A very short poem (two lines) by Ezra Pound describing the experience of metro travel. Themes: American culture, technology, anonymity/isolation/public privacy.
Instructors’ Teaching Experience
I taught this poem on a day that my class debated the question, “What is America?” I chose three other poems from our Anthology from different time periods, styles, etc. and asked my students to consider what each author’s “America” looked like. Then, they had to think about what their “America” looked like. Overall, the exercise was very useful and my students seemed to enjoy thinking about America as a common/diverse experience. I would caution, however, that this poem was significantly less approachable (apparently) than the other three I chose. In future, I would suggest using this poem in a whole-class discussion where you demonstrate what you’re asking them to do and them give them four other poems to work on in groups. I felt that my students wanted me to lead them through this poem because they were overwhelmed by its brevity. [Vanessa Nakoski]
This poem is great for thinking about word choice! Since it is so short, students can be overwhelmed by the task of interpreting it, but when you break it down word-by-word they gain some confidence. Personally, I think the best way to approach this poem is to have students get into groups and think through the connotations and meanings of each word (there are so few that there is usually time for this). For example, to tackle the word “apparition” I have students do a bit of visualization; I ask them to picture the last time they stood in a metro station and think about the experience in terms of sound, motion, and sight. They quickly realize how uncanny/ghostly/startling the experience can be. [Vanessa Nakoski]