1) Introduction (paragraph): Poetry is one of the most wonderful ways for anyone to present their thoughts or feelings on any given issue that they have in mind. ‘The Mercy’ by Philip Levine is one that not only carries deep feelings, but also does it in simple language, so simple that anyone can both understand and identify with. He tells us of the story of his mother’s voyage as a young girl from a foreign land into America through New York. He vividly captures the loneliness and hardships of the voyage. Although the year of the voyage has not been specified, he has indicated that it happened ‘eighty three years ago’. ‘The Mercy’ is a perfect representation of what it was like for immigrants coming in to an unknown land, the suffering they went through, the uncertainties and above all, the sad truth of finding that not much was ay different in the new land compared to what they were supposedly running away from. This one page analysis seeks to make this hardship understood to anyone with an interest in what it was like to be an immigrant in voyage and highlight the uncertainties that came with it.
a) Supporting point 1: In stanza three all through to stanza eight, Levine tells us of his mother’s encounter with an orange for the first time. He paints her as helpless and clueless and one can only feel sorry for her.
b) Supporting point 1: His narration on how she tried to have this orange with its peel still on, thinking it was a banana is a clear depiction on how she, and many other immigrants, were unaware of so much outside their homes. The seaman is seen when he wipes her mouth for her depicting her as helpless. He also ‘taught her the word “orange,” saying it patiently over and over. This further emphasizes the sympathy he has for her.
c) Supporting point 2: Levine’s mother helplessness is further insisted upon in line thirteen all through to fifteen.
i) Supporting point 2a: He depicts her as a girl in search for her family. This could mean she intended to start a new one or the one she knew had left her and she took this journey to join them.
ii) Supporting point 2b: Her prayers to find her family were in Russian and Yiddish, a foreign language to New York where she was going to meet her family. These prayers, Levine says, were ‘unheard, misunderstood or perhaps ignored’.
d) Supporting point 3: Besides speaking in a language that no one understood, the immigrants on ‘The Mercy’ suffered from diseases and death. The ship was documented to have docked for thirty one days in quarantine before the passengers were allowed to get off.
e) Supporting point 4: Levine enlightens us on the different ships that came into the U.S.A carrying passengers that had to endure the long journeys full of uncertainty. He uses the words like ‘waves of darkness’ and ‘alien shores’ to show us how none of them really knew what to expect. All they had been hope that the new and they were coming into would present better situations than what they had left behind.
Supporting point 4a: However, in stanza thirty two and three, the example of the Italian miners shows us that what was hoped for and dreamed of was not so.
Supporting point 4b: We are also told at the end that his mother made it but she survived on mercy, only meaning that she had to endure much more upon arrival. This fills the readers themselves with uncertainty.
a). At the end of it, it is important for all readers to note that even if the author’s mother made it, she endured a lot of hardship during and after this voyage and this is why it is important for us to appreciate where our predecessors came from to make out country what it is today.