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The poem by Carl Sandburg is "The Harbor." The question is below. Can...

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confusedteacher | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:24 AM via web

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The poem by Carl Sandburg is "The Harbor." The question is below. Can someone please help me?

Explain the contrasting ideas presented in the poem. What idea is being presented in lines 1-6? What idea is being presented in lines 6-13? By placing these contrasting ideas together, what message might the poet be trying to leave with the reader?

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vmoriarity | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:59 AM (Answer #1)

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The two sections of this poem simply contrast the view of Chicago while in the city to the harbor.Lines one through six focus on the images urban Chicago.  A very vivid description of the inner city provides strong pictures:  "Huddled and ugly walls" evoke an image of confinement where worn out, hungry women stand in doorways.  These images certainly create images of darkness, ugliness,  and hopelessness.

The speaker steps out of the oppressive city in line six and looks out onto the harbor of Lake Michigan.  The description is now one of beauty, freedom, and hope.  Everything seems fresh in lines 7-13:  The lake is a "blue burst", waves "break" under sun, gulls "flutter", there are "white underbellies...veering and wheeling free in the open."  The fresh, clean images all evoke hope.

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