Passing Through Questions and Answers
by Stanley Kunitz

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Provide an analysis of the poem "Passing Through" by Stanley Kunitz.

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In an interview featured in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Stanley Kunitz related that he didn’t have particular themes in mind when he wrote his poems. Instead, material for poems came to him through perceptions. These perceptions in turn, guided his composition. Kunitz further noted that when he reviewed his works, “I am astonished at all the secrets I find buried in the text.”

With the poet’s view of his writing process in mind, let’s look at the perceptions and secrets in “Passing Through.”

In the first stanza, the narrator explains to an unknown person, perhaps a spouse, that he did not grow up celebrating anything. Death has already marked his family as the narrator refers to his mother as “the widow.” And then:

my birthday went up in smoke

in a fire at City Hall that gutted

the Department of Vital Statistics.

The narrator goes on to note that if it weren’t...

(The entire section contains 476 words.)

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