Criticism And Symbolism In David Berman's Self-Portrait At 28

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading David Berman’s poem “Self-Portrait at 28”. Reading this poem made me feel sad, pensive and nostalgic for the events in my life that I miss. I’m not twenty eight, but I feel like the events that the persona talked about in this poem were very universal. I also sympathize with the persona’s depression and feeling with loneliness. I can relate to feel like I am bothering someone while I am talking to them. I often get scared reaching out to people because I am always afraid I am bothering them. The voice is this poem were very strong. The uses of imagery, tone and symbolism help make this poem strong.

A self portrait is normally a painting of the painter itself. The painting is a tangible piece of art because it is …show more content…

One of the most repeated symbols in this poem is the image of the hill. It is repeated in four stanzas. In the first stanza of the poem, the hill is mentioned as “the ideal of Virginia brochured with goldenrod and loblolly” (2-3). This hill is specifically in Virginia and is the image looks like something that is on a brochure with beautiful nature. The hill is mentioned again in the second stanza: “It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word “hill”...and this hill would be still beautiful” (1-2, 5-7). There is an obvious image of a hill that the persona is depicting. Hills in general have a top and a bottom. I believe that the hill in this poem represents the ups and downs of the persona’s life and how the persona depicts the hill as beautiful lends to him being optimistic about life. Berman writes about the hill again in the fifth part of the poem: “The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light” (300-301). The last mention of the hill is in the twenty third stanza the first two lines read: “I walked out of the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today”. The hill is now mostly covered with snow due to the Alaskan mention. You cannot tell what the hill looks like with the snow covering it, which represents how the persona feels about his life. Another symbol is the persona’s dogs. Dogs are normally symbolized as being kind and loving animals, a man’s best friend. The second stanza of part five is: “I’m watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set”. This stanza represents that the persona as a young person. The persona feels that he has not lived out his dreams yet, but he cannot achieve them because he is not happy. The dog is again mentioned: “but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how berman's poem "self-portrait at 28" made them feel sad, pensive and nostalgic for the events in their lives that they miss.
  • Analyzes how berman's poem, a self-portrait, is different from painting because it is open to interpretation and not as concrete as painting. the imagery in the poem tells the reader that the persona would rather be anywhere but virginia.
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