‘Two Scavengers’ describes a specific moment in time; at a red traffic light at 9am,in San Francisco, two bin men, on their way home from work, have a brief meeting with two ‘beautiful’ people on their way to work. Ferlinghetti uses this encounter to draw us in to asking ourselves about social class and whether it is right to class people in this way. He also manages to link this in with the idea of the ‘American Dream’ and whether it has been accomplished.
Ferlinghetti uses language like ‘the high seas of this democracy’ to achieve this effect; this could be taken to mean that, although, part of the ‘American Dream’, real democracy is never easy to succeed. This also suggests that Ferlinghetti, himself, believes that it has clearly not been succeeded in America.
Ferlinghetti shows through the poem that he does not ‘believe’ in the ‘American Dream’. For example, ‘looking down into’, on the surface this line is referring to the fact they (the bin men) are higher and looking down, but it could also mean they look down on the ‘beautiful’ people because they are happier than them- this demolishes the whole idea of the ‘American Dream’. However, it could also be meant to emphasis the great distance between them in terms of social class and status, but, whatever the meaning behind this line is it paints a very poor picture of the ‘American Dream, because no matter what way you look at it the desired effect is not being succeeded.
The ‘American Dream’ is an idea that has been planted in people’s minds that they can achieve whatever they like in America. I feel, Ferlinghetti is making a point to discard this belief through this poem, doing this not only through the language, but also through the structure and layout. For example, he has used uneven line lengths to show inequality. This is continued throughout the poem, as the lack of punctuation; the lack of punctuation suggests that this unfair situation is set to continue. However, Ferlinghetti also uses it to remind us that this all happened very quickly, emphasising how people ignore this injustice on a day-to-day basis.
Another poem that uses layout and language for effect is ‘Night of the Scorpion’. ‘Night of the Scorpion’ is, like ‘Two Scavengers’ presented as a recollection. However there are no similarities between the events; ‘Night of the Scorpion’ is the poet recollecting a night his mother got stung by a scorpion when he was a child. Therefore, the event is told through the eyes of a child throughout the poem, giving us a frightening picture of the night.
To start, the poet alludes to evil in the phrase ‘diabolic tail’, comparing the scorpion to the devil. This also links in with the theme of the religious beliefs in the community. Again, in line ten the scorpion is seen as the devil, ‘the Evil One’. These comparisons between the devil and the scorpion emphasise the child’s fear.
We can also imagine the fear of the child observing, as the peasants’ created ‘giant scorpion shadows’ on the walls of his home. This also suggesting the child wishes the ‘peasants’ were not there and sees them as a nuisance, as with the simile ‘the peasants came like swarms of flies’: this also suggesting the villagers are not really wanted or needed in the hut. Additionally, it links in with the theme of culture and traditions within the village by suggesting their lack of individuality, which shows us that everyone brought up in this setting shares the same, religious fuelled, beliefs.
And it is these religious beliefs that guide the villagers response to the scorpion, ‘ clicked their tongues’, this s a description, using onomatopoeia, of the villagers whilst they searched for the scorpion, because they believe that whenever the scorpion moved its poison ‘moved in Mother’s blood’.
Ezekiel also uses structure to show these religious beliefs. For instance, he uses parallel lines to create a feel of the ‘peasants’ chanting, or, praying.
Altogether, both Ferlinghetti and Ezekial uses language and layout in many ways to create an effect form their reader, with both of the incorporating other poetic devices to make this response even more powerful.