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Glory. By: Yusef Komunyakaa. Background. In 1947, Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and the oldest of five children He was originally named James Willie Brown, but reclaimed the last name that his grandparents had given up when they came to America from Trinidad

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glory

Glory

By: Yusef Komunyakaa

background
Background
  • In 1947, Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and the oldest of five children
  • He was originally named James Willie Brown, but reclaimed the last name that his grandparents had given up when they came to America from Trinidad
  • Komunyakaa graduated high school in 1965 and went straight into the army
  • He served in Vietnam as an editor for the military newspaper Southern Cross and as an information specialist
  • He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service
  • In 1973 he began writing poetry and went to the University of Colorado and graduated in 1975
  • His first book of poems, Dedications & Other Darkhorses, was published in 1977, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979
  • In 1979 he also earned a Master’s degree at Colorado State University, and another in 1980 from the University of California at Irvine
  • Komunyakaa started out teaching in the New Orleans public school system and went on to teach at several universities across America including University of New Orleans, Colorado State University, University of California at Irvine and at Berkeley, and Indiana University at Bloomington
  • He is currently the Humanities Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University
  • He married a fiction writer from Australia named Mandy Sayer
his work
His Work
  • Komunyakaa grew up in the south during the Civil Rights movement and served in Vietnam which are the two main inspirations of his poetry
  • His work is known for its short lines, its simple vernacular, its jazzy feel, and its rootedness in the poet's experience as a black of the American South, and as a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.
  • Komunyakaa first received wide recognition following the 1984 publication of his work Copacetic
  • He won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his volume Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • He is also well known for his book of poems Magic City which is about his childhood and growing up with racial tension
  • Other awards that he have won include: 2 Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981, 1987), The Thomas Forcade Award (1991), The Hanes Poetry Prize (1997), Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets (1999), and The Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1998)
glory1
Glory

Most were married teenagers

Working knockout shifts daybreak

To sunset six days a week –

Already old men Playing ball

In a field between a row of shotgun houses

& the Magazine Lumber Company.

They were all Jackie Robinson

& Willie Mays, a touch of

Josh Gibson & Satchell Paige

In each stance and swing, a promise

Like a hesitation pitch always

At the edge of their lives,

Arms sharp as rifles.

The Sunday afternoon heat

Flared like thin flowered skirts

As children and wives cheered.

The men were like cats

Running backwards to snag

Pop-ups & high-flies off

Fences, stealing each other’s glory.

The old deacons & raconteurs

Who umpired made an Out or Safe

Into a song & dance routine.

Runners hit the dirt

& slid into home plate,

Cleats catching light,

As they conjured escapes, outfoxing

Double plays. In the few seconds

It took a man to eye a women

Upon the makeshift bleachers,

A stolen base or homerun

Would help another man

Survive the new week.

poetic elements
Poetic Elements
  • “Most were married teenagers working knockout shifts”
    • This is a metaphor saying that their work is so tough it almost knocks them out
  • “Already old men playing ball”
    • This is a metaphor comparing the young men to old men because their encounter to such adult things and the difficulty from their work makes the young men seem older
  • “They were all Jackie Robinson & Willie Mays, a touch of Josh Gibson & Satchell Paige”
    • This is assonance because of the ‘a’ sound in Mays and Paige
  • “… Satchel Paige in each stance & swing, a promise.”
    • This is alliteration because of the repetition of the ‘s’ sound in Satchel, stance and swing
  • “Cleats catching light, as they conjured escapes”
    • This is also alliteration because of the repetition of the ‘c’ sound in cleats, catching and conjured
  • “Arms sharp as rifles”
    • This is a simile comparing a rifle to a players arm because they are throwing hard and accurate, or sharp, as a rifle
  • “The Sunday afternoon heat flared like thin flowered skirts as children and wives cheered”
    • This is a simile and imagery because he is describing the way the women watching the game looked to add more detail
  • “The men were like cats running backwards to snag pop-ups & high-flies off fences, stealing each other’s glory.”
    • This is the last simile comparing the players to cats because they were trying to catch a ball like a cat trying to get a ball thrown to them
  • The poem is a free verse because it has no consistent meter or rhyme pattern
meaning
Meaning
  • The poem speaks generally about the stress put on teenagers but specifically the young, working class African Americans in the south
  • “Most were married teenagers Working knockout shifts daybreak To sunset six days a week – Already old men Playing ball.”
    • In these lines Komunyakaa says the teenagers are “already old men playing ball” because they are exposed to the hard life which an adult experiences. They try to forget about their hardships by focusing on the game. They play the sport to relieve them of the stress that the long, difficult shifts put on them.
  • Kobena Mercer says that, “Social definitions of what it is to be a man, about what constitutes ‘manliness,’ are not ‘natural’ but are historically constructed and this construction is culturally variable…Black male gender identities have been culturally constructed through complex dialectics of power” Komunyakaa is also speaking about these player’s masculinity and this quote shows that what these player’s think they need to be a man is power. They get power through their skill at the sport. This is why Komunyakaa says, “A stolen base or homerun Would help another man Survive the new week.” The glory that they get from that feeling of power can get them through their difficult days at work.
  • “The men were like cats Running backwards to snag Pop-ups & high-flies off Fences, stealing each other’s glory.”
    • These linesshow the men doing all they can to get this glory and it also further shows the men not thinking about their jobs where they are overworked and underpaid all day because they do not have time to think about their hardships but only concentrate on what their eyes are set on at the moment.
theme and tone
Theme and Tone
  • The theme of this poem is that every thing will work out in the end and never give up because if there is something difficult in your life, like the long work days for these men, there is also something good in your life, like the game for the men, that can get your mind off it and get you through it so it does work out in the end.
  • The tone of the poem would be rejuvenation and hopefulness
    • Rejuvenation because the men feel older then they are because of their work and baseball makes them feel young again and livens them up
    • Hopefulness because the game is giving them the hope and strength they need to get through the day without cracking under the pressure that is being put on them through their work
  • The metaphor “Already old men playing ball” effects the tone because it shows that they need to be rejuvenated by the game and become young again
  • The simile “The men were like cats running backwards to snag pop-ups & high-flies off fences, stealing each other’s glory” backs-up the theme proving that these men never give up
connections
Connections
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMZGOnFer4k
  • We connected this poem to Bob Marley’s song Three Little Birds, because he is saying that everything will be alright like the theme of the poem that everything will work out in the end. Also, where the men have baseball to get through their tough time, he has the three little birds.
  • For the previous reading connection, we connected it to Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket by Jack Finney
  • In this story the man is always working to hard and when he is in his difficult spot, on the side of the building, he started to think about his wife, something good in his life to get him through, just as the men turn to baseball