asserting makes the mood feel more valiant. The speaker assumes a more assertive and valorous stance, as the spacing between the stanzas themselves become greater as well. Further down into the stanzas, Olson adds, “my words, it is coming/ from all that I no longer am, yet am (lines 29-30).” The syntactical juxtaposition exposes this play on words that Olson dangles in front of the reader. The reader understands the contradiction, and in essence, the contradiction is used as a tool to further expose the flaws and discrepancies of the speaker. Transitioning from the speaker’s own character, the poem brings up the “American/ is a complex of occasions/ themselves a geometry/ of spatial nature (lines 37-40).” Here, Olson attempts to define the American identity, essentially saying we as Americans are intricate and complex, imagery of “geometry” and “spatial nature”. The aesthetics of the word alone act as an ego boost to the intended reader, who also is most likely an America. The whole idea of the complexity of being American, its prestige and held reverence is placed on a pedestal, being compared to