In "Buffalo Bill 's," how does spacing affect your reading and enjoyment of the poem?

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Visually, the spacing in this poem seems to achieve two ends:  it is a reflection both of Buffalo Bill’s career and his sharpshooting act, as well as a succinct plotline in itself.  The lines forge a quick path ahead, becoming more and more deeply indented from the left margin.  The words “onetwothreefourfive…pigeonsjustlikethat,” symbolize the speed with which Buffalo Bill shot the (most likely clay) pigeons at rodeo shows, by leaving no spaces between the words – no room to breathe between shots.  This in turn could symbolize the climax and brevity of his career.  The easternmost line in the poem consists of a single word:  “Jesus,” an exclamation that brings us away from the man’s actions and back to himself, “a handsome man.”  And after another indented line, we come full circle, back to the fact that he is now “defunct;” now, however, the reader realizes that defunct means dead.  The poem ends on a question, flush with the left margin:  “how do you like your blue-eyed boy/Mister Death?”  The question, and the tone of the poem, retrospectively, is a bit tongue-in-cheek – even celebrities like Buffalo Bill meet their demise eventually.  And in the end, they aren’t so special after all.

So here we have a structure that parallels that of Buffalo Bill’s life and career, starting flat, rising, peaking, and falling back to where it began.  In addition, the poem begins with a statement:  “Buffalo Bill ‘s/defunct,” and returns to the same place – the man’s death, and the death of all that he stands for; this is hinted at with the word “defunct.”  With the death of Buffalo Bill, an era of American optimism, of shortsightedness and recklessness, is over.

The spacing of the lines could serve as well to break up the reader’s stream of thought into multiple separate ideas, reminiscent of the way a person might naturally recall a celebrity that has passed – someone they did not know personally, and who is therefore reduced to their actions and their physical appearance.  The lines draw a reader out from the center, away from the main idea of the poem, floating into offhand descriptions before the exclamation – “Jesus,” calls one back, as someone on a tangent might float off into the void, and then upon realizing where she is going, with a few succinct phrases summarize this offshoot story and move back to the subject at hand.  And so the poem drifts off into Buffalo Bill’s description before sturdily coming back to the meat of the subject.

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