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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

IDENTITY, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Identity" is a poem written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, an American poet, novelist, and editor. The poem was first published in 1869.


The poem was written during the mid-19th century in America, a time marked by rapid industrialization and social change. The poem reflects the psychological and philosophical ideas of the time and explores themes of identity and self-discovery.


The poem is a reflective meditation on the nature of identity and the human search for self-knowledge. The narrator contemplates the many different roles and identities that people adopt throughout their lives, and wonders which of these is the true self. The poem is a philosophical exploration of the complexities of human identity, and the many ways in which we construct and define ourselves.


The poem is written in free verse, a form that does not adhere to a strict meter or rhyme scheme. The form is well-crafted, with a flowing rhythm and a musical quality that enhances its impact.

Poetic Elements:

Aldrich employs a number of poetic elements to create a vivid and thought-provoking exploration of human identity. The poem is rich in metaphor, with descriptions of people as actors on a stage, each playing different roles and adopting different personas. The poem also makes use of repetition, as the refrain "Who am I?" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the central theme of the search for self-knowledge. Additionally, the poem uses imagery to create a vivid and evocative picture of the complexities of human identity.


"Identity" is a thought-provoking and introspective poem that explores the nature of human identity and the search for self-knowledge. Aldrich's use of poetic elements, such as metaphor and repetition, adds depth and richness to the poem and enhances its emotional impact. The poem's themes of identity and self-discovery are universal and timeless, and the narrator's search for the true self is a powerful and relatable exploration of the human experience. Overall, "Identity" is a masterful work of poetry that demonstrates Aldrich's skill as a poet and his deep appreciation for the complexities of human identity.

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