"Surfers at Santa Cruz"

Note the use of enjambment in this poem. Why? Use of alliteration?

Consider the viewpoint of the speaker. Does "he" represent a spectator's view? A general observer's view? Both?

Stanza one: commentary on the "young Americans"--commercialization of surfing. Time period: what ideas/value do we associate with the 60s? Read carefully for evidence. Note: author Paul Goodman's book Growing Up Absurd (1960) reflects his anti-establishment, avant-garde values. What about this poem? Is this poem a social critique in its view of sports and society?

Wetsuits are used in Santa Cruz because the water is cold. Surfboards use modern materials; the Polynesians used wooden boards.

Stanzas two and three: Reference to One World Polynesians? (You can look this up.) Bring surfing to Hawaii, where it develops as a sport? What does it suggest to compare the "young Americans" to "One World Polynesians"? Why "One World"? What is the tone of these stanzas? What attitude is revealed?

When paddling, surfers can kneel or lay flat on the board.

Why "balancing communicates/with the ocean on the Way"? Consider the good suggestions made in class.

Ninth wave: waves comes in sets. Surfers look for white caps as signs of possible waves to come.

Stanza four: How can the surfers described be "beautiful" and "ugly"? What does this last stanza suggest about the speaker's attitude about the surfers? Surfing (as a sport)?

Here's another poem about surfing. Enjoy! First published on the Atlantic Monthly website.

by Mark Jarman

They beat the edge
    Of the dawn light,
        The pearly pre-glow

Right at their heels.
    The three boys
        Carrying the fourth

Rolled in a sheet.
    They all had taken
        Something the night

Before in a beach
    House and this one
        Drowned in his sleep.

They acted quickly,
    These instinctive
        Athletes who cross

The faces of tons
    Of crushing water
        Which refrain

From curling over
    And burying them
        Alive because they

Are nimble, quick,
    Tuned to the wit
        Of their survivors'

Bodies. They hurried
    From the running car
        And laid their friend

Like a Sunday paper
    On his parents' doorstep,
        And drove off to

The place where the sharp
    New light would comb through
        The wave crests and they

Would ride below them,
    Dodging the onrush.