An Interpretation of What Work Is

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An Interpretation of What Work Is Richard Hugo once wrote "Philip Levine knows a few things so well that he cannot forget them when he writes poetry." I believe that one of these things is the subject of work. Levine's theme of work comes from his past experiences of growing up and working during the time of World War II. Philip Levine grew up in Detroit, Michigan during this very difficult time for the United States. His thoughts were occupied with the war and the fear of being sent overseas; therefore his attention was not focused on such things as poetry. Levine was eighteen years old before he realized that poetry had meaning and that he could relate it to his life. A woman gave him a copy of "Arms and A Boy" by Wilfred Owen. After reading it he saw that the people involved had real feelings and issues just as he did. This was when his love for poetry began. Unlike many other poets, Levine writes about common, everyday, subjects that all people have to deal with. Among these is the subject of work. When you hear the word "work" you may think of a nine to five job that you have to do to pay the bills, but is this the only kind of work there is? According to my interpretation of Levine's poem "What Work Is", my answer would be no. Work is the continual topic throughout the poem "What Work Is", but the word "work" has several meanings within this poem. In the beginning of the poem the speaker describes how hard it is to find a job. This is where the first meaning of work comes in. The second meaning of work shows up when the speaker is talking about his brother's job. The final meaning of work comes in toward the end of the poem when the speaker discusses the relationship between him and his brother. I would like ... ... middle of paper ... ...other. He or she must be able to open up and let loved ones see his or her heart, without worrying about things such as age, intelligence, and emotions. It is not too late to do "something so simple, so obvious," as sharing your feelings with someone you care about. I believe this is one of the main points the author is trying to get across to his readers. This poem deals with such a simple, everyday subject, but it can be interpreted in many different ways. Philip Levine has a special way of taking the topic of work and turning it into something meaningful. This enables his readers to be changed, for the better, according to how they interpret his work. As Levine would say, "The poet has the ability to use language in a nice way." and he also gets a very important point across. Works Cited: Levine, Philip. What Work Is. New York: Alfred A. Knopff, 1991.
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