Poem Analysis The Very End by Tom Sleigh Essay

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The poem that is reviewed in this brief essay is The Very End, as written by Tom Sleigh. As is indicated by the essay assignment prompt, the poem is about Sleigh’s grandmother. This is made quite clear on the page with the poem. Indeed, there is the text “For my grandmother” just below the title of the essay. What follows is a poem that is not terribly long. However, there is obviously a lot going on and the verbiage on display is both profound and nebulous at the same time. This is true in terms of what is said about his grandmother. It is also true about what is said about others. While Sleigh’s message is shrouded and dressed with some interesting references, the intent of the poem’s author is quite clear.


One thing to point out about the poem is how Sleigh swings back and forth in terms of who he speaks about. There are clips where he is clearly and obviously talking about his grandmother. There are other phrases where he seems to be going off on tangets of thought. For example, the third and fourth lines are clearly about his grandmother. Indeed, those lines say “Instead, a pair of button-shoes you wore, false teeth, a veil, a monogrammed bracelet” (Sleigh).

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However, those two lines are bookended by some rather interesting historical references. The line prior refers to Nero and Caligula. The line after, that being the fifth, says “blot the Roman son with their antiquity”. The apparent reason for these references seems to arise in the next few lines. Indeed, he makes references to how his grandmother would do housework, such as where it says “you dust or cook” (Sleigh). He then makes references to how she would read the latest work about child psychology. The sum total of this would be that the grandmother was an avid reader of literature, with an apparent focus on non-fiction such as history and psychology. Another rather telling reference is the concurrent use of the words “gloved” and “threatening”. This would seem to indicate that his grandmother had a warm yet sinister voice or tone (Sleigh).

Another obvious theme is the sum total of the historical references. They are all in reference to Rome. The references to Caligula, Nero, the “Roman sun” and the triumvirate are all Roman in their genesis. The historical references and the….....

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Works Cited
Sleigh, Tom. "The Very End By Tom Sleigh." Poetry Foundation. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 Sept. 2017.


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