Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The poem "Shirt" by Robert Pinsky

Triangle Factory Fire.  The hoses couldn't reach the fire.
Most of you know that I'm a student in addition to the other things I do.  I had to do an analysis of a work of poetry for a Literary Criticism class.  I chose this poem, Shirt, because it evoked very strong images in short, it spoke to me.  If you really, really read and digest the poem, it will haunt you.  Here is the text of the poem:

Shirt, by Robert Pinsky

The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

A pile of 40 bodies of women that jumped to avoid the flames
The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped up to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane's Bedlamite, "shrill shirt ballooning."
Wonderful how the patern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
to wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

I wrote a paper analysing the poem, you might find it interesting.  Feel free use it in your research or work as long as you cite it.
100th anniversary memorial for Triangle Fire in New York

Upon Respect for a Common Item

Examining “Shirt” by Robert Pinsky

By Vicki Michalski

 University of Maryland University College

            A simple object rarely given any thought evokes in author and former national poet laureate Robert Pinsky a collection of images focusing upon the shirt he wears; of the fabric, of design, of colors, of pattern, of the construction and elements of that shirt, of the machinery that made the fabric and the garment, of the people that made his shirt, of the history of those that labored to make shirts in the past, of the owners of the mills in which those laborers worked, and even of the tragic loss of life of many of them in a historic fire at a shirt factory.  Pinsky’s “Shirt,” sometimes presents a confusing jumble of images and historical background that asks the reader to consider the history of textiles along with the physical shirt itself. 

The poem asks the reader to look at items that are commonly taken for granted not just as objects, but as the product of material, lives, work, history, and design.  Reviewer Olivia Kay feels that Pinsky’s writing “shows that simple objects have the ability to generate a wide array of thoughts.” (Kay)  In asking the reader to think about a common item, “Shirt” teaches the reader to look closely at other seemingly simple things in life for the meanings that might not be so readily apparent.  By the end of the poem, the simple garment, the shirt, is an integral part of all the hands that created it.  (Bates) 

The poem “Shirt” is a poem narrated by the poet as he reflects upon his wearing of a shirt.  He lets the reader know that he is the narrator by his use of images of the shirt “This armpiece with its overseam to the band/Of cuff I button at my wrist.” (Lines 5-6) though he frequently switches back and forth from the present wearing of the shirt to the history of the shirt and the workers the produced it. Because of this constant switching from the physical shirt to the scene of its production and back again, (Gilbert), the poem is not in strictly chronological order. 

The poem is written as a series of sixteen sections of three lines each, in which Pinsky takes the reader from the sweatshop where his clothing is made to the physical shirt, bringing the language of manufacture and machinery to the reader and adding the history of workers that have made shirts in the past.  (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)  Pinsky said that while writing, he became “hypnotized…by the sounds of the consonants in the language for the parts of those handsome old machines:  the treadle, the needle …the bobbin.”  (Brodeur) Pinsky uses that rhythm throughout the poem, albeit slowing it down for thoughtful images, or speeding it up a bit in the thick of the tension of the poem. 

The poem’s lines do not rhyme, yet the work employs rhythmic elements in the sentences.  Pinsky’s sentences are sometimes as short as two words, or sometimes as long as six or more lines.  One of two short sentences found in the poem is “The code.” (Line 9)  These two words break the rhythm of the work and slow the reader’s progress in the poem. Immediately after this break, the poem returns to a longer rhythm, though the author creates tension as he discusses the scene observed by a witness across the street from the Triangle Factory fire.  After the fire, further tension is created in a discussion of the workers that only escaped the fire through being dropped or jumping from the building to certain death.  The tension in the poem resolves only when Pinsky takes the reader back to the fabric, the mills, the machinery and those that labored to get the fabric to the factory, regaining the fluidity and rhythm of the earlier part of the work.  Even the inspector that made sure that Pinsky’s shirt was correct appears in the work, returning the reader to the garment once again, and causing the reader to reflect another time upon the physical attributes as well as the labor that went into making the “Shirt”.  The other two word sentence is “The Shirt” from the very last line of the poem.  This effectively ends the rhythm, and forms closure to the poem.

