9/11 by Robert Pinsky

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Without falling into jingoism or being over-sentimental, Robert Pinsky's poem "9/11" generates a commendable ode to the spirit that drives this country, in addition to revealing the American culture for what it truly is – enthusiastic and frivolous, courageous and fallible, petty and resilient. For most Americans, September 10th is Before, and everything since is After.

Citizens from every state across the U.S. responded immediately to the attacks by giving blood and donating much-needed items to shelters, where an overwhelming amount of aid was sent to assist the itinerant victims. However, it's ironic that the American people – who were so benevolent and charitable for the populace of the 9/11 tragedy – would turn their backs on and as soon as forget about the southern states devastated by Hurricane Katrina. American's own self-centeredness gave way and gave way to greed, when the Louisiana didn't receive the same helpful consideration New York. The American culture has evolved to thrive off of mass media and digital information on such a large scale; it's no wonder that we've become primarily a visual society:

"We adore images, we like the spectacle
Of speed and size, the working of prodigious
Systems. So on television we watched

The terrible spectacle, repetitiously gazing
Until we were sick not only of the sight
Of our prodigious systems turned against us

But of the very systems of our watching." (Lines 1-7)

The American psyche has a weird fascination, a tendency bordering on curious attraction to "repetitiously gaze" (line 4). This inclination came to a peak during the September 11th attacks while most people willingly, yet reluctantly, watched image after image of the same newsreels for days on end. In the poem, there were also numerous references to the American culture and its love of visual media and celebrities, such that we are "more likely to name an airport for an actor / or athlete than ‘First of May' or ‘Fourth of July' (lines...
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