Poem Analysis of Awakening in New York
The poem Awakening in New York is a poem that is presented in a personal manner as reflected by the author’s use of the pronoun “I”. However, despite the show of a personal point of view, the poem is not targeted for a specific sex. Hence, male and female readers can both relate to the poem.
At first glance, the poem presents a picture of someone who is waking up in the city of New York. This is present in the way the words are used. However, when you read with deeper understanding, the reader can deduce that the poem is filled with imagery. If viewed and understood this way, the poem reflects the author’s inner reflection of the world.
In the first part, “Curtains forcing their will against the wind,” the author paints a picture. When you read this part, you can picture out probably a room with large windows. There are curtains in these windows swaying and busting open as the wind blows. In imagery, this picture can take several points. The windows may represent the author or the author’s emotions. The curtains may be a person’s will and the strength to withstand struggles or they could represent the author’s hold and control of their emotions. The wind may be problems or struggles that a person experiences in life. This part could mean that the problems a person experiences in life can sometimes become overwhelming and despite how strong the person is, these problems can no longer be blocked out. These problems can be overwhelming enough to cause people to break the hold they have on their emotions and they become overwhelmed with pain, sorrow, regrets, feeling of failure, and more. However, it does not say in the poem that the curtains are blown away which means that despite not being able to block out these problems, the author could simply have let these problems and their aftermaths run their course. It could mean that there is still hope.
The poem then proceeds to “children sleep, exchanging dreams with seraphim.” This part may represent the author’s desire to simply escape all the overwhelming problems in life and just go back to be a child. A child who does not have to face problems adults have to deal with daily. This shows that maybe the author is experiencing problems in life and is simply wishing to escape all those problems.
“The city drags itself awake on subway straps.” In this line, the city may depict the society in general. It could be that the author is depicting that despite the feeling of being overwhelmed by problems, also perhaps pain and sorrow, life goes on. People go to work and live life, no matter how hard.
The author then ends the poem with this line, “I, an alarm, awake as a rumor of war, lie stretching into dawn, unasked and unheeded.” The author’s use of an inanimate object, the alarm clock, as a representation of one’s self could show several images. It could be that they do not harbor the feeling of being someone special. It could be that because of the trials in life, they just wake up, work, eat, sleep, and do whatever, mechanically. Just like how an alarm clock works mechanically. “War” could mean conflict. It could be that the author is experiencing a conflict of interest, an inner conflict, or the overall chaos and problems experienced in life. The line “lie stretching into dawn, unasked and unheeded” could mean that despite living in New York, the author may feel insignificant. Whether the author wakes or sleeps, the hustle and bustle of the city go on. They feel that their existence in the city is unimportant and unneeded.
The entire poem presents an image of being oppressed by personal demons of inner turmoil and conflict. The author seems to harbor a feeling of surrender and hopelessness. As depicted by the lines of the poem, they seem to show nonchalance as well. They seem to have accepted the fact of their insignificance compared to others in the city of New York and so, they live life mechanically. Things come and go. There is no need to dwell on those problems. just accept them and move on.
The poem, although presented in a personal view, is relatable to any reader in the sense that all people experience problems in life. These problems may come in many forms and sometimes, despite the efforts to tune them out, they simply become too much. When this happens, there are only two ways on how people address these problems, either to solve them or just let them be. However, despite which course a person takes, there will be lasting marks that are left behind. These marks do not have to be physical. These marks could be emotional conflicts, inner turmoil, regrets. When these marks pile up, someone may end up living mechanically. Working, viewing and living everything in stride. But, there is still hope as well. While there is life, a person can still move on and find beautiful and better things in life to help them start anew.