These poems strike us as commentaries on
a particularly American brand of individualism. Who are the “my people”
whose talk the speaker of “Further Travels” walks through? Similarly, the speaker of “Poppies” commands, “Take
it like a human being.” What’s inside the needle and why does it
require “the good blood”?
While neither poem was written with a subject in mind, in retrospect
both seem preoccupied with mortality. The speaker in “Further Travels”
wishes to speak publicly to other Americans, while the speaker in
“Poppies” is speaking to a part of himself. The blood in “Poppies” is
“good” because the speaker is still alive.