For the Union Dead

For the Union Dead

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poetshere, , 5-star-poetry, poetry, owned, jingling-of-like-endings, bzgift, poetry, poetry, Poetry, Literature, The United States Of America

For the Union Dead is a well-known 1964 poem by Robert Lowell, published in a book of the same name and originally written for the Boston Arts Festival in 1960 where Lowell first read it in public.The title references Allen Tate's 1928 poem "Ode to the Confederate Dead."

The setting of the poem is the Boston Common near the well-known Robert Gould Shaw Memorial. In the poem, Lowell's visit to the park leads to a series of associations that the dug-up park conjures. First, watching the construction of the underground parking garage beneath the Common makes him think about his childhood and how Boston had changed; in particular, the South Boston Aquarium that he'd visited as a child had recently been demolished in 1954.This leads him to think about the Robert Gould Shaw memorial and the history associated with the memorial (including Robert Gould Shaw and the all-black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that he led). Finally, Lowell thinks of the then-controversial civil rights movement and the images of the integration of black and white schoolchildren that Lowell had recently seen on television.

The final lines of the poem, which read, "The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,/ giant finned cars nose forward like fish;/ a savage servility/ slides by on grease" are particularly well-known for their rather dark description of the large American cars that were popular at the time.

Title:For the Union Dead
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780571135448
Format Type:

    For the Union Dead Reviews

  • Jonfaith

    What can be salvaged from your life? A painthat gently darkens over heart and brain,a fairy's touch, a cobweb's weight of pain,now makes me tremble at your right to live.Lowell perfected his voice, pl...

  • Dan

    This is my favorite of Lowell’s books of poetry. Most of the poems included here are clear and don’t have the opacity that can overwhelm many of Lowell’s other works. So outstanding imagery and ...

  • John Pistelli

    The tag next to Robert Lowell's corpus in the museum of literary history designates him the most influential American poet of the 20th century's second half—less the founder of a school (Confessiona...

  • Andrew Wright

    These are poems that make me feel so close to their author that I find myself quite taken aback when I'm forced to remember "Robert Lowell is dead." I love the sense of horror and wonder in his poems....

  • M.W.P.M.

    Now the midwinter grindis on me, New Yorkdrills my nerves,as I walkthe chewed-up streets.At forty-five,what next, what next?At every corner,I meet my Father,my age, still alive.Father, forgive memy in...

  • Darrel

    This was my first reading of a book of poetry by Robert Lowell. I'd been familiar with his name for years and his books were often recommended to me. In this collection, Lowell covers a broad range of...

  • Griffin Alexander

    Read this the other day while bookselling. Truthfully, only the eponymous poem warrants these two stars--the rest, though with an occasional shining line, is so dated as to feel like its from another ...

  • Ross

    Shed skin will never fit another wearer.In For the Union Dead, Lowell balances the historical allusions and symbolism of modernism with the conversational intimacy and confessional style popular in th...

  • Ephraim Zamzer

    nothing is on fire...

  • Miguel Vega

    I really liked this collection and continues Lowell's confessional writings....