All It Takes Themes

Carl Phillips
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Invisibility

The main theme of “All It Takes” is the way in which people know truths that do not derive from the direct evidence of their experience. The poem starts off by talking about “things invisible,” which are not directly seen but are nonetheless familiar because of their effects. One example from the physical world is an updraft: a wind that has no visible presence but which is evident in snow or leaves or dust swirling in an obvious order. There are also examples of emotions—generosity and fear—that do not have any physical presence in themselves but that set off events that are experienced. People believe in these invisible phenomena without being able to know them directly through the senses because the physical evidence points to the existence of the invisible.

Later in the poem, Phillips talks about things that are just as invisible, love and fidelity...

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This section contains 709 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the All It Takes Study Guide
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