Poem Analysis: The Layers By Stanley Kunitz

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The poem, “The Layers,” by Stanley Kunitz, speaks about past experiences and how one can learn from them to live a fulfilling life. Throughout the piece, the speaker explores the hurdles he has encountered and realizes that those obstacles have translated into tools he can use in the future. Overall, the speaker is optimistic and inspiring, as he reflects on the past to grow as an individual, while anticipating any challenges that will arise. This illustrates the one must embrace their history before they can love themselves in the present and the future. The speaker reminisces and attempts to puzzle out how past events have shaped him into the person he has become. He is “compelled to look” (line 8) behind and “gather strength/ to proceed…show more content…
He perseveres through previous challenges, “[his] will intact to go” (line 28) and he is now eager to go wherever fate leads him. This opens the speaker up to new experiences because he knows that he has the strength to conquer any hardship the future brings. Armed with wisdom and increasing maturity, he is prepared to start “the next chapter” (line 41) in his life, be it old age, sickness, or heartbreak. The speaker anticipates the transformations that he will endure, aware that he has a long road ahead of him. The speaker is “not who [he] was” (line 3) in the past, but will continue to change as he adds more chapters to his book of life. At the end of the poem, the speaker is “not done with [his] changes” (line 44) and walks into his future, looking forward to the new transformations that will greet him. By accepting his past, the speaker frees himself to appreciate his present and future fully. Gathering the knowledge that one has experienced, will help one avoid making similar mistakes in the future as well as give hope to those in struggle. “The Layers”, by Stanley Kunitz effectively illustrates this point: To tackle one’s life journey, one must first reflect on what they have learned in the past, for there is wisdom to be

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