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THE PERFORMANCE, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

Title: "The Performance"

Author: James Dickey

Form: Free verse poem with irregular line lengths and no meter

Publication date: 1960

The Performance" by James Dickey, published in 1960, is a poem that explores the theme of identity and the struggle to find meaning and purpose in life. The poem is based on the speaker's experience of attending a performance of a symphony orchestra, and the ways in which this experience inspires him to reflect on his own sense of identity and purpose.

Poetic Elements:

Imagery: Dickey's language is rich in sensory detail, with vivid images of the symphony orchestra and the speaker's reflections on his own life. For example, he describes "the long necks of the violins," "the conductor...like a wild and noble animal," and "the darkness of the hall."

Diction: Dickey's word choices are simple and direct, conveying a sense of clarity and immediacy in the poem's exploration of identity and purpose. Words like "performance," "identity," and "meaning" convey the poem's themes of self-discovery and the search for purpose.

Tone: The poem has a contemplative and introspective tone, as the speaker reflects on his own sense of identity and the meaning of the performance. The poem's imagery and language create a sense of wonder and awe in the face of the beauty and complexity of the symphony.

Figurative language: Dickey uses several metaphors and symbols throughout the poem. For example, the symphony orchestra is described as a symbol of the beauty and complexity of human experience, while the conductor is described as a symbol of leadership and inspiration.

Structure: Free verse poem that  has no set meter or rhyme scheme, with irregular line lengths and no strict form. The lack of structure contributes to the poem's sense of spontaneity and immediacy, emphasizing the urgency and importance of the speaker's reflections on identity and purpose.

In summary, "The Performance" is a powerful reflection on the search for identity and purpose in the face of the complexity and beauty of human experience. The poem's rich imagery, simple language, and powerful metaphors make it a compelling exploration of the complexity and beauty of human experience.


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