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Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes At the stoplight waiting for the light nine a.m. downtown San Francisco.

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Presentation on theme: "Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes At the stoplight waiting for the light nine a.m. downtown San Francisco."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes At the stoplight waiting for the light nine a.m. downtown San Francisco a bright yellow garbage truck with two garbagemen in red plastic blazers standing on the back stoop one on each side hanging on and looking down into an elegant open Mercedes with an elegant couple in it

3 The man in a hip three-piece linen suit with shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses The young blond woman so casually coifed with a short skirt and colored stockings on the way to his architect's office

4 And the two scavengers up since four a.m. grungy from their route on the way home The older of the two with grey iron hair and hunched back looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo And the younger of the two also with sunglasses & long hair about the same age as the Mercedes driver

5 And both scavengers gazing down as from a great distance at the cool couple as if they were watching some odorless TV ad in which everything is always possible

6 And the very red light for an instant holding all four close together as if anything at all were possible between them across that small gulf in the high seas of this democracy

7 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes The title shows us straight away that the poem will be about the contrasts between two pairs of people. Scavengers is a derogatory term for the garbagemen because it suggests that they live off the rubbish of others - a scavenger beetle lives off rotting flesh. However, Beautiful People is a compliment. So, right from the start, we feel the garbagemen are at a disadvantage.

8 Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes Describes four people held together for a moment at a red traffic light. There are two scavengers, garbagemen 'on their way home' after their round, and two beautiful people, an elegant couple 'on the way to his architect's office'. The garbagemen's day ends where the young couple's begins. The poet compares the two pairs in detail, then seems to ask - at the end of the poem - whether America really is a democracy.

9 At the stoplight waiting for the light nine a.m. downtown San Francisco a bright yellow garbage truck with two garbagemen in red plastic blazers standing on the back stoop one on each side hanging on and looking down into an elegant open Mercedes with an elegant couple in it Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in 1919 in New York. One of the main poets of the Beat movement. He often writes about politics and social issuesBeat movement The garbagemen are 'looking down' (line 7) into the Mercedes. At face value this is clearly because the garbage truck is taller than the car, but is there an ironic message too? You might have expected the rich couple to 'look down on' the dustmen, not the other way round.

10 The man in a hip three-piece linen suit with shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses The young blond woman so casually coifed with a short skirt and colored stockings on the way to his architect's office The descriptions of the four people are very visual, making it easy to imagine the scene. Appearances tell us a lot. The rich couple are very fashionable: he has an expensive'hip three-piece linen suit‘ while her blond hair is 'casually coifed'

11 And the two scavengers up since four a.m. grungy from their route on the way home The older of the two with grey iron hair and hunched back looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo And the younger of the two also with sunglasses & long hair about the same age as the Mercedes driver On the other hand, the garbagemen are grungy The younger one has sunglasses & long hair just like the Mercedes driver, which forces us to compare the two.

12 And both scavengers gazing down as from a great distance at the cool couple as if they were watching some odorless TV ad in which everything is always possible To the garbagemen, the couple are almost unreal and their lifestyle is out of reach. They are actually close together, stuck at the red light. Does the image suggest the 'distance' between the lives each pair lead?

13 And the very red light for an instant holding all four close together as if anything at all were possible between them across that small gulf in the high seas of this democracy The closing lines of the poem involve a metaphor about the sea. If America is the high seas, the distance between the two vehicles is a 'small gulf' It may look possible to cross, but really it is impossible narrow mouth that should be easy to cross

14 ’ a bright yellow garbage truck with two garbagemen in red plastic blazers’ The garbagemen are riding 'a bright yellow garbage truck' and wear 'red plastic blazers' later on we find one of them has 'grey iron hair' (line 19). These are strong colours. The couple in the Mercedes, though, are almost colourless: he wears a 'linen suit' (line 11) - natural linen is a cream colour - and they both have blond hair. Is the poet suggesting that the garbagemen have more 'colour' in their lives? Are the young couple actually 'colourless' and boring? ‘grey iron hair’

15 The older garbage man has a hunched back and looks 'like some gargoyle This simile is striking: Quasimodo is the Hunchback of Notre Dame in Victor Hugo's novel. He is a tragic figure: kind and loving despite his ugliness, he finally dies of a broken heart. 'Quasimodo' means 'almost finished' or 'half made'. Do you think Ferlinghetti compares the dustman to Quasimodo simply to help us imagine his appearance, or for other reasons? ‘looking down like some gargoyle Quasimodo’

16 The poem's structure is fairly free. The poet doesn't use punctuation; instead, he begins a new line when he wants us to pause in our reading. This slows the poem down and gives us time to appreciate each idea. The poem appears very fragmented on the page. Do you think that this might suggest the fragmented or 'broken' nature of society? Structure

17 The poem is written in the present tense. This gives a sense of immediacy - we feel that the poem is happening now. It also suggests that the huge gap between rich and poor is a problem now, too. Language The language is modern, simple and sometimes colloquial (eg, 'cool couple'). There are short cuts - & is used instead of 'and' (lines 12 and 24).

18 Has it failed, because there is still an obvious gap between rich and poor? Or would it be unrealistic to expect a perfect democracy, free of class distinctions? What do you think the political views of the Two Scavengers and the Two Beautiful People might be? What point is Ferlinghetti making about American democracy?

