Donald Justice's poem entitled "The Missing Person" gives the reader an image of a person who does not know who they really are. Many people suffer from this lack of knowledge as to who they are and what significance their presence holds in this busy world. What does one do when all they have is themselves and they don't even know who they are? "The Missing Person" explores this dilemma. The poem speaks from deep down into the depths of a persons mind. It conveys a place that many do not wish to talk about, a place where we hold all of our truths, lies, doubts, fears, and much more.
"He has come to report himself(1)` A missing person(2)`. The authorities(3)` Hand him the forms(4)." These first four lines do not actually mean the man is missing because it is quite hard to lose yourself. What the man is saying is he does not know who he really is. He doesn't mean he does not know his name, age, or where he lives, he means he does not know himself deep down inside. He does not know his true self.
Justice writes "He knows how they have waited(5)` With the learned patience of barbers(6)` In small shops, idle(7)` Stropping their razors(8)." What he means by the authorities "waiting" like barbers is that he has led this long life of being confused about himself and possibly other things too and he has reached a point where he may reach out for help to find himself and fix his confusion. The word patience in the two lines "He knows how they have waited(5)` With the learned patience of barbers(6)" is very important in showing that he has felt this confusion about who he is for a very long time. Someone has to have patience to wait for something, just like barbers who sit "stropping their razors(8)" until their next haircut comes along. Whoever is going to help this man find himself, whether it is someone else or himself, they have waited a long time. This makes the reader believe he may be slightly older, maybe middle aged or older.
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