Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes by lawrence ferlinghetti
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Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Different Cultures – Cluster 1. Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Born 1919 Lives in California One of the “Beat Poets” who came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes by lawrence ferlinghetti

Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedesby Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Different Cultures – Cluster 1


Lawrence ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • Born 1919

  • Lives in California

  • One of the “Beat Poets” who came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

  • The poem describes a moment when time is suspended, like a snapshot .

  • Two pairs of people are thrown into contrast. They meet as one couple ends its work and the other is about to begin.

  • The snapshot raises questions about the society which the four people are part of.


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes by lawrence ferlinghetti

At the stoplight waiting for the light

nine am downtown San Francisco

a bright yellow garbage truck

with two garbage men in red plastic blazers

standing on the back stoop

one on each side hanging on

and looking down into

an elegant open Mercedes

with an elegant couple in it

The man

in a hip three-piece linen suit

with shoulder-length blond hair and sunglasses

The young blond woman so casually coifed

with a short skirt and colored stockings

on the way to his architect’s office


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes by lawrence ferlinghetti

And the two scavengers up since four am

grungy from their route

on the way home

The older of the two with grey iron hair

and hunched back

looking down like some

gargoyle Quasimodo

And the younger of the two

also with sunglasses & long hair

about the same age as the Mercedes driver

And both scavengers gazing down

as from a great distance

at the cool couple

as if they were watching some odorless TV ad

in which everything is always possible


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes by lawrence ferlinghetti

And the very red light for an instant

holding all four close together

as if anything at all were possible

between them

across that small gulf

in the high seas

of this democracy


Two scavengers lines 1 9

Two Scavengers ... Lines 1-9

Open, free style (very Californian ?). Each line is a short phrase, a unit of sense or meaning

Informal

American terms (red)

At the stoplight waiting for the light

nine am downtown San Francisco

a bright yellow garbage truck

with two garbage men in red plastic blazers

standing on the back stoop

one on each side hanging on

and looking down into

an elegant open Mercedes

with an elegant couple in it

What are the effects of the repetitions (green) ?

Each line adds a

new piece of

information


Two scavengers lines 10 15

Two Scavengers ... Lines 10-15

Professional, clean, blond, stylish

The man

in a hip three-piece linen suit

with shoulder-length blond hair and sunglasses

The young blond woman so casually coifed

with a short skirt and colored stockings

on the way to his architect’s office

Cumulative effect –

each line adds more,

building the scene


Two scavengers lines 16 25

Two Scavengers ...Lines 16-25

Tired,dirty; one older with grey hair, ugly /deformed; one younger, similar in some ways to Merc driver

And the two scavengers up since four am

grungy from their route

on the way home

The older of the two with grey iron hair

and hunched back

looking down like some

gargoyle Quasimodo

And the younger of the two

also with sunglasses & long hair

about the same age as the Mercedes driver

We are invited to make a comparison


Two scavengers lines 26 30

Two Scavengers ... Lines 26-30

A visual connection: the “scavengers” watch the “beautiful people” as distantly as if they were on a TV ad, part of a fantasy. The beautiful people are “odorless”, unlike the “grungy” garbage men.

A reversal: the garbage men look down on the beautiful people

And both scavengers gazing down

as from a great distance

at the cool couple

as if they were watching some odorless TV ad

in which everything is always possible

Each of the first 4 sections adds

to & builds the description of the

scene


Two scavengers lines 31 37

Two Scavengers ...Lines 31-37

The red light is emphasised. It’s what brings the 4 together in this snapshot

And the very red light for an instant

holding all four close together

as if anything at all were possible

between them

across that small gulf

in the high seas

of this democracy

What is possible between them ?

In “this democracy” (USA), how big is the gulf between rich and poor ? A “small gulf” but in “high seas”

The fifth section is a pause for

reflection and conclusion


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes1

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

The poem has 5 sections:

Lines 1 – 9 set the scene

Lines 10 – 15 describe the beautiful people

Lines 16 – 25 describe the scavengers

Lines 26 – 30 suggest a comparison

Lines 31 – 37 sum up the scene and raise a question for readers


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes2

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

  • Lines 1 – 9 establish the time and place very exactly. 9am, downtown San Francisco, traffic lights.

