Analysis Of The Book ' Thanksgiving Letter From Harry ' Essay

Analysis Of The Book ' Thanksgiving Letter From Harry ' Essay

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Common curtesy has us saying “Thanks” to the point that we may have lost the intentions associated with the response. W.S. Merwin sums up this anomaly in his poem “Thanks”, saying “with nobody listening we are saying thank you” (Merwin 29). We say thanks for so many meaningless things that it no longer carry’s the true intent of the speaker. Instead it is a response to acknowledge the receiver rather than giving true thanks. This repetition allows for questions regarding what are we truly thankful for, and how we make this known to the receiver. Carl Dennis, in his poem, “Thanksgiving Letter From Harry”, struggles with this question. Not seeing himself thankful for all the negative atrocities around him, he tries to find something he can stand up and be thankful for with limited success, “I’m, thankful today I don’t reside in a country/My country has chosen to liberate” (Dennis 2-3). Generic overuse of such a simple, but meaningful word, has made saying “thanks” somewhat mundane, making it harder to express their gratitude to the receiver seamlessly.
Unintended utterances by reflex and repetitive expectations of giving thanks has eroded the gratitude that was initially intended by its use. Merwin’s reflection in the poem allows the reader to find the simple examples becoming mundane and less than hearty. “Listen/with the night falling we are saying thank you” (Merwin 1-2) which portrays the relation at the beginning of the poem with more meaning then near the end, “with the animals dying around us/our lost feelings we are saying thank you” (Merwin 22-23). Merwin is giving way to the pretense of extending thanks to things. Just because we utter thanks in truth we may not be thankful for the occurrence for which we have...


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... within to follow a path beyond a mere thanks. Each in their own way acknowledge that without feeling saying “thanks” is yet one more way we play to the receiver.
We can use either a direct or indirect point, but in the end the outcome is the same. Merwin’s direct point, “we are saying thank you and waving/dark though it is” (Merwin 30-31), leads the reader down a path to form his own conclusion by extolling the various ways the word has become complacent. Dennis finds an alternate method to show his lack of enthusiasm for giving thanks. Changing directions within the poem to show that while giving thanks he can find a way to tell his reader that the mere thought of being thankful is unimportant. It is what follows that has true magnitude. Both authors show us through the process, that saying “Thanks” has become an ineffectual form of showing true gratitude.

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