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The language is studiously specific. The result is that the poem seems to be about the real world, the outside one affected by world leaders like Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill (the “Big Three”), and the local one lived in by the likes of Henry, who slowly have been assimilating the artifacts and conveniences of the second half of the twentieth century. The implication is that the more real of the worlds is the one that ordinary people, like Henry and the speaker, inhabit. Because world politics are remote and unreachable, a reasonable response is interest in the activities of real, ordinary folks. The speaker is unidentified (the authorial voice?), but is a reasonable, observant sort, whom we may presume to be a woman, also wishing for her own identity and space. The third stanza indicates her desire for privacy and individuality, and suggests why she is friendly and sympathetic to Henry. The listener is apparently someone with whom the speaker has been involved. She has tried to sever her connection with him, but he still calls her and lets the phone ring all afternoon, an action which she regards not as a pleasure but as a “summons” (line 15). The listener’s response indicates her strong wish to be herself and to be free.
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