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Old Ironsides Themes

Oliver Wendell Holmes
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For the most part, this poem evokes pride by evoking battle imagery, which is fitting because it was in battle that the Constitution distinguished itself. The images, even the ones that are drawn from nature, are loud and fierce: "the battle shout," "the cannon's roar," "her thunders shook," and of course "the lightning and the gale." All of this activity sets the reader's heart to racing, as it is commonly said pride does. The second stanza in particular describes the situation in terms of winners and losers: the heroes and the victor, the vanquished and the conquered. Absent here is a sense of the complex causes of the War of 1812 or the compromises that were made to secure peace, which would weaken the sense of pride by making the ship's military victories seem less necessary. The pride this poem attaches to the Constitution is based in reality, but...

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This section contains 888 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Poetry for Students
Old Ironsides from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.