Pinsky uses repetition as an effective tool in “The Shirt”.  He repeats details of the construction and fabric of the shirt multiple times in the poem.  When he brings the reader back to the details of the physical shirt each time, he changes his emphasis somewhat, visiting different aspects.  In this way, his imagery is used to focus the reader’s attention back on the shirt, though the images are at least slightly different each time he returns.  This imagery gives the reader more appreciation for the design decisions and physical work that went into making the shirt that the reader might never have thought about before. The fabric, the pieces, the construction, where the fabric came from, and the work necessary to produce it all become part of the finished product.  The shirt also becomes inseparable from the conditions under which sweat shop textile workers toil and sometimes die to make cheap manufactured goods like the shirt.  The poem reminds readers of the importance of appreciating the history and work that go into each item used in daily life, and in this way, to not take anything in life for granted.

In the first section of the poem, Pinsky uses “isolated noun phrases” (Gilbert) to draw the attention of the reader to the various pieces of cut fabric that are sewn together to form the physical shirt.  “The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,/The nearly invisible stitches along the collar” (Lines 1-2) (Gardner, Lawn and Ridl) These short phrases acquaint the reader with the variously named pattern pieces of fabric and types of sewing that have become the product that becomes the shirt.  The many parts come together as a whole.  Pinsky finishes the first section by telling the reader that the shirt is not made locally, like many products.  “Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians” (Line 3)  But as the reader discovers in the next section, these workers are no different than workers anywhere.

In the second section, Pinsky continues by humanizing the workers in those other lands, pointing out that they take breaks, eat, and talk about a variety of subjects while they work just as the reader might do in his or her own job.  “Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break/Or talking money or politics while one fitted/This armpiece with its overseam to the band” (Lines 3-6) This imagery transports the reader to his or her own neighborhood, and life, pointing out that the foreign sweatshop workers are no different than the person that wears the finished shirt. 

In section three, Pinsky brings the reader back to wearing the shirt as he buttons it up. “Of cuff I button at my wrist.” (Line 7)  He then quickly returns the reader to the garment factory with images of machinery found there, but also inserts a quick reference to the workers and their struggle for worker’s rights. “The presser, the cutter,/The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,/The treadle, the bobbin.” (Lines 8-9)  His mention of “the union” in the middle of the mechanical tools of the garment worker’s trade gives the reader a moment of pause since it is imbedded in the middle of the tools and machinery of line 8 and 9.  He does not separate “the union” from the other tools that the workers use in the making of the shirt.  The reader might not have thought about this entry being an integral part of the history of the garment, though Pinsky obviously wants the reader to consider it as such.  Then comes the one short sentence that breaks the rhythm, and with it, the reader’s fluid reading of the work. “The code. The infamous blaze” concluding line nine initially puzzles the reader, especially if the reader is not familiar with the historical information to come.

The reader will become immersed in the garment worker industry’s worst disaster in section four.  “At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven./One hundred and forty-six died in the flames/On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—“ (Lines 10-12, section 4)  The author writes this section with an immediacy in his prose.  The speed of the poetic rhythm increases, as does the tension in this section.  The author seeks to educate the reader about this historical event that shaped the way that workers in the US were treated after the disaster.  Pinsky creates imagery that causes the reader to read on with urgency, expecting to get more information about the fire.

Pinsky’s mention of the Triangle Fire again asks the reader to think about the workers that created the shirt, inviting more understanding of the hands of the human beings that made shirts in the past and lost their lives while doing so.  When the 275 girls that worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company’s factory in New York City began to collect their belongings to go home on Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire started.  Many workers perished in the fire, as the materials needed to create the shirts fueled the fire.  The Triangle Factory was located on the 9th floor of the Asch building in the garment district.  (The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial: Building and Safety Laws) Workers found that the only fire escape available to them collapsed under the weight of people on them, and fire department ladders could not reach them on the 9th floor, the streams of water could reach only the 7th floor. Some doors that led to the stairwells were locked, and those that were unlocked opened inward, quickly being forced closed by the rush of women trying to escape, again, in violation of “the code” which required the doors to open outwardly and not be locked in any way during business hours.  (The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial: Building and Safety Laws) There were no hydrants in the factory, only 27 buckets of water to use to fight the fire.  These horrible conditions forced many women to endure terrible deaths in the flames and smoke.  When workers found that they could not escape, some jumped out of the windows to death on the street a hundred feet below as discussed by Pinsky in Sections 4-7. (Leap for Life, Leap of Death) As mentioned in the poem in line 11, the death toll for the Triangle fire was 146 employees.  The women were aged 13 to 23 years, the average age was 19.  (Leap for Life, Leap of Death)

