Woody Guthrie Questions and Answers

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Investigate the form of "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie using one or more of the following elements of poetic form that you feel are particularly important in this poem (you do not need to discuss them all): rhyme, rhythm, meter, and cadence; repetition, diction, and syntax; line breaks and stanza breaks. Explain how the elements you focused on affect the way that the song communicates its meaning to you, and make sure to reference, paraphrase, or quote specific passages from the text to support and illustrate what you say.

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Guthrie uses balanced phrasing, or parallel structure, to communicate the theme of the song. This phrasing also establishes the melody when the song is sung. The benefit of balanced phrasing is that it maintains consistent structure throughout the song while allowing enough flexibility for the writer to explore variations in the theme. For example, the song strikes a balance between “your land” and “my land.” Guthrie then uses balanced phrasing to discuss comparative geographic aspects of the US: “redwood forest” and “Gulf Stream waters.” Guthrie then explores the balanced phrasing in a first-person point of view to describe different aspects of the US. For example, he writes, “As I went walking that ribbon of highway, I saw above me that endless skyway.” Overall, the technique communicates the vastness and diversity of the US and how it was ultimately made for “you” and “me.”

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