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Analysis

Thanatopsis Setting

Where It All Goes Down

OK, this might throw you off at first, but here’s how we see it. This whole poem has a kind of floaty feeling. All the things we see and hear about seem far away to us, as if we were looking down on them from way high up. Still, it’s not like being in a plane, zooming along behind a plastic window, drinking a soda and watching reruns of Real Housewives of Orange County. There’s nothing noisy and cramped about this poem. Instead, we imagine being in the basket of a hot air balloon, drifting along, looking down at the world.

The speaker gives us a grand tour of nature. We check out hills and valleys, streams and rivers, the deserts of Africa and the forests of the Pacific Northwest. For a moment, we feel like we’re getting some real perspective on the world, rising above our everyday worries and seeing a bigger picture.

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