19 1.in a loud, angry tone, to protest about the failure of democracy? 2.in a quiet tone, to express sadness that a gap remains between rich and poor? 3.in a dramatic tone, so that we wonder what may happen between the two pairs of people? Tone A good way to decide on the tone of a poem is to work out how you would read it aloud. Should this poem be read:

20 The ideas in this poem are to do with the extreme divisions between rich people and poor people in a supposedly equal society, and the effect these divisions have on how people see each other. Have a look at the following quotations, and the suggestions about how they fit into this theme. Ideas

21 as if anything at all were possible / between them..It seems that the poet would like to believe that the two pairs he describes really could be friends - but the as if tells us he knows that is only imaginary. He feels that democracy hasn't succeeded because communication between the rich and poor is still impossible. Quotation Commentary.. the two scavengers up since four a.m. / grungy from their route We are encouraged to sympathise with these garbagemen who work anti social hours and who become dirty and smelly as a result. The specific detail (four a.m.) and the expressive word grungy make us pity them... the cool couple..The elegant couple are not described in as much detail as the garbagemen, as if the poet is less interested in them. He uses a cliché here, the cool couple - which is how they probably think of themselves.

22 Small round hard stones click under my heels, seeding grasses thrust bearded seeds into trouser cuffs, cans, trodden on, crunch in tall, purple- flowering, amiable weeds. District Six. No board says it is: but my feet know, and my hands, and the skin about my bones, and the soft labouring of my lungs, and the hot, white, inwards turning anger of my eyes. Nothing's changed By Tatamkhulu Afrika

23 Brash with glass, name flaring like a flag, it squats in the grass and weeds, incipient Port Jackson trees: new, up-market, haute cuisine, guard at the gatepost, whites only inn. No sign says it is: but we know where we belong. I press my nose to the clear panes, know, before I see them, there will be crushed ice white glass, linen falls, the single rose.

24 Down the road, working man's cafe sells bunny chows. Take it with you, eat it at a plastic table's top, wipe your fingers on your jeans, spit a little on the floor: it's in the bone. I back from the glass, boy again, leaving small mean O of small mean mouth. Hands burn for a stone, a bomb, to shiver down the glass. Nothing's changed

25 This is an autobiographical poem. Tatamkhulu Afrika lived in Cape Town's District 6, which was then a thriving mixed-race inner-city community. People of all colours and beliefs lived together peacefully, and Afrika says that he felt 'at home' there. In the 1960s, as part of its policy of apartheid the government declared District 6 a 'whites only' area, and began to evacuate the population. Over a period of years the entire area was razed to the ground. Most of it has never been built on.apartheid The poem was written just after the official end of apartheid. It was a time of hope.apartheid Context

26 Small round hard stones click under my heels, seeding grasses thrust bearded seeds into trouser cuffs, cans, trodden on, crunch in tall, purple- flowering, amiable weeds. District Six. No board says it is: but my feet know, and my hands, and the skin about my bones, and the soft labouring of my lungs, and the hot, white, inwards turning anger of my eyes. The poet returns to the wasteland that was once his home, and relives the anger he felt when the area was first destroyed.

27 Brash with glass, name flaring like a flag, it squats in the grass and weeds, incipient Port Jackson trees: new, up-market, haute cuisine, guard at the gatepost, whites only inn. No sign says it is: but we know where we belong. I press my nose to the clear panes, know, before I see them, there will be crushed ice white glass, linen falls, the single rose. He sees a new restaurant: expensive and stylish with a guard at the gatepost.

28 Down the road, working man's cafe sells bunny chows. Take it with you, eat it at a plastic table's top, wipe your fingers on your jeans, spit a little on the floor: it's in the bone. I back from the glass, boy again, leaving small mean O of small mean mouth. Hands burn for a stone, a bomb, to shiver down the glass. Nothing's changed The deep anger he feels makes him want to destroy the restaurant - to smash the glass with a stone, or a bomb. He thinks about the poverty around it, especially the working man's café nearby, where people eat without plates from a plastic tabletop.

29 This makes him think that despite the changing political situation, there are still huge inequalities between blacks and whites. Even though South Africa is supposed to have changed, he knows the new restaurant is really 'whites-only'. He feels that nothing has really changed. Important point

30 On the page, the poem is set out in six stanzas, each of eight fairly short lines. This kind of regularity in the lay-out creates a sense of control: the poet is very clear about what he is feeling - no sudden flying into a rage.stanzas The length of the sentences varies from a whole stanza to just two words. Structure

31 The whole poem is written in the present tense. Although he is recalling a past experience, it is as if the poet is re-living the experience as he writes.present tense It puts us 'in the poet's shoes'. It is as if we are walking with the poet across the rough ground. As the poem develops, it is easy to imagine where we are walking or standing, and what we see. Language

32 The images in the poem - of the wasteland itself, the expensive restaurant, and the working man's cafe - are sharply contrasted.images Which two images seem to you to highlight most strongly the inequalities which the poet observes? Imagery

33 Angrily, to show the poet's attitude to the fact that nothing has changed? Or in a resigned way, as if he knows that it's almost too much to hope that things can change? Tone A good way to decide on the tone of a poem is to work out how you would read it aloud. Should this poem be read:

34 ' "Nothing's Changed" is entirely autobiographical. I can't quite remember when I wrote this but I think it must have been about District Six was a complete waste by then, and I hadn't been passing through it for a long time. But nothing has changed. Not only District Six... I mean we may have a new constitution, we may have on the face of it a beautiful democracy, but the racism in this country is absolutely redolent. We try to pretend to the world that it does not exist, but it most certainly does, all day long, every day, shocking and saddening and terrible. Look, I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, because I don't feel like that at all. I am full of hope. But I won't see it in my lifetime. It's going to take a long time. I mean in America it's taken all this time and it's still not gone... So it will change. But not quickly, not quickly at all.' Tatamkhulu Afrika wrote this about his poem:


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