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#1--Louis Simpson
“In the Suburbs”

There’s no way out.

You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life

As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.


I like the brevity of this poem, thus its its sparing use of image (rather, its concentration on a single image). I really appreciate simple declarative statements
While I believe in using image in poetry (obviously) I think that this necessary element has been placed on pedestal to the exclusion of abstract concepts and dexterity with language. It’s refreshing to see a poet embrace abstraction successfully, as an image doesn’t even occur until the end of the poem in the last two lines. It’s beautiful, still. It’s poetry, still.
I guess that is why I enjoy spoken word so much. It is not afraid to actually say something in plain words, that may or may not be abstract, rather than supplying and juxtaposing image after image and hoping the reader gets it. As poets we do want people to see and feel the words we write, but we are not painters (though there are some artistic parallels). We have the use of words, so that we can plainly convey abstraction and create musical language. Why is it that we are mostly taught to avoid abstractions, rather than being taught the balance between living entirely in the mind and living entirely in the eyes? Or maybe I am misunderstanding.
Even the image provided isn’t ornate and all the information about who “you” is and the situation that brought this reflection on is left out. Suburban life/a procession towards a temple singing, all so boiled down. He could have used a metaphor for “no way out”, “wasting life”, and "middle-class life” but he didn’t. He just said it and it works... for me anyway.

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