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Themes

One of the central mysteries of the poem is, why are the faces the poets sees an "apparition"? This word usually refers to ghosts or supernatural spirits. Pound seems to be comparing the beautiful strangers in the subway to ghosts who appear suddenly and then disappear from your life just as fast. You catch a glimpse and that’s it. Plus, the subway is underground, which could make a reader think of epics like the Aeneid, the The Odyssey, and the Inferno, which all include journeys to the Underworld.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. How do the passengers in the subway station resemble ghosts?
  2. Could the underground station refer back to the Underworld described in Classical epics like the Aeneid? If so, how would this connection change the way we read the poem?
  3. Some critics think that "apparition" is the most important word in the poem. Do you agree?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The subway does not represent the Underworld because it would not fit with the peaceful natural imagery of the second line.

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