Formalistic approach toward New York Times, by Sudeep Sen
Mehdi Hassanian esfahani
Literary Theory (BBL5201)
New York Times is a poem by Sudeep Sen in six stanzas, each stanza consist of five lines. The setting
of place is New York City; there is no specific reference to a narrower place, but five lines in each
stanza may suggest the five boroughs of New York, to represent the whole city. The setting of time is
the 20th century for sure; this running, scurry and the always alive, always crowded city is more
familiar in the 20th century.
It is narrated through the first person point of view. The persona would be a middle-aged
educated person, busy with his/her job and his/her social life. We see the world through the
narrator’s point of view, but there is almost no hint of subjective comments or bias in his/her words.
He/she is like a camera, presenting what he/she sees and thinks, he/she wonders what they mean.
There are no other characters around, except the persona.
The argument is about the time. Concerning about time, narrator splits the poem from the
last line of 4th stanza, where time “takes its toll”. There are differences between these two parts.
Poem starts with a speedy opening, passes and moves quickly by breath-taking words, such
as “scurry”, “flee”, “coffee”. It is about the haste in life, which is essential for a New Yorker, and is a
part of everyday life. Persona runs to catch his/her life. Working, doing the job, and living, but this
persona is not satisfied with this rush. He/she seeks a peace of mind. Tone is fast here, realistic and
frustrated, as if he/she cannot continue his/her run.
The next part comes consequently, when the narrator thinks of something which is lost now;
peaceful, relaxing, slow version of doing the same things. Narrator’s tone is sad, and frustrated. It
does not try to change anything, just sighs and advises that there is another way of living too. He/she
is unable to reach that, but tries to awake the other people. Here sentences are full of stops,
adjectives are slow in pronunciation and narrator lingers to goes on. Narrator’s tone is formal and
Diction in this poem is educated, formal but familiar to everyday language. It is friendly
enough to narrate persona’s life and share his/her thoughts with us. Language is similar to one
which is used in social communication. Poem’s structure is simple; there are seven sentences and a
question. There are long sentences to make New York’s skyscraper, and a short question to awake
The prevailing imagery is kinesthetic; we see and remind some movements; such as going,
coming back, running and always going again; fast or slow, in hurry or relaxed. The dominant
imagery is about moving, walking, running and scurrying. There is an abstract idea of hurrying up, in
order not to miss the situation, and the visual imagery of New York, the city which never sleeps;
where one counts “the passage of time only by weekends” as well.