“The code,” in line 9, refers to the New York City codes that were violated and not as stringent as they should have been, leading to a great loss of life during the Triangle Fire.  The New York Laws did not require the Asch building to have fire escapes that led to the ground. Instead, they led to the second floor skylight which could not hold the weight of people upon it.  Sprinklers were not required in New York City buildings at that time, and fire drills were not required either.  The building was slightly short of the height that would require non-wood material in it, so the wooden building had plenty of wooden fuel to burn. The doors at this time were not unlocked while workers were in the building, so the women could not get out on one end of the building.  Nets used by the firemen were insufficient for the weight of people falling or jumping from a high floor, so they ripped and did not help the women.  (The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial: Building and Safety Laws)  The owners of the business, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, were tried for manslaughter, but later acquitted as the safety regulations in place at that time were deemed to be insufficient.  (Leap for Life, Leap of Death)  This disaster changed American labor unions and labor laws, created stricter fire safety codes to protect laborers, and created a clearer set of guidelines that employers must follow to protect the safety of their workers.  (Markowitz and Rosner)

In section five, though the reader thinks he or she has learned a bit about the Triangle fire, Pinsky extends the tension by telling the reader that “The witness in a building across the street” (line 13) saw the tragedy and must have more information.  Pinsky’s prose creates one very large sentence that flows quickly across sections four to six, speeding up the reader’s eye while propelling the reader to more information about the tragedy. “Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step/Up to the windowsill, then held her out” (Lines 14-15)  Pinsky has created a powerful image of a man helping the girls out of the window onto the ledge, holding them out, and then dropping them to their death, presumably a less painful death than being burned alive.  United Press reporter William Shephard, an onlooker, said at the time “…thud—dead.  Sixty-two thud---deads.  I call them that because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant.” (Leap for Life, Leap of Death)  And so it is with Pinsky’s images in the poem, each figure in the poem becomes real, and conjures the thought of death in the commission of making a simple shirt. 

Section six continues the horror as the male “helper” continues to help the young girls to their possibly quicker and less painful deaths.  The man held each girl “Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.”  Pinsky has inserted a period here in line 16, to slow the reader down in order to think about the reality that the images create.  The next line, line 17, creates a short sentence to again slow the reader down: “And then another.” This continues to confront the reader with the enormity of the situation, as if there were many women lining up to make the jump to avoid dying in the flames.  Continuing with line 17 “As if he were helping them up” completes the line and quickly pushes the reader to line 18 where Pinsky again reminds that though the image of the male helping the women looked normal at that moment in time, that the man was actually helping the women go to their certain death. “To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.” (Line 18 This line brings the reader to the end of the section, completing the image with a period to again break the rhythm.  Pinsky also creates a transition that propels the reader into the next section to find out more about the people he has introduced the reader to.

Section seven continues the image of the man on the window ledge, showing the emotion of the event: “A third before he dropped her put her arms/Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held” (Lines 19-20)  The reader can easily imagine the third woman he helped off the ledge being so caught up in emotions of fear and gratitude for his help, and knowing that she was soon to die, she kissed the man.  The man would not have wanted to prolong the girl’s fear by postponing what he was to do, so he helped her to her death as well: “Her into space, and dropped her.” (Line 21)  Completing the section, “Almost at once” (Line 21) brings the reader back to the image and the tension of wondering of what will happen next, causing the reader to look for a conclusion in the next section.

