Professor Amy Clukey
Due Date: September 22, 2011
Most Painful Memories:
An Explication of Edward Mayes’ “University of Iowa, 1976”
Take a minute to imagine “Men looking like they had been/attacked repeatedly by a succession /of wild animals,” “never/ ending blasted field of corpses,” and “throats half gone, /eyes bleeding, raw meat heaped/ in piles.” These are the vividly, grotesque images Edward Mayes describes to readers in his poem, “University of Iowa Hospital, 1976.” Before even reading the poem, the title gave me a preconceived idea of what the poem might be about. “University of Iowa Hospital, 1976” describes what an extreme version of what I expected the poem to be about. The images I described above are just some of the horrifying scenes described by Mayes. This poem spoke to me about the pain and suffering patients endure while staying in a hospital (whether it be a mental hospital or a medical hospital) and the horrific images the staff see daily. Mayes uses several types of imagery and literary tropes in his poem to give readers an intense visual sensation as they read his poem. The visuals Mayes placed in my own mind while I read this poem were intensely real and stuck with me long after I studied the poem.
The tone of “University of Iowa Hospital, 1976” is dark and painful. Mayes wants the readers to not only feel the way the speaker felt when entering the hospital, but also how the patients in the hospital suffered. He uses literary tropes to make reader’s emotions react to the tone of the poem. A metaphor is a literary trope often used in poetry to make a comparison between two objects to give the audience a deeper sense of what he is comparing; his metaphors compare non-related objects or feelings that have a similar quality. He uses two very different metaphors to describe the pain the patients are feeling. “Pain is a steady/fall from a high place, one with/no view, no vision...
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