Summary Of When The Towers Fell By Galway Kinnell

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Shantanu Jha When humanity is unable to atone for its sins, the innocent perish, while the living are left to suffer. In his elegy When the Towers Fell, Galway Kinnell laments the victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. In 2001, the world had just entered a new millennium; however, it was painfully reminded that the violence of humanity’s past would neither be forgiven nor forgotten. Through his captivating symbolic imagery, Kinnell is able to capture and emphasize the grief of the living, and the infectious nature of hate and war. Kinnell reiterates that through war and violence, humanity slowly implodes. In saying the events of September 11th were “not a comparison but a corollary, / not a likeness but a lineage” to the bloody history of the 20th century, Kinnell highlights the reciprocal nature of violence and war (79-80). The innocent are killed everywhere in the world, in “New York and Kabul”, and the living are left searching and mourning (54). “We know / they are our futures, that is our own black milk crossing …show more content…

As the dead fill the grave in the sky, darkness spreads over the living and the black milk of night thickens, cutting off the light of a new day. Kinnell channels Walt Whitman’s words, “the living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d, / and the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,” (137-138). Though the dead are at peace, the living are left as ghosts, haunted by their own endless search for closure. Even the “City of the world!” is only full of fragile, passionate humans (130). Inside the soaring skyscrapers, the forgotten towers that symbolize the pride and passions of the world, sit humans with families and loved ones. Towards the end of his poem, Kinnell slowly thins his stanzas. The very poem collapses on itself. Just as when the towers fell, the poem “concentrates/ into itself, transforms itself infinitely slowly into a black hole,” (145-147). Kinnell uses his captivating

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