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"Auto Wreck" by: Karl Shapiro

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by

Stephi Gato

on 31 January 2013

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Transcript of "Auto Wreck" by: Karl Shapiro

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Images from Shutterstock.com Author's Purpose & Tone AUTHOR'S PURPOSE: Karl Shapiro obviously thought that it was important for people to recognize the significance of deaths of all kinds, and uses a sudden and ominous accident to explore the randomness of death. In "Auto Wreck" by Karl Shapiro, the poet effectively uses many ways to convey his message that death is illogical; to question death

TONE: gloomy, reflective, dull - Rhythm: none
- Repetition: “beating, beating”; “floating down”, “dips down”; “rocking, slightly rocking”

- Poly
- Subjective and Objective (emotional/unemotional language)
- Active and Passive (states action/states being)
- Onomatopoeia: “silver bell beating, beating”
- Euphonious and Cacophonous (pleasant sound/harsh)
- Jargon (language specific to a field position)
- Assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) - HYPERBOLE: “ponds of blood”
- SIMILE: “like convalescents innocent and gauche,” “red light like an artery,” “throats tight as tourniquets,” “cancer, simple as a flower”
- METAPHOR: “the stubborn saw of common sense;” lanterns are described as“empty husks of locusts”
- IRONY: “grim joke”
- OXYMORON: “grim joke”

- SYMBOLISM: light
- IMAGERY: “Pulsing out red light like an artery”; “One with a bucket douches ponds of blood”; “simple as a flower, blooms”; “stretchers are laid out the mangled lifted” Imagery & Figurative Language
The poem starts with a description of an ambulance rushing to the scene of a crash, and hurriedly gathering up the victims and rushing them away. The second and third stanzas explore the emotions felt after the car crash from the perspective of a witness Summary :) Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating,
And down the dark one ruby flare
Pulsing out red light like an artery,
The ambulance at top speed floating down
Past beacons and illuminated clocks
Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,
And brakes speed, entering the crowd.
The doors leap open, emptying light;
Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted
And stowed into the little hospital.
Then the bell, breaking the hush, tolls once,
And the ambulance with its terrible cargo
Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,
As the doors, an afterthought, are closed.
We are deranged, walking among the cops
Who sweep glass and are large and composed.
One is still making notes under the light. One with a bucket douches ponds of blood
Into the street and gutter.
One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling,
Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles.
Our throats were tight as tourniquets,
Our feet were bound with splints, but now,
Like convalescents intimate and gauche,
We speak through sickly smiles and warn
With the stubborn saw of common sense,
The grim joke and the banal resolution.
The traffic moves around with care,
But we remain, touching a wound
That opens to our richest horror.
Already old, the question
Who shall die?
Becomes unspoken
Who is innocent?
For death in war is done by hands;
Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic;
And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.
But this invites the occult mind,
Cancels our physics with a sneer,
And spatters all we knew of denouement
Across the expedient and wicked stones. "Auto Wreck" by : Karl Shapiro Sounds & Diction Themes A Little Bit of Background - Published in 1941
- Karl Shapiro was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 10, 1913
- He was Jewish
- He had a life-long belief that he was destined to be a poet
- He had 3 children
- His original name was Carl, but he changed it to Karl, since it was more
Germanic
- Died on May 14, 2000 - A major theme from “Auto Wreck” is death. The author is exploring the random and illogical nature of mortality by contrasting the car crash with other forms of death (war, suicide, stillbirth, cancer) that are more common
- The poet debates the issue of life and death - Alliteration: soft, silver; bell, beating; bell, breaking; down, dark; light, like;dips, down; tight, tourniquets; sickly, smiles; stubborn, saw
- Proper English
- Literal and Figurative
- Hyperbole: "ponds of blood"
- Pedestrian and Pedantic (straight up or shadowy)
Full transcript