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From lines 1 to 20, the images primarily reflect a middle- to upper-class type of American life. We find references to the profession of a surgeon, and images of watching baseball and playing golf, going to church and making financial investments, making political donations and having dinner around the family table. Negative images reflect the troubles of the children and the howling of the dog. The argument of the poem, as developed through these images, is that people dream on about their lives, and as they dream they deceive themselves because they do not recognize that there is another dimension of life to which they are oblivious—namely, the dimension of poetry. Their lives, in short, are “effluvial,” a waste (line 20).
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