“To No One in Particular” is a poem in free verse. The title functions much like the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation of a letter that carries a message to anyone that can make use of it. It is written from a first-person perspective with nothing to indicate that the poet is speaking through a persona (a character distinctly different from the poet who functions as the narrator of the poem). Both the voice and the ideas expressed in the poem are consistent with those in many other poems by Marvin Bell, so it seems reasonable to assume that there is no philosophical difference between the “I” of the poem and the poet himself. With no stanza breaks and no extra spacings or peculiar formatting, the poem’s fifty-five lines appear on the page like one long, narrow paragraph; however, there are some easily distinguishable sections of the poem.
The first two lines of the poem, “Whether you sing or scream/ the process is the same,” prepare the reader, like the thesis statement in an academic essay, for an exploration of “the process” behind human vocalizations. The next eight lines act as an introduction to a comparative analysis of two very different types of human speech—learned and instinctive. They also point out crude aspects of the actual vocal instrument—“spittle and phlegm.”
In lines 11 through 22 the poet speculates that if one were to grab someone by the throat and beat him, someone else would almost...
(The entire section is 479 words.)