Good Critical Thinking On Birthplace: New Rochelle

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Time, Children, Speaker, Literature, Family, Parents, Father, Poetry

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2020/12/01

The American poet George Oppen was born in New Rochelle and hence the poem “Birthplace: New Rochelle” written by him sounds so much like his own personal experience. In the poem, the speaker is visiting his house at his birthplace that prompted him to ponder on the changes inflicted by the time in everything. He speaks about all the things that have stood the test of time like the “rounded rocks” (2), “ground” (8), “suns’ light”(10) and “stones in the sun”(15). The house, being his father’s, reminds him of the times his father had spent there. Like those non living things that remained unchanged in the flow of time, the childhood memories or the memories of his father’s time stay the same in his mind. When the speaker realises that nothing much has changed about the “world of things” (3) that existed there, simultaneously he becomes conscious of the fact that old age has dawned upon him. Once a child, he now view himself as “an aging man” (4) with jointed knuckles. When he tells “my child” (12) we think about Oppen’s child. When Oppen had penned this poem his own daughter was no more a child, but an adult. Next, he writes “our child”(13), which might be indicating a generation that is to be born in the future. Throughout the poem and especially in the last lines we can see the impact of time on the generations as well as the interconnectedness between all, from the mentioning of the speaker’s father to the speaker , the speaker’s child and then those whose are yet to be born. As Barzilai (2006) states, the generations “mark and are marked by time” (p 39). People make a mark on this earth and leave when their time is over. On the other hand, time gives marks of old age like the jointed knuckles to humans. But “the world of things” is not marked by time so that they remain unchanged. The things like “stones in sun” only “suffers” (14) in time unlike human beings. That is what is meant by the use of “For we do not” in the last line.


Barzilai, Lyn Graham. George Oppen: A Critical Study. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2006. Print.
Oppen, George. The Collected Poems of George Oppen. New York: New directions, 1976. Print.

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