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All American Sestina by Florence Cassen Myers Literature Review essay example
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All American Sestina by Florence Cassen Myers Literature Review

All American Sestina by Florence Cassen Myers

This remarkable poem is surely one of the finest which has ever been written to describe the American Dream and all its fallacies and controversies. First of all it manages to create a situation where the American Dream is constantly invoked and described as something which is full of ambiguities. In one of the passages, Myers describes a ‘six pack Bud’ in the sense that this epitomizes the obvious imbalances that there are with fantasy and reality.
Myers also has other interesting aspects in the poem which create a sense of archaic dominance and there are some rather negative views of America in the whole scene painting. The stereotypical image of the ‘two-car garage’ and the ‘two tone Chevy is intriguing also as it brings out the American persona’s fixation. There are also those victorious tones of ‘three cheers’ and the ‘Five Star General’ which continue to epitomize the American fantasy with military proceedings and suchlike.
Myers also tackled the modern and much more materialistic facets of America when she describes quite fascinatingly such as the ‘five karat diamond’ which is one of the best descriptions of the American lust for material things. This is further exacerbated by the fact that American materialism is constantly on the rise and nothing seems to be able to stop it. Myers continually reflects on the economic frailties of the American Dream which cannot only be personified in materialistic terms.
The sestina is also structured in an interesting manner with several verses in six stages which create a sense of foreboding and longing for something which is better and more realistic. Myers handles all the aspects of the poem’s structure with remarkable dexterity and astuteness turning out a poem of true high class.

Analysis of the poem:

The poem is structured in such a way that it creates a sense of satire and foreboding at the same time with several parts of it being quite intriguing. Naturally there is a sense of the superiority of the Americans as these are often described as the ‘master race’ on a number of occasions but they are also rather intriguing in several aspects. The short lines are nonetheless quite striking in their penetrative aspect and they depict an America which is constantly on the move apart from being constantly in decline in various other aspects.
The poem is also direct in the sense that the short phrases show the brutality of American commercialism and materialism in just a few subtle words. Naturally enough one has to search for meanings which are deeper within the text but there are also some rather bullish messages especially where the sense of American might as a nation is concerned.

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Conclusion:

One cannot be totally sure what Myers meant with this poem but in a sense there is a stereotypical view of negative America in it. One cannot always insist that the words are obvious although the short, sharp and direct messages provide some intrinsic background to the story. There is a sense of sarcasm and literary bullishness to everything and the sestina style is a continuously interesting way of portraying certain emotions without too much hassle and inconvenience. All in all, Myers’ work is one of the greats of American literature and certainly deserves much more exposure on all fronts.

References:

Cassen Myers F (1996); All American Sestina; Retrieved from: https://sites.google.com/site/phinehaspoetry/home/all-american-sestina
Strand M, Bolan V (2001); The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms; W.W Norton

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