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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.