“Pantoum of the Great Depression” By Donald Justice. Would somebody please tell me what a Pantoum is – and what’s so Great about the Depression??? Oh, and who is this Justice dude?. Works Cited. Donald Justice.
Would somebodypleasetell me what a Pantoum is – and what’s so Great about the Depression??? Oh, and who is this Justice dude?
Justice uses “Pantoum of the Great Depression” to reflect on his life in Florida during the 1930s. Herejects the popular sentimentthat the Depression was a tragic event, and makes his point bycontrastingit withClassical tragedy. “His graceful, down-to-earth poetic voice gently calls our attention to the simplest of things… Justice has a gift for understanding how subtlety and simplicity are effective means for touching readers on deep levels and for forming a bond of mutual discovery.(St. John, 1891).”
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Our lives avoided tragedySimply by going on and on,Without end and with little apparent meaning.Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
Simply by going on and onWe managed. No need for the heroic.Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.I don't remember all the particulars.
We managed. No need for the heroic.There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.I don’t remember all the particulars.Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus. There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrowsThank god no one said anything in verse.The neighbors were our only chorus,And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.Click Here
At no time did anyone say anything in verse.It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.No audience would ever know our story. It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.What audience would ever know our story?Beyond our windows shone the actual world.Click Here
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.And time went by, drawn by slow horses.Somewhere beyond our windows shown the world. And time went by, drawn by slow horses.We did not ourselves know what the end was.The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.Click Here
But we did not ourselves know what the end was.People like us simply go on.We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.Back to Slide 1
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In Classical Tragedy, “The Chorus rejoiced in the triumph of good; it wailed aloud its grief, and sympathized with the woe of the puppets of the gods. It entered deeply into the interest of their fortunes and misfortunes, yet it stood apart, outside of triumph and failure… It was the ideal spectator, the soul being purged, as Aristotle expressed it, by Pity and Fear, flinging its song and its cry among the passions and the pain of others. It was the "Vox Humana" amid the storm and thunder of the gods (Watt, 5)”.
Neither Justice nor his neighbors were tragic heroes. They had to act as the chorus for one another. They were going through the same things and they were sympathetic.
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“70-75 percent of families still had incomes and concentrated on ‘making do.’ …Nothing edible was ever thrown out or wasted, Left-overs always reappeared over the next few days. Sunday’s roast would be Monday’s stew, or hash, then Tuesday’s vegetable beef soup, and so on. Liquid from jars or cans of vegetables became a base for soup, and juice from canned fruit could be thickened and poured over bread and cakes. Indeed, homemakers found many ways to ‘make do’ (Food: 1929-1941, 21-22).”Back to the Poem
There appeared to be no sense of direction. Where was the way out of this dilemma? It was as though we had succumbed to a mental fog, too, and couldn’t begin to think of how to help ourselves.
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“The Great Depression was a global economic crisis that started in 1929. The crisis devastated the economies of many nations and led to a period of financial hardship for millions of people. In the history of the United States, no other depression had had such a devastating impact on U.S. society. During the 12 years of the depression, one-quarter of the work force was unemployed, 5,500 banks closed, and 32,000 businesses went bankrupt” (“Great Depression”).More Information about the Great DepressionBack to Slide 1