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One of the Lives

One of the Lives

by M.S. Merwin

One of the Lives Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What do all of these other people (especially the red-haired boy, the soldiers, and the people who aren't his family) have to do with our speaker? 
  2. Why do you think Merwin chooses not to use punctuation in this poem? What is the effect? How does it make you feel?
  3. Why do you think the speaker is reflecting on all of this now, while he's sick in bed? 
  4. What is the effect of listing so many different people (and so many degrees of separation) at the beginning of the poem? 
  5. By the end of the poem, are you satisfied with what we've discovered about our speaker? How do you feel about him? What makes you feel the way you do?

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