Analyzing Sutzkever's 'A Cartload Of Shoes'

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Taylor Rae Passaro Professor Fabbro ENG 108-001 October 20, 2014 Paper 1 In the Holocaust this vision of the cosmic order was turned on its head. For people were either reduced to the lowest order of animal- exterminable vermin- or transformed into inanimate matter- soap or lampshades. Conversely, inanimate things- shoes, for example- received the highest value. The tone of this poem is extremely diverse. Sutzkever’s voice is muffled by the very weight of his grief. All intellectual or aesthetic considerations capitulate to his pain. Although the poem is further marked by different architectonic patterns, it draws surprisingly close in diction, revealing recurrent images and rhythms. Deviating from his usual elegant associations of images,…show more content…
Heretofore, Hebrew was the literary idiom. Sutzkever’s early pantheistic experimentation and later brilliant linguistic manipulations as well as sensual lyricism did not prevent him from locating an axis between the folk beginnings of modern Yiddish poetry, earlier medieval liturgical lamentations, and the tragedy he writes about in “A Cartload of Shoes.” In this, Sutzkever reflects the ethos of his people who, in recalling historical antecedents, project a vision of hope for the future and find consolation in their ability to survive…show more content…
This poem shares with the ballad an unembellished vocabulary and directness of narrative line. Metaphoric language is replaced by incremental repetitions of significant words (turning, wagon, shoes, feet) and a repeated questioning pattern in seven out of nine stanzas. The poem’s effect derives from the fusion of lyrical, epic, and dramatic qualities. It starts in medias res and moves episodically in abrupt leaps, focusing on a single event- namely, the shipment of shoes to Berlin. There are no allusions to what preceded this; nor do extensive descriptions burden the story line. Thus the narrative is carried forward with mounting tension to its dramatic pointe. This sudden twist occurs not at the conclusion of the poem, as it does in many ballads, but rather at its center, as the poet realized the cargo’s contents. Furthermore, the poem is marked by an eeriness that evokes both uneasiness and suspense. These elements are sustained over lines, including the balladic refrain. The meter is distinguished by its alertness. The stanza form is a quatrain, mostly of alternating three- and two- stress lines with an a b a b rhyme

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