Essay on An Interpretation of What Work Is

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An Interpretation of What Work Is Richard Hugo once wrote "Philip Levine knows a few things so well that he cannot forget them when he writes poetry." I believe that one of these things is the subject of work. Levine's theme of work comes from his past experiences of growing up and working during the time of World War II. Philip Levine grew up in Detroit, Michigan during this very difficult time for the United States. His thoughts were occupied with the war and the fear of being sent overseas; therefore his attention was not focused on such things as poetry. Levine was eighteen years old before he realized that poetry had meaning and that he could relate it to his life. A woman gave him a copy of "Arms and A Boy" by Wilfred Owen.…show more content…
The process of finding a job is hard work in itself. The speaker describes long hours of waiting in line, "shifting from one foot to another", in hopes of attaining a job. The speaker knows that there is little chance for him to get a job on this rainy day, but still he waits in the long line. This is his job, or work, for now and he will do it no matter what. This kind of work is very tiresome. The speaker shows this by saying "Feeling the light rain falling like mist / into your hair, blurring your vision / until you think you see your own brother / ahead of you, maybe ten paces." When the speaker says his eyes are blurry it gives the feeling that not only is it a dreary, rainy day, but he has also been up for a long period of time. He is so tired that he cannot make out if the man standing just a few paces in front of him is his brother. Although this man is tired, weak, and wet he refuses to give in. He will stand in the line and do this work until he gets to the front. He knows that when he reaches the front of the line a man will be waiting there to say, "No, / we're not hiring today," and then the speaker will be forced to take his work elsewhere. When the speaker starts to think of his brother the second kind of work appears. As the speaker talks about his brother he informs the reader of how hard he works. The brother's work is not the same

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