Stanza 1 opens at the scene of an automobile accident. It describes the ambulance taking the body's and putting them on stretchers and going to the hospital. This stanza has a lot of alliteration suggesting the urgency of the situation; "Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating.(1)" Stanza 1 starts the poem in a very grim setting. The doors of the ambulance represent death. When the ambulance arrives "The doors leap open" (8), the reader sees the decline of life when the doors close; "And the ambulance with its terrible cargo/ Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,/ As the doors, an afterthought, are closed (12-14).
The onlookers of the accident wonder in a "deranged" (15) state of mind. Stanza 2 focuses on the "cops" (15) at the scene. The police officers complete the many jobs involved in dealing with an automobile accident. One cleans the streets, one takes notes, and one "Hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling (20)." Police officers deal with this everyday, it is their job. Compared to the onlookers who seem in shock they are "composed"(16).
Starting off with a simile describing the onlookers defines the transformation from shock to recovery; "Our throats were tight as tourniquets (22)."The people joke about the accident to take away the seriousness of the accident they observe; "We speak with sickly smiles and warn/ With the stubborn saw of common sense (25-26)." The bystanders notice the seriousness when they realize it could have been them in the accident; "But we remain, touching a wound/ That opens to our richest horror (29-30)."
Stanza 4 moves from description to philosophical questions. "Who shall die? (31)" asks the onlookers. The death in this accident has no definition like war and suicide; "For death in war is done by hands;/ Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic (33-34)." People depend on explanation and logic. An accident's explanation or just cause does not come from science. The justification must come from the...
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