“He stepped up to the sill himself, his jacket flared” in section eight, line 22, makes readers hold their breath as the male helper steps up onto the window ledge, bringing the man to where the girls were just moments before.  The reader thinks “Oh no!” and though he or she knows what must happen next, the reader hopes that indeed the man will not jump.  Pinsky cleverly crafts the image of the man prior to this point so that the reader does not know quite what to think of the man’s actions.  By putting the male helper on the window ledge, the reader is confused, waiting impatiently for a resolution as to exactly why he is there.  The end of line 22, and lines 23 and 24 answer quickly with an unforgettable image: “his jacket flared/And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,/Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—“  Readers can imagine his clothing flying up due to the air rushing by as the man fell to his death with the girls.  The reader feels sad and let down by the deaths of the man and the girls, yet Pinsky is not finished thinking about the “shirt” yet. 

Section 9 begins with a reference to another poet and poem: “Like Hart Crane's Bedlamite, ‘shrill shirt ballooning.’” (Line 25)  The word “bedlamite” in Hart Crane’s poem “To Brooklyn Bridge” refers to an insane person, an lunatic, a madman, (Wordnik)  like the man that would jump to his death with the women he helped.   His “shrill shirt ballooning” of line 25 is a direct quote from “To Brooklyn Bridge” by Crane in which the image of another person falling is made ”A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,/Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,/A jest falls from the speechless caravan.” (Lines 18-21, “To Brooklyn Bridge”) (Crane)  The male helper in Pinsky’s poem, is the person throwing himself off Crane’s Brooklyn bridge, insane with the tension of the moment as he jumps off the building and to his death on the street below.  As the man is propelled downward, the wind makes his shirt balloon up, bringing the reader back from the man falling to the street to the shirt itself again. Pinsky said in an interview, that he had read the account of the young man helping the young women and then jumping himself in Irving Howe’s book The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, adding that the account was likely fake and in the realm of “what might have been.”  (Brodeur) Now Pinsky writes; “Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly/Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked” (Lines 26-27) These lines not only direct attention back to the fabric and construction of the shirt, but also momentarily cause the reader confusion as he or she wonders how to reconcile interest in the garment with the horrors of the man falling to his death.  The tension eases as the poet moves readers back to the garment itself again, with the prose leading easily into more attributes of the shirt in the next section.

Finishing in section ten what began in the last line of section nine, the “twin bar-tacked/Corners of both pockets” (lines 27 and 28) the precision involved in the construction of the corners of the pockets of the shirts reminds the poet of the strict rules relating to the rhyme of some poetry or of a chord found in music.  “like a strict rhyme/Or a major chord.” (Lines 28-29) While still painting an image with words of the perfection and regimentation required with the construction of the pocket tacking of the shirt, Pinsky runs images from one line into the next to speed up the rhythm.   He takes the reader then into the types of fabrics that shirts might be made from; ”Prints, plaids, checks,/Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans” (Lines 29-30) inviting the reader to imagine various garments that might be made from the many different fabrics available.  This section is all about pattern.  The lines read quickly, easily, and rhythmically.   They blend nicely into the next section which then changes direction and feel.

While readers are pondering the “clan tartans” in the last line of section ten, Pinsky transitions into section eleven in which readers learn that those tartans were “Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,/”  In this image, the mill owners that created fabrics that were not really clan tartans are compared to the literary hoax of Ossian. According to the article “Top 10 literary hoaxes” which was published in the U.K., in the 1760s poet James Macpherson supposedly discovered fragments of a third-century epic by a poet named Ossian.  Macpherson said that he had “translated” these works from the Scottish Gaelic, and the works made their way around the literary world of that time which was very much in the midst of a “primitivism craze.” (Guardian News and Media, Limited)  The Hoax was created because people yearned for things more primitive, older, and historical.   Similar to the Hoax of Ossian, mill-owners were able to capitalize upon consumers’ desire for things historic and ancient, inventing supposedly historic clan tartans to sell to the unsuspecting public.

