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Old Ironsides

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Angela Ferguson

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Old Ironsides

A Poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes
pg. 190 Old Ironsides Romantic Characteristics Six Word Poem Key Literary Elements and Terms Holmes' Plan Symbolism/Theme Don't
ship. - Poem begins with descriptions of ship

- Poem ends with his proposal to have the ship sink in a storm

- Irony: Holmes presents conflicting ideas through his poem. He wants to preserve the USS Constitution, but his idea to have it sink rather than be scrapped would have the same end result anyway. Values feeling and intuition
over reason It makes logical sense to destroy the ship, but the ship holds emotional importance to Holmes and to the American people. Looks backwards to the wisdom of the past and distrusts progress The ship is being replaced by newer and better ships, but it is an American tradition. Holmes values the older ship above the newer ones. Finds inspiration in myth legend, and folk culture He calls reference to the harpies of Greek mythology, and compares them to people who want to destroy the ship. Sees poetry as the highest expression of imagination Holmes uses poetry to capture the people's imagination, and express the grandness of the USS Constitution Alliteration "Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!" (1) "When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below," (11-12) Metaphor "The eagle of the sea." (16)

"The meteor of the ocean air." (7) Tone The poem begins with a tone, and changes to a tone of . Holmes describes the ship as "one red with heroes' blood" (line 9), and says "Beneath it rung the battle shout,/ And burst the cannon's roar --/ The meteor of the ocean air/ Shall sweep the clouds no more" (lines 5-8) to depict the ship as majestic, but turns towards the end to making the ship sound vulnerable, saying "The harpies of the shore shall pluck/ The eagle of the sea" (lines 15-16), and calling the boat "shattered" (line 17). Imagery "Her deck, once red with heroes' blood" (9) "And give her to the god of storms/
The lightning and the gale" (11-12) heroic "When winds were hurrying o'er the flood" (11) wistful nostalgia heroic Background What Do You Think? Should old things with symbolic meaning be kept around out of nostalgia, or should they be scrapped to make room for the new?

What are some symbolic things that you would defend if they were going to be destroyed?

If has the same end result anyway, does it make a difference how things are destroyed? - Holmes presents this ship as a symbol of American power

- This plays into the poem's theme in that the dismantling of the ship is equated with a loss of American prestige Launched in 1797
War of 1812
Became iconic when it defeated the Guerriere
Nicknamed "Old Ironsides"
Planned to be scrapped in 1830 USS CONSTITUTION
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