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Smart and Final Iris Essay

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Semansky is an instructor of English literature and composition whose essays, poems, and stories regularly appear in journals and magazines. In this essay, Semansky considers how Tate's poem on the topic of weapons is also a kind of weapon itself.

James Tate's poem "Smart and Final Iris" is both about the terrors of nuclear weaponry and is a kind of weapon itself. As a poem, it examines the rela- tionship between war and language, showing the part words play in the construction of popular images about nuclear war. In doing this, the poem intervenes in the ways readers think and, hopefully, respond to the threat of war.

By taking as his subject the Pentagon's practice of giving secret code names to its nuclear defense strategy, Tate foregrounds the role of language in how human beings imagine death. Like death, codes are a secret, standing in a metaphoric relationship...

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This section contains 1,385 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Smart and Final Iris Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Smart and Final Iris from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.