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McKay, Claude. "America".

Summary

The speaker describes America as a cruel and wicked country which is destroying him but he loves this "cultured hell" anyway. He claims that she hates him and compares her to a beast which sinks her "tiger's tooth" into his throat.

In her hate he however finds power to oppose and rebel. He claims not to sneer at the country, not to feel any malice against her. But he sees an apocalyptic future: America though all her present greatness will be swept by the hand of Time.

 

Analysis

- the form (a Shakespearean sonnet) and the content create a discrepancy: the traditional form contrasts with the frank confession and turbulent emotions expressed in the poem

- the poem's theme is certainly not a traditional celebration of the country, the poem abounds in contrary emotions and attitudes

- ambiguousness: does the speaker mean his "love" to America ironically? Or does he love her because he believes she will not last forever? Or does he hope to break her hatred against him by his love?

Basics

  • Author

    McKay, Claude. (1889 - 1948).
  • Full Title

    "America".
  • First Published

    1921.
  • Form

    Poem.

Works Cited

McKay, Claude. "America". (1921). In: The Harper American Literature. Ed. Donald McQuade et al. 2nd Compact Edition. NY: Harper & Collins, 1996.

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