Everything you need to understand or teach His Speed and Strength by Alicia Ostriker.
In these lines, the speaker introduces a boy's physical speed and strength, repeating the word "strength" twice for emphasis. The poet reinforces the sense of speed by using alliteration, beginning nearby words with the same "s" sound. The traits of speed and strength signal other masculine traits about which the speaker is both proud and concerned. With the first line, Ostriker invokes the expression "the strength of ten men," but she uses enjambment, wrapping the sentence onto the next line, to create two meanings at once. First, the poet causes readers to complete the phrase "the strength of ten" in their heads with "men." She thereby introduces themes of manhood and great strength without stating them directly. Next, by beginning the second line with "years," the poet deflates the heroic phrase and reveals that "he" is only a boy of ten. Though the word "years" holds comic surprise here, the... View more of the His Speed and Strength Summary