Outline for “Of Metaphor in X. J. Kennedy’s Old Men Pitching Horseshoes” I. Metaphors in Kennedy’s Poem A. Ditch Metaphor a. Imaginary Hide-Out or Place b. Between Imaginary and Real B. Peg Metaphor a. Defining Boundaries b. Rules that are Imagined and Real C…
The four old men in the poem heavily employ the ditch as a field in which they can perform their activities -- in this case, pitching horseshoes. The images of the old men and the ditch itself are quite interesting for they speak of something deeper. In practice, however, the ditch as a human invention is mainly used for controlling flood water. This implies that the ditch, as described in the poem, becomes a world in itself rather than a mere tool for civilized men -- particularly young men. The old men fundamentally alter the norm prevalent in their time and place. In doing so, they create their own universe even “[d]own the worn path of earth.” Perhaps the “real” world or civilization that the characters are immersed into seems to neglect the old men’s dignity. To subvert this disrespect marked in an industrialized society, these four men play their game in the ditch as they “considered dignity behooves.” Moreover, the metaphor of Kennedy’s poetry can also be seen in the peg imagery. As a marker that defines score or location, the peg as a metaphor represents a system of defined boundaries of roles and all. Society such as a civilized one has its conventional rules and laws that govern the people’s thoughts and actions. In the context of the poem, these rules include the exclusion of the old men in terms of active participation in the social life. ...
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