Ellis Island (Poem Analysis)

Ellis Island

Joseph Bruchac wrote the poem “Ellis Island and it talks about the American dream. The speaker of the poem is an American who planned to tour the Ellis Island and is having mixed feelings about the issue of immigration. On one side, he is happy that his parents came to America while on the other, he thinks that the immigrants came to take over the Native American land. Bruchac uses different themes, personification, and symbolism to represent the idea of the American dream since the immigrants came to America to seek a better life.

Among the themes portrayed in the poem is a journey. The immigrants came to America without nothing except a few pennies, and they had the hope of attaining better jobs an education. This goal to succeed in life would, in turn, be reflected in the American dream. As well, they were in search of freedom whereby they could own land and carry out beneficial activities in life. According to the poet, a dream of forest waited for the individuals who had worked for so many years but had nothing that they could describe as their own. The journey of the immigrants ended when they found the Ellis Island and decided to settle in it. Years later, their lives had changed to fit into the American dream. The process through which their lives changed through hard work and determination is also a reflection of the theme of journey.

In addition, the theme of living without has also been used in the poem to illustrate the American dream. The speaker of the poem talks about how he left his ancestry land without anything in search of greener pastures. It pains him that he had to leave that land and wishes that things could have been different. In most cultures, people believe that the ancestry land is part of someone’s life and should not be abandoned. However, the urge to have a better life forced the immigrants to settle in Ellis Island and forget about the ancestry land and all that it had. In Ellis Island, they had found freedom and could recover their lives by searching for wealth to fulfill the gap left when the migrated without anything. The goal of fulfilling this gap results to the people working towards the achievement of the American dream.

As well, personification is highly used to represent the beauty of the Ellis Island. The poet terms it as a forest of dreams made to accommodate the immigrants who had been working for so many years but had nothing. Dreams are associated with human beings instead of forests. This shows the American dream by emphasizing on the manner in which the land was even ready to provide a conducive environment necessary to achieve the dream. The poet could have been talking about the dream that the immigrants had about having a good life and compared it to the forests of the Ellis Island. The Island was a depiction of a destination that would, in turn, help people to change for the better.

The main symbol used in the poem is the Ellis Island. The speaker migrates with the hope of finding a good life that is full of freedom. Such a life could only be achieved in a destination that was conducive and different from the situation in the ancestry land. Therefore, the fulfillment of this dream is the Ellis Island because the immigrants found land that could enable them to achieve all that they had dreamt about. The poet talks of a forests dream which is a comparison of the immigrant’s dream. The beauty of the Island is a representation of good education, jobs and a better life as compared to the life that they had before the migration. The American dream is portrayed in the fact that the immigrants wanted a good life and they took the initiative of leaving their ancestors land in search for such kind of life. As a result, of their determination, they ended up settling in Ellis Island whereby they were able to achieve their dreams and have the freedom that they yearned for.

The poem “Ellis Island” has successfully represented the idea of the American dream through the application of the different poetic devices. Themes are an important part of a poem and have to be there in order to create a meaningful story.  The Poem circulates the issue of immigration. In real life, the reasons to why people migrate from one country to another are for the search of better education and jobs as compared to what they have in their ancestral land. In addition, political unrest and war in a country could also be a result of migration as they search for freedom.  The American dream is all about having a good education and wealthy enough to survive the current economy. Therefore, the above reasons for migration have a similar goal to the American dream. Hence, the poem is an allegory to this dream.

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