The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Searchers” is a long free-verse poem in seven sections. The title refers to the central theme of the poem: the constant movement of migrant workers as they seek not only work but also truth and dignity. Tomás Rivera presents them as embodying the questing spirit of the Americas, though they are often denied their legal and monetary due. Because the poem deals with the abuse of and discrimination against the migrant workers (Chicanos), the injurious effects of prejudice are a central concern. Though the poem does present the Chicanos as expressing the elemental identity of the Americas, the poem indicates that rejection of the people and their culture has turned them inward, searchers for a truth that can sustain one during adversity and misfortune.

Section I introduces the images of the earth in which the workers search for their history and their humanity, as well as for their livelihood. Throughout the rest of the poem, Rivera draws on the experience of the migrant worker to illustrate his belief that the earth and those who work it will endure. They will find within themselves “the passion to create/of every clod and stone/a new life/a new dream.” Their search is based on the perfection of the seed of the newborn child, which is the beginning of all life. Only bigotry and repression can, temporarily, negate the promise of the beginning.

Sections II and III extend the meaning of the word “searcher” to those who look for the...

(The entire section is 542 words.)