“All Their Stanzas Look Alike”

As I was reading through the Norton anthology, Angles of Ascent, there were several poems that stood out to me. I found Thomas Sawyer Ellis’ poem All Their Stanzas Look Alike on page 317 to be the one that captivated me the most. The title definitely intrigued me and drew me into the poem. You have the ambiguous “stanzas” which could be interpreted literally as other poets stanzas all looking the same, or figuratively and the speaker in fact not speaking about stanzas at all.  For my close reading, I chose the latter. At first glance, this poem seemed to be about someone’s life feeling mundane and the same every day. And then I realized that the “their” the speaker was talking about was an entire group of people; the white population all around them. I particularly enjoyed the lines, “All their plantations/ All their assassinations/ All their stanzas look alike”. As I read the line regarding plantations I could “see” clearly what the speaker was referencing. In films and novels (including ones written today) a plantation is normally portrayed as a large white house in the south surrounded by acres upon acres of land, and nine times out of ten that large white house will have a porch with a swing. When it comes to the assassinations, I had to ponder for a while what this could mean. I came to realize that the speaker could be alluding to the white plantation-owners murdering the black slaves. I also began to think on the past assassinations of presidents, and how although it was white men that committed the crime, there was a horribly negative stereotype placed onto the black population as a whole. Although, it was always white men committing these murders/assassinations, still in today’s society there is an idea that black men are to be feared, when in reality it should probably be the reverse.

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