In the next line of section eleven, “To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed/By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,”(Line 33) refers to the Scottish workers that manufacture Macgregor Tartan cloth, encouraged to produce the clan fabric with pride for the MacGregors clan though the pattern and the cloth they made were likely part of the  false inventions as the hoax of Ossian.   The MacGregors clan was known as ferocious and war-like, living by the sword throughout the 1800s, (A History of Macgregor Tartan) so this clan name would be an enticing one to consumers. Amazingly, Pinsky wrote this line with knowledge that “Highland Scots being considered as sub human by the English who tried to tame them as factory workers.” (Brodeur) A parallel can be drawn to the Triangle workers who were considered so untrustworthy that they were locked into the factory to avoid their pilfering a shirt. 

In section twelve of Pinsky’s poem, the mill owners used the not only the name of MacGregor to identify the Tartan they would invent, but also the historic Scottish clan names of “Bailey and MacMartin.” (Line 34 in section 12)  Owing to the public’s fascination with things historic and ancient, the mill-owners again felt that the fabric would sell if named something that sounded historic, though it actually was not.  The rest of line 34 brings the reader to a new subject: the kilt.  “The kilt, devised for workers” (Line 34) The kilt, according to Pinsky, was another myth that had been attributed to ancient history, but was later debunked. (Brodeur)  The majority of Scots regarded the kilt as a barbarous form of dress, calling the few Highlanders that wore the kilts as “redshanks” to indicate that their legs must have been red with cold.  Though never the “national dress,” a few Scots did wear the garment and it gained popularity, so it became associated with Scottish dress “to wear among the dusty clattering looms.” (remainder of Line 35)  .

Again returning the reader to reality, though with more of the history of the shirt mingled in; “to wear among the dusty clattering looms” of Line 35 brings us back to the textile mills, where workers produced the cloth on looms after the thread was produced from raw fiber. “Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,” (Line 36) This line paints images of the workers that bring the fiber into the factory, loading it into machines that will card or arrange the fiber to be spun into thread, spinning the thread, and then weaving the thread into the cloth that will become the shirt.  Pinsky wants to take the reader even further back in the process of making cloth which he does so in the next section.

Section thirteen presents images of the people that brought the fiber to the weavers, carders, and spinners of line 36, as well as the sewers in the shirt factory.  “The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter” in line 37 lists for the reader in noun phrase form, some of the people that had to work to produce and transport the fiber to that the mill would then spin into thread and weave into cloth.  “The Navvy” in line 37 refers to an unskilled worker, the word comes from that of a laborer on railroads or shipping, earlier, one that worked in navigation, usually building navigation canals, thus “navy/navvy” or navigation.  (Navvy, Definition)  These workers brought the cotton in for the textile worker, in what is known as a sweatshop due to the heat and generally poor conditions.

“Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton” (Line 38) returns the reader to the image of the worker sweating while working, with the refuse of the machine and manufacture all around her.   The next line ties this worker to the image of another worker that made her job possible:  “As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:” (Line 39)  While references to the Triangle fire stir the reader to appreciate the tragedy of lives lost in the history of producing the shirt, these two lines tie two images of history together in just a brief moment, causing the reader to ponder the conditions of the slave as connected to that of the sweatshop worker.   The shirt might not be a product of slave labor in the present day, but those sweatshop workers of far off lands work just as hard and under as difficult conditions as their historical counterparts.  (Gilbert)  Pinsky draws attention to the injustices in the textile industry in section thirteen, which he continues in the next section.

“George Herbert, your descendant is a Black/Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma” in Section fourteen, lines 40-41 refers to Welsh poet George Herbert that was educated in England in the 1600s.  Herbert preached, wrote poetry, was a public orator, and is considered one of the great metaphysical poets of all time.  (From the Academy of American Poets)  Herbert wrote a poem titled “The Collar” as a possible point of entry into Pinsky’s poem, (Gilbert) but it might also be possible, given immigration and integration that Herbert (or any person) could have a descendant that was a black woman from South Carolina.  Pinsky again makes the shirt, down to the women that inspected it, no different, and perhaps related to, any person.  “And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit” (Line 42) The reader again faces how integrated everything and everyone really is. Even Herbert, or the black woman Irma, that inspected Pinsky’s shirt is perhaps part of the large extended heritage of the wearer of the shirt.  Again, the garment, the reader, and the people involved in producing the garment have been drawn together.

