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Interpret the poem "Having lost my sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon:...

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fullstudy | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:36 AM via web

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Interpret the poem "Having lost my sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon: Christmas, 1960" by James Wright in terms of war, as in those days America was surrounded by Vitenam war?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 17, 2012 at 2:41 AM (Answer #1)

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In "Having Lost My Sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon: Christmas, 1960," James Wright uses strong imagery to evoke feelings of isolation and disconnection.  The poem centers around imagery of the moon, and throughout the poem, the speaker asserts himself as being on the periphery, an outsider.  The poem definitely speaks to Wright's own personal problems at the time, his separation from his wife and sons because of marital problems, but the poem could also be analyzed through the lens of a greater national, social ennui and the Vietnam War. 

When I read the poem, I really get a sense of Wright aligning himself with his common motif found in much of his poetry, the outsider.  The image of him looking at the ruins of the great white city, all frosty in the moonlight reveals him as being on the outside looking in; he is not a part of the city, much as he is no longer part of his family.  At the same time, the images of death incorporated into the poem, like the imagery of the old gravestones, could tie into Wright's prevalent theme of death (also found in many of his poems).  Wright is definitely a social poet; if he says something in his poem, he usually is trying to make a point about a larger social issue.  All of the deathly images in the poem coupled with the notion of the "beautiful white ruins of America" could definitely speak to his fears of America's moral collapse due to their participation in a war that so many Americans oppose. 

The biggest feeling I take away from Wright's poem is the over-whelming sense of desolation evoked by his deathly white imagery; the poem feels stark and cold.  Although the poem is not overtly anti-Vietnam, it does not have to be to convey Wright's feelings on that night in 1960; his work is never simple or merely addresses a single issue or emotion.  Wright portrays a world without color or life, against the background of ruined America.  The imagery perfectly captures the winter desolation and the speaker's own disconnection to the world around him.

 

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Kristen Lentz

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