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Are you a bright, cheery type of person, or a concentrated and exciting one? Poems often have differences and similarities, and depending on what you prefer, you may enjoy some poems more than others. E.E. Cumming’s “in Just-” is a poem about a balloon man announcing spring by calling all the children with his whistle so they’ll come buy balloons. Essex Hemphill’s “American Hero” is about someone attempting to win a basketball game. The two poems have similar alliteration, but very different metaphors, imagery, free verse, onomatopoeia, and tone.
The only similarity “in Just-” and “American Hero” have is alliteration. Both apply alliteration sparingly, using it only when necessary. This causes the poems to have a smoother flowing feeling, not abrupt and sudden. One example of alliteration from “American Hero” is the line, “slick in my sweat” (6). An example from “in Just-” is “Whistles far and wee” (5). Alliteration always gives poems a machine gun feeling, repeating the same sound over and over. The lack of alliteration causes the poems to flow more smoothly.
One difference between “in Just-” and “American Hero” is their metaphors. “American Hero,” for one thing, doesn’t use many metaphors, whereas “in Just-” uses several. Also, “American Hero” uses indirect metaphors, while “in Just-” uses direct metaphors. A metaphor from “American Hero” is, “It’s a shimmering club light, and I’m dancing” (5, 6), while one from “in Just-” is “The world is puddle-wonderful” (10). This makes “in Just-” more open and gives “American Hero” a more crowded and tense feeling.
The imagery in these two poems are not alike. In “in Just-,” spaces are used to help show imagery, while “American Hero” shows its imagery more directly. An example of imagery from “American Hero” is “Shimmering club light” (5). This is extremely visual imagery that can easily be seen in the mind’s eye. The imagery in “in Just-” uses it’s format to show imagery, for example, “And bettyandisbel come dancing” (14). The lack of spaces helps show how Betty and Isbel are good friends, and how they’re rushing to the balloons.
Free verse is another way in which the two poems are different. One example of free verse in “in Just-” is,
“And bettyandisbel come dancing” (14)
. The odd way of spacing in “in Just-” causes the reader to slow down or speed up depending on whether there are spaces missing or added. “American Hero’s” is
“through the net. The crowd goes wild
u u /
u / u
for our win. I scored” (12, 13)
“American Hero” is basically just a story put into a poem format, and doesn’t have much meter.
The poems are also different in their onomatopoeia. “[I]n Just-” uses onomatopoeia that makes the reader cheery and makes them think of happy thing. “American Hero’s” on the other hand, is jolting and rough. For example, “American Hero” uses words like “cheer” and “slap,” while in Just- uses words like “whistles.” Cheer and slap are jarring and loud, while whistling is softer and is usually only done when people are happy.
The tone in “American Hero” is serious and concentrated, and “in Just-” is cheerful and happy. The tone in “American Hero” is explained through the sentences “I have nothing to lose” (1) “I slam it through the net” (11, 12). The tone in “in Just-” is explained in the sentences “The world is puddle-wonderful” (10) “Mud-luscious” (2, 3). The tone is bright and cheery and is portrayed throughout the poem.
E.E. Cumming’s “in Just-” has many differences, and a few similarities to Essex Hemphill’s poem “American Hero.” Both poems are alike in alliteration, but in most other poetic elements,such as metaphors, imagery, free verse, onomatopoeia, and tone, are unalike.
Hemphill, Essex. “American Hero.” Elements of Literature: Third Course. Ed Kathleen Daniel. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Cummings, E.E. “in Just-.” Elements of Literature: Third Course. Ed Kathleen Daniel. Austin:Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.