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A Relateable Life

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“A Relatable Life From ‘The Boxer’.”

Tara Butler
English 125
Instructor: Miranda Saake
August 4, 2014

“The Boxer” written by Paul Simon (1968) is a wonderful narrative poem about a man far from home. It describes his loneliness and how homesick he is. It reminds us all to think about what we really do in life and how far we travel away from the things that really matter. As someone grows older and gains more life experience, they realize how much they may have given up and how much they would like to go back to that life. In this poem, you read about a young boy who becomes a man. Through his life of hardships, he realizes he wants to go home. He is done “fighting” so to speak. In that moment, the reader then gets to see his transformation into a man ready to cut his losses and go home.
One of the most engaging parts of this narrative is the imagery used. Simon writes, “When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy, In the company of strangers, In the quiet of the railway station, running scared…” (Simon, 1968). The amount of detail you can visualize from lines like these really make the entire poem fit together. The reason this poem is great is also the amount of ways someone can relate to it. Everyone can remember being young and frustrated with their life; wanting to just get away from everything they know. Then when the time comes and they figure out how good things probably were, they want to go back to it. It shows the influence we all have over ourselves and our own conscience. People usually learn the hard way when it’s a good time to walk away. In “The Boxer”, you realize, yourself, when that moment may have dawned on you as well. In my opinion, the content is also one of the most compelling parts of “The Boxer”. You can see the image of a boy becoming a man over the years. For example, Simon describes “Now the years are rolling by me; they are rocking evenly. And I am older than I once was and younger than I’ll be, but that’s not unusual. No it isn’t strange. After changes, more changes, we are more or less the same….” (Simon, 1968) Life is something that will always pass you by. You are either going to live it, or regret it, or try to make up for time lost. Either way, you have to live with what you do or don’t do.
“The Boxer” is a narrative that allows the reader insight into life from another perspective. Giving a semblance of another reality that could be, if things were different. I find this particular element do interesting in regards to the poem because of the way it addresses everyday situations. Loneliness, home sick feelings, the way the elements can seep into your bones and make you feel cold inside; all of these things are spread out before you in the poem. As you read along, you really see the amount of character it takes towards the end of it all when the boxer declares “I am leaving, I am leaving…But the fighter still remains” (Simon, 1968) The final literary element I find very interesting is the way it is told. “The Boxer” is a ballad. Ballads are defined as “stories not about bigger than life heroes, but about regular people” (Clugston, 2014). Regular people, doing everyday things. This particular ballad became very famous for being made into a great song by Simon and Garfunkel. Historically, ballads were known to be sung by groups of people. In my opinion, when there are mixes between music and lyrics, the power of the words seems to be amplified. There have been many renditions of Simon’s “The Boxer”, but none will compare to the original due to the way it was sung, the story behind it, and the social change that was occurring at the time. It is one of the things that make “The Boxer” relatable. In conclusion, when reading any type of poem, narrative, lyrical, or otherwise, I have always tried to place myself in the characters place, the narrators head, or with the writer of the poem. Doing this was helped me gain insight into the emotions and feeling of what the reading is all about. If it is something tragic, like Edgar Allan Poe’s poems, you will most likely feel in a dark place, if you’re reading Emerson, you may feel elated at the nature talks. But Ballads you feel because they strike chords inside you. You can see them happening to yourself. That is what has made “The Boxer” one of the most interesting poems to read to date.

References:

Clugston, R. W. (2014). Journey into literature (2nd ed.). San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Simon, P. (1968) The Boxer…...

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