Dignity Poem Essay


In his poem “Dignity”, Richard Cole focuses on the problem of work experience and the process of work. At the same time, the author vividly depicts the expectations of the narrator to be rewarded for his job and also Richard Cole critically evaluates the work routine and the obstacles the narrator faces before receiving long expected reward. In order to achieve positive effect and attract readers to the narrator and his problems the poet amply uses symbols and metaphors which brings up particular shades of meaning to certain parts of the poem. Furthermore, the author attempts to convey personal relations between the narrator and other people that make the poem rather realistic.

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Thus, it is possible to state that the poet describes the work experience of the narrator, challenges and problems he face in the creating and promotion of his work, interpersonal relations and the deserved reward for the hard work of the narrator, which actually makes him full of dignity.


“Dignity” is one of the best poem which is characterized by great expressionism of the narrator’s feelings and emotions closely related to his work. In fact, the poet, Richard Cole has managed to convey to readers his ideas concerning the power of creative work and the problems the narrator faces in everyday life. In this respect, symbolism and the use of metaphors are very helpful in the better understanding of the narrator’s world. For instance, the poet regularly employs references to the Civil War which he probably compares his work with.

In such a way, reader has a possibility to perfectly understand the narrator emotions and feelings as well as the significance of his work for himself. For instance, his brochure being written ‘right on deadline’ is metaphorically compared to the chalk line drawn around POW camps in Civil War.

At the same time, it should be pointed out that to properly do the job is not sufficient for the narrator. One of his major goals is to bring this work to the ‘Major Client’, i.e. the author probably implies that the good work is the work well perceived by the clients. In such a situation, the narrator underlines that it is also an extremely difficult task to deliver the work to the client and he readily overcomes obstacles he faces on his way to the client, so that he is even ‘making midtown in the record time’.

Furthermore, the author emphasizes the importance of the client’s satisfaction with the work. In fact, the client does not simply like the narrator’s work but he loves it. Only on receiving positive reaction from the client and being properly rewarded for his work, the narrator can ‘breathe freely’ and be proud of his work so that the work helps to improve his dignity. Thus, he can sign his name ‘with dignity’.


Richard Cole is one of the most interesting contemporary poets. Often his works raise problems and themes which extremely important nowadays. One of such themes is the theme of work and work experience, the poet skillfully discusses in his poem “Dignity”. In fact, the poet underlines that work is one of the main conditions of human dignity and satisfaction.

In this respect, it is worthy to note that it is not easy task to gain dignity and satisfaction. In stark contrast, work experience is so difficult that the poet metaphorically compares it with the Civil War and his poem written ‘right on deadline’ is compared to the ‘chalk line drawn around POW camps in Civil War. At the same time, the author emphasizes the importance of the work which should be properly done in time since, otherwise, it is a great threat to the individual’s future. In this respect, it is possible to trace a close link between a prisoner of POW camps of the Civil War period and the narrator who is not less responsible for his work. For the consequences of his work would not probably be as dramatic as the perspective to be killed for the prisoner, but still, the author emphasizes the possibility of negative consequences for the narrator in the case of improper done work.

Not surprisingly, in such a situation the narrator is ready to commit heroic acts in order to bring his work to the ‘major client’. And again his way resembles the way of a warrior of the Civil War epoch through ‘bombing up Third Avenue’, ‘police barricades’. Nonetheless, the narrator does his best ‘making midtown in the record time’ to arrive in time and presents his work to the client.

And, finally, the poet focuses on interpersonal relations between the narrator and the client who loves the work. It means that the properly done job, being delivered in time contributes to positive interpersonal relations. Moreover, such work may be properly rewarded.

As a result, the narrator, only on receiving long expected reward, can fully realize the significance of his work and of his personality. In fact, this leads him to the increase of his self-esteem and dignity so that, on fulfilling the routine, he can finally concentrate on the things he really loves.

Thus, it is obvious that properly done work is a synonym of dignity, self-esteem and good relations with surrounding people since, being hard, it is still properly rewarded that is very important for each individual and his dignity.


  1. Cole, Richard. Selected Works. New York: New Publishers, 2004.
  2. Williams, George. Modern Poetry. LA: McGraw Hill, 2004.

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