Sample Essay

Words 2,120

A Death at the Office is a poem about the inhumanity of the modern age. The impersonal and indifferent bureaucratic machinery of the management boxes up worker’s personal effects after death. Each of the fellow workers makes a ritualized gesture of soulless faux-grief. They divide her ballpoint pens and someone takes her bud vase. One fellow worker removes the scribbled upon pages from her office calendar, completely erasing signs of her existence from the office.

The poem contains a profound expression of lament at the disconnectedness and impersonality of modern life which converts humans into nameless, faceless cogs of the corporate machine. However this is accomplished in a tragicomic style. Especially having the line We have her ballpoints back follow But who grieves here? is very darkly comical.

A former executive in the insurance business, Ted Kooser (born 1939) has server two terms as the United States Poet Laureate. He is a presidential professor at the Department of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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