"A Teamster's Farewell"
Below is the poem, with analysis at the bottom.


           Sobs En Route to a Penitentiary

Good-by now to the streets and the clash of wheels and
    locking hubs,
The sun coming on the brass buckles and harness knobs.
The muscles of the horses sliding under their heavy
Good-by now to the traffic policeman and his whistle,
The smash of the iron hoof on the stones,
All the crazy wonderful slamming roar of the street--
O God, there's noises I'm going to be hungry for.

A Student's Analysis

This poem is set during a trip to prison.  A "teamster" is recalling his city and life as he heads to the state penitentiary.  Regardless of what he's going there for, we get the real sense that the workers in the city are proud of their lives, even if they're full of hard work and struggles.

As readers, when we hear these stories of ten-hour workdays in the scorching heat and the physical exhaustion the workers faced, we naturally feel inclined to wish to avoid it.  But this poem presents us with a man who is facing the realization that he will no longer be able to hear all of these sounds and he's genuinely upset because of that.

Despite all the hard work and struggles, the people of Chicago are proud to be who they are and do what they do.

This website is a student project created for the University of Michigan's English 280 class.  Created by Chris Stallman