Section fifteen moves the reader from the people that made and inspected the shirt to the physical shirt itself by sharing the experience between the inspector and the wearer:  “And feel and its clean smell have satisfied/both her and me.” (Line 43 and a portion of line 44)  The imagery of the “feel and clean smell” has further enhanced the reality of the actual shirt using more senses than Pinsky used thus far in the poem.  Additionally it continues to meld the inspector as part of the textile industry, with the wearer, and even with the reader, drawing the reader’s attention to the connection that each participant has with the finished product.  The simple shirt that had been taken for granted before reading and pondering the poem is now more appreciated by the reader. 

“We have culled its cost and quality/Down to the buttons of simulated bone,” (Remainder of line 44, line 45) finishes out the fifteenth section by switching now to the mill or factory owner’s voice.  The owner has culled, by definition, reduced or removed some of the shirts, eliminating those that were not desirable for whatever reason.  (Definition of Culled) In this line, culling refers to the negative action of reducing or removing some of the shirts’ “cost and quality”, making the shirts a cheaper and less desirable shadow of what it was in the past.  In finishing up the image on the next line “Down to the buttons of simulated bone” (Line 45) Pinsky has further alluded to the reduction of cost and quality by pointing out that the buttons now are no longer made of bone as they once were, but are now “simulated”, most likely with plastic or some other cheaply produced material.  In these images the reader realizes that the garment is more cheaply made all the way around, from materials, to labor, even to the buttons sewn onto it.  The image of cheaply made buttons forms a smooth transition into another repetitive noun string in the last section, section sixteen.

“The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters” (Line 46) again brings attention back to the garment that the poet wears.  This noun string puts another list of items that are pertinent to the shirt into images for the mind of the reader.  “Printed in black on neckband and tail. “ (Line 47, first portion) causes the reader to pause for a moment, remembering perhaps his or her own shirt, and looking for the printing that might or might not be in both locations just as Pinsky has noted.  This line slows the reading down and gets the reader ready for the last string of images as the work draws to a close. “The shape,/The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.” (Remainder of line 47, and Line 48)  These words deliver a noun phrase string that incorporates an image of each portion of the components of the shirt.  Again, Pinsky has included physical and historical images, reinforcing to the reader that the poet feels that the labor and the history of the item are important and should not be taken for granted or forgotten when looking at any common, every-day item such as a “Shirt”.

Works Cited

A History of Macgregor Tartan. n.d. 4 September 2012. .

Bates, Robin. The Triangle Fire and the Face of Labor. 24 March 2011. 4 September 2012. .

Brodeur, Brian. How a Poem Happens: Robert Pinsky. 12 December 2010. 4 September 2012. .

Crane, Hart. "To Brooklyn Bridge." Weber, Brom, ed. The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1966. Print. 4 September 2012. .

"Definition of Culled." 2011. Mirriam-Webster Dictionary. 8 September 2012. .

From the Academy of American Poets. 2012. 6 September 2012. .

Gardner, Janet E, et al., Literature: A Portable Anthology. Third Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print.

Gilbert, Roger. "On "Shirt"." 2000. Modern American Poetry. 3 September 2012. .

Guardian News and Media, Limited. Top 10 literary hoaxes. 15 November 2001. 4 September 2012. .

Kay, Olivia. Poetry analysis: "Shirt", by Robert Pinsky. 28 February 2012. 2012. 3 September 2012. .

Leap for Life, Leap of Death. n.d. 3 September 2012. .

Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition. 2012. 3 September 2012. .

Markowitz, G and D. Rosner. "From the Triangle Fire to the BP Explosion: A Short History of the Century-Long Movement for Safety and Health." New Labor Forum (Murphy Institute) 20.1 (2010): 26-32. 8 September 2012. .

"Navvy, Definition." 2009. World English Dictionary through Web Document. 6 September 2012. .

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial: Building and Safety Laws. New York Building Codes Relating to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Disaster. n.d. 3 September 2012. .

Wordnik. Bedlamite, Definititions. n.d. 4 September 2012. .




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