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Fifteen by William Stafford

Accelerated Sophomore English Poem Analysis

Sean Durbin

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of Fifteen by William Stafford

by William Stafford Fifteen William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1914. He earned his Ph.D from the University of Iowa and married Dorothy Frantz, later having 4 children. His collection of poems, "Traveling Through the Dark", won National Book Award in 1963. In 1970, he was poet laureate. Throughout his life, he published more than 65 volumes of poetry and books. About the Author Fifteen The situation described is the one of an eager 15 year-old boy who wants to ride a motorcycle and live the freedoms of adults. He finds a man who fell off of a motorcycle and landed in the grass. He helps the man up, and the man admires his passion as he also had that same passion. Situation Never give up on your dreams because if you try hard enough, they will come true. Theme South of the bridge on Seventeenth
I found back of the willows one summer
day a motorcycle with engine running
as it lay on its side, ticking over
slowly in the high grass. I was fifteen.

I admired all that pulsing gleam, the
shiny flanks, the demure headlights
fringed where it lay; I led it gently
to the road, and stood with that
companion, ready and friendly. I was fifteen.

We could find the end of a road, meet
the sky on out Seventeenth. I thought about
hills, and patting the handle got back a
confident opinion. On the bridge we indulged
a forward feeling, a tremble. I was fifteen.

Thinking, back farther in the grass I found
the owner, just coming to, where he had flipped
over the rail. He had blood on his hand, was pale-
I helped him walk to his machine. He ran his hand
over it, called me a good man, roared away.

I stood there, fifteen. There are no similes
"South of the bridge on Seventeenth" (l.1) This is a metaphor comparing a bridge to growing from Seventeen to an adult at the age of Eighteen where we can finally turn our dreams into reality.
"I led it gently/to the road and stood with that/ companion..." (ll. 8,9,10) This is a metaphor comparing a motorcycle to a friend that is always ready to help, no matter how bizarre the dream is.
"...the demure headlights..." (l. 7) This is personification. It says that the headlights are shy and timid. This hints that the headlights are slowly dying and soon the wish will be dead too. Figurative Language The motorcycle symbolizes our wishes. Symbols "...a motorcycle with engine running/ as it lay on its side, ticking over/ slowly in the high grass." (ll. 3,4,5)
"I admired all that pulsing gleam, the/ shiny flanks, the demure headlights/ fringed where it lay..." (ll. 6,7,8)
"He had blood on his hands, was pale-" (l. 18) Imagery There is no irony. Irony "I was fifteen" (ll. 5,10,15)
This helps express that the speaker is only a teenager, and they aren't matured enough to make a real impact on his dreams and use the same freedoms as adults do. Repetition There is an American-English diction. Diction There is no rhyme scheme
There is no meter
It is a free verse poem Rhyme Scheme The title is very appropriate. The entire poem talks about the struggles of a fifteen year-old boy and how he doesn't have freedom, so he can't chase his dreams. Is the title appropriate? Is this a Lyric or Narrative poem? Why?

Could you find any other themes of the poem? Questions
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