  • Two garbage collectors (“scavengers”), wearing red jackets, are symmetrically positioned on a bright yellow truck, looking down into an open car, at a couple who are very different from them.


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes3

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

  • Lines 10 – 15 describe the beautiful people in the Mercedes: professional, clean, blond, fashionable, stylish. They are on the way to work in “his architect’s office”.

  • Lines 16 – 25 describe the garbage collectors: tired, dirty, one ugly and deformed, the other similar to the Mercedes driver in age and in some points of appearance. They are on the way home from work, “up since 4 am”.


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes4

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes

  • Lines 26 – 30 establish a visual connection: the “scavengers” watch the “beautiful people” as distantly as if they were on a TV ad, like part of a fantasy. The beautiful people are “odorless”, unlike the “grungy” garbage men.

  • Lines 31 – 37 return to the coincidence of their being in the same place at the same time. The red light, which has caused the coincidence, is emphasised as “very red”. The illusion of a connection is repeated (“as if anything at all were possible between them”).

    The poem ends by asking whether the gulf between them is great or small (it’s a “small gulf”, but it’s on the “high seas”)

    and whether the democracy they are all part of is capable of bridging the gap.


How two scavengers is written 1 shape and sense

How “Two Scavengers” is written. 1. Shape and Sense

  • Written in 37 short lines.

  • An open, free style.

  • 2 – 9 words in a line.

  • 2 – 13 syllables per line.

  • Each line is a short phrase, a unit of sense or meaning.

  • Within each of the 5 sections, each line adds a new point of information to the previous lines, developing the description of the scene in a cumulative way.

  • The sequence of the first 4 sections has a similar cumulative effect, building the description of the scene. The last section is a pause for reflection on what is being observed.

  • The cumulative effect of building the scene is emphasised by the use of “And...and...and” to begin lines and sections.


How two scavengers is written 2 visual description

How “Two Scavengers” is written. 2. Visual Description

  • Description is straightforward and precise and focuses specifically on visual information.

  • Colour is important: red, yellow, blond, grey, very red.

  • It is easy to visualise the scene. We are invited to observe a snapshot and draw conclusions about the connections between the people involved.

  • There is an emphasis on visual connections when the garbage men observe the cool couple like watching a TV ad.


How two scavengers is written 3 use of language

How “Two Scavengers” is written. 3. Use of Language

  • Language is plain and simple.

  • There is frequent use of informal, everyday American terms: downtown (commercial centre of the city), stoop (step), hip, grungy, cool.

  • Frequent use of alliteration (not shown above in the text) gives pattern and texture to the language. Examples:

    standing/stoop casually/coifed grungy/grey/gargoyle

    gazing down/great distance cool/couple

  • The accumulation of detail, emphasised by the use of “And...and...and” gives the poem energy and immediacy, appropriate to the idea of its being a live scene stopped for us to observe.

  • Repetitions also help to build the energy: elegant/elegant, blond/blond, possible/possible

  • Description of the “beautiful people” is ironic/mocking: beautiful, blond, elegant, cool


Two scavengers in a truck two beautiful people in a mercedes5

Two Scavengers in a Truck,Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes


Two scavengers three tasks

“Two Scavengers” Three tasks.

  • Compare the ways in which the two couples are described (Lines 10 – 15 and 16 – 25). Comment on the fact that the younger garbage man is similar in some ways to the Mercedes driver. How similar is he (or will he become) to the older garbage man ?

  • Compare the working lives of the two couples.

  • What do you think is the poet’s view of the democracy that he and the two couples are part of ?


Two scavengers comparison with another poem

“Two Scavengers”Comparison with another poem

  • You can compare the social division suggested in “Two Scavengers” with that described in “Nothing’s Changed”.


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