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Yoko Essay, Research Paper

Thomas Gunn delivers a poem that delves deep into a dog s mind capturing the unsophisticated boredom, anticipation, anxiety, and curiosity that all dogs must feel while locked up and restricted to a domestic life. Yoko begins with a visual and concrete image of a dog named Yoko awaiting the arrival of his master while lounging in a wardrobe. Without being able to release his stored energy, he occasionally lumbers across the room and drinks from the toilet bowl. His thirst to leave his dwelling is first introduced in the first stanza of the poem. Yoko hears that New York is jaggedy with firecrackers. Hearing these noises outside, he quickly retreats back to his wardrobe and tries to forget about what he can t have.

Yoko responds to his master s arrival even before the master enters the apartment (it seems like an apartment because of the stairwell). Yoko is crazy about his master, to say the least, as he is probably the dog s only company.

Yoko s immature curiosity is explained to us in the next couple of stanzas. Smells and tar and rotten sandwiches fascinate him. He seems disappointed after learning that he recognized the smell of his piss most probably indicating that he likes to explore and travel novel routes. Furthermore, Yoko is so unwilling to return back to the apartment that even though he is only pissing drops, he continues to do so probably to convince his master that he still has some unfinished business.

His leader s watchful eye comforts him.

The changing of the weather symbolizes the rocky life this dog lives. In this case, Yoko s day outside begins with warmth. Not only warmth of the sun but also the warmth he feels by being liberated outside with his master. We then moved to a scene where the wind is blowing. The blowing of the wind often refers to the changing trends in society or in a person s life. Here, the wind in Yoko s life refers to the differences between his life inside and outside of his apartment. Wind is often unsettling. At the point that the wind begins to blow, it seems clear that Yoko is sensing the end of his daily journey outside. Therefore, he is regaining the unsettled feeling that he had at the beginning of the poem. His unsettling feeling grows with time. And as time passes, the weather gets worse and he notes the ominous rain.

To further the emotional roller coaster that Yoko lives on, the poem maintains almost no rhythmic pattern or syllabic form. Lines generally range from seven to fifteen syllables per line with only one exception a line containing two syllables. This rockiness could parallel the uncertainty that Yoko deals with in an average day. The one two-syllable line Joy, joy refers to the dog/master duo. Yoko finds joy in life only when the two are together. Therefore, isolating these two positive words adds emphasis to the love he feels for his master.

It seems like (but I am not certain) that Yoko has experienced thoughts of abandoning his master. The only time that Yoko would feel this way is when he either is home or must go back home. But, as expressed by the line returning to you (as I always will, you know that, can t bear the thought of being away from his master even if it means being liberated from the boredom he experiences while alone and locked up.

Yoko loses the feeling of confusion he experiences at the beginning of the poem. Perhaps this is because being outside puts a source to all the New York firecrackers that he hears but can t see at the beginning.

Finally, Gunn ends the poem with a very visual image. The wind is blowing strong (showing us that Yoko begins to feel the pressures of going back to the apartment) but brace[s] himself against his master (the only source of enjoyment in his life). All in all, the last line captures the true meaning of the poem.

In General: This narrative poem reads well. Relating to it was relatively simple. I often feel unhappy and confused when I am cooped up inside (especially since I live in Trent!). Gunn s concrete details certainly help the reader visualize the scene. More important, I think that his language allows us to enter the dog s head and experience what he is feeling. Gunn s writing is a good example of the show, don t tell advice often given to writers. The title helps us focus in on this dog. Though the details of Yoko s image will differ from reader to reader, I think that giving him a name allows readers to come up with a concrete visualization of what Yoko looks like. In conclusion, this poem is playful yet meaningful and I give it a thumbs-up.

Question: What does the big fleet Yoko refer to?

About the author: Thom Gunn was born in 1929 in Britain. He completed two years of National Service in the British army and later received a degree at Cambridge University. His first book, Fighting Terms, was published in 1954, consisting of poems he had written as an undergraduate. The same year he became a graduate student at Stanford, and later started teaching at Berkeley, where he is a Senior Lecturer in English. He has lived in San Francisco since 1961.

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