Men at Forty

I had no idea what I was looking for when I cracked open “The Open Door”.  As I was looking through the poems, “Men at Forty” by David Justice caught my eye.  I liked the style and tone of the poem at first glance because it was easy to read and gave me a true sense of what middle aged fathers go through on a nightly basis.  I did not do as well a job as I would of hoped while reading the poem.  I wanted to my voice to sound deep and father-like.  I also wanted my voice to sound like I was in a train of thought.  I feel that by presenting the poem in this way, the audience would have gotten the true position of a middle-age middle class father.  Fathers that are taking care of their responsibilities, but also wondering where their dreams and ambitions have gone.  These fathers have to be strong on the outside for their children, but on the inside a part of them will always be the little sons of their fathers. 

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One thought on “Men at Forty

  1. You read a bit too quickly at first, then slowed to a solid pace, with good enunciation throughout. I liked the detail of Justice having written the poem at 42; it hinted at a skillful balance of general and particular that runs through the poem. I’m glad you pointed out that the final stanza breaks from the rhyme scheme; unfortunately, your own delivery of that stanza was a bit rushed, so we may have missed some of the “immense” effect. Moreover, what effect does the broken rhyme scheme have? Why the unpoetic word “mortgaged” in the last line?

    As a general principle, there’s a big difference between saying a poem is easy to read and relate to, and saying that you “don’t have to think” when you read it. In the last two sentences of your reflection above, I sense that you’re applying truisms about fatherhood, rather than really getting at how the poem works with (or against) those truisms. I don’t entirely agree with you that the poem describes something men go through “nightly”; my impression is that the poem describes a father leaving home for good, or maybe realizing in retrospect that it was for good.

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