Tuesday, August 10, 2021

From an inclusive to an exclusive "we" in Jack Gilbert's poem "The Lost Hotels of Paris" and collection "Refusing Heaven"

The poems in Jack Gilbert's book "Refusing Heaven" (Knopf 2005) often turn from "I" or "he" to "we" at moments of generalization. These generalizations make space for the "we" forms to refer to all of humanity, but again and again, that broad reach is undermined as the inclusive "we" becomes an exclusive "we" that refers to men but not women, as in this line break in "The Lost Hotels of Paris": "We are / allowed to visits hearts of women [...]." The clause begins with the inclusiveness of all humans but, especially given the book's overall themes, shifts to a heterosexual male "we" that seemingly excludes women from those who "are". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 10 August 2021)



Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert

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