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We Live by What We See at Night Summary
Martín Espada

Everything you need to understand or teach We Live by What We See at Night by Martín Espada.

  • We Live by What We See at Night Summary & Study Guide

We Live by What We See at Night Summary

Introduction

First published in the collection Trumpets from the Islands of Their Eviction in 1987, "We Live by What We See at Night" is an example of Martín Espada's longing and nostalgic voice as a Puerto Rican American distanced from his family's homeland. Using a simple tone and many images throughout, the poet imagines what it must have been like for his father as a young man, a new immigrant living in Harlem but dreaming nightly about his home. He contrasts the lush and colorful Puerto Rican landscape against the bleak New York cityscape, then shifts to the present, years later, himself now living in the same city. Although he wasn't born in Puerto Rico, Espada ends the poem expressing a sense of comfort in having "inherited" his father's nightly visions of the tropical island, memory as deeply rooted, perhaps, as race and culture. As the title might suggest...

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