Study Guide

The Layers Wisdom and Knowledge

By Stanley Kunitz

Wisdom and Knowledge

Wisdom? It's like Truth with a capital "T," or a universal insight, right? When it comes to wisdom, this isn't the speaker's first rodeo into the metaphysical domain. "The Layers" is about a guy who's been around the block, over the river, and through the woods… multiple times. He's learned from his elongated past and follows his principles (while interacting with otherworldly forces) to keep on keepin' on. (Learning is a lifelong journey after all, isn't it?)

Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge

  1. Why is wisdom so important to this speaker? What's he want with it, anyway?
  2. How does Kunitz portray, or personify, wisdom in this poem?
  3. What signs are we given that the speaker is growing wiser as opposed to… less wise?
  4. How does the accrual of knowledge appear to shape the speaker?

Chew on This

In "The Layers," the key to the speaker's success in the future lies in his ability to obtain and apply knowledge from his past experiences. He should be in for a good run.

According to "The Layers," gaining insight is the most rewarding pursuit in life. (And here we always thought it was an impressive shoe collection? Hmm.)

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