Explain the  poem,  "Men of Terry Street," by Douglas Dunn.

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Men of Terry Street" is a poem by the contemporary Scottish poet, Douglas Dunn (born 1942).

The poem describes a group of men who come at night to the narrator's  neighborhood of Terry Street.  What these men actually do is unclear.  Although they appear to be of the working class, based on their outfits of "boots and overalls," it is not clear from the poem if they come to Terry Street for work, for late-night entertainment, or perhaps for crime.  The narrator only says:

I hear their footsteps, the ticking of bicycle chains,
Sudden blasts of motorcycles, whimpering of vans.

The narrator admires their "masculine invisibility" and imagines these men to be "gods."  His illusion is shattered, however, when he sees these men "home early from work / Or at their Sunday leisure."  At these times, the men are "tired" and "bored" and "It hurts to see their faces."  They are quite mundane and thoroughly human.  When they smell food cooking, "they quicken their step," and "They hold up their children and sing to them."

These tough-guy gods are just hungry family men.  


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