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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

BALLAD OF GENE DEBS, by                 Poet's Biography

"Ballad of Gene Debs" is a poem by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn that pays tribute to Eugene V. Debs, an American socialist leader and five-time candidate for president of the United States. The poem was first published in The New Republic in 1926.

Explanation:

The poem is written in the form of a ballad, with a steady rhythm and a simple, repetitive structure. The poem tells the story of Gene Debs and his tireless efforts to fight for the rights of workers and the working class. The poem describes Debs as a man of great conviction and courage, willing to stand up to the powerful forces of capitalism and fight for justice.

The ballad speaks to the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of adversity and opposition. It celebrates the spirit of resistance and the power of collective action, urging readers to follow in Debs' footsteps and continue the struggle for social justice and equality.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: "Ballad of Gene Debs" is written in ballad form, with a simple, repetitive structure and a steady rhythm. The poem consists of six stanzas, each with four lines, and a repeating refrain. The use of ballad form gives the poem a sense of timelessness and universality, allowing it to speak to the struggles of workers and the fight for justice in any era. The use of repetition and rhyme creates a sense of unity and continuity, reflecting the theme of collective action and solidarity.
  • Form: The poem is written in ballad form, with a simple, repetitive structure and a steady rhythm.
  • Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to bring to life the struggles and triumphs of Gene Debs and the labor movement.
  • Allusion: The poem references the Pullman Strike of 1894, a major turning point in the labor movement that Debs played a key role in.
  • Metaphor: None
  • Symbolism: Gene Debs is portrayed as a symbol of the struggle for workers' rights and social justice.

Conclusion:

"Ballad of Gene Debs" is a powerful and inspiring poem that pays tribute to the legacy of Eugene V. Debs and the struggles of the labor movement. The poem celebrates the spirit of resistance and the power of collective action, urging readers to continue the fight for social justice and equality.

*NOTE: Eugene Debs (1855-1926) was an American labor leader, socialist politician, and five-time candidate for President of the United States. He got involved in organized labor in the 1870s and rose to prominence as a leader of the American Railway Union (ARU) in the 1890s. In 1905, Debs helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical labor union that sought to unite all workers regardless of skill or industry. He also ran for President five times as the nominee of the Socialist Party. Although he never won the presidency, he inspired many with his dedication to social justice and his calls for fundamental change in American society


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