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On "The Horse"

John Gery

Philip Levine also tells a tale of sorts when he depicts the aftermath of Hiroshima in an extended metaphor in "The Horse." Still alive, yet "without skin, naked, hairless,/ without eyes and ears," the horse represents the spirit of the hibakusha which has fled the devastated city. Although the survivors, their mouths open "like the gills of a fish caught/ above water," continue to speak about the lost ghost of the horse, the poem's speaker realizes that the horse never existed and will not return; even the survivors themselves will forget about it, the poem concludes, once their "rage" has "gone out of/ their bones in one mad dance" . . . .

From Ways of Nothingness: Nuclear Annihilation and Contemporary American poetry. Copyright 1996 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida.

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