Poem Analysis





Poem Analysis


The poem Did I Miss Anything by Tom Wayman is a literary piece that is written with two points of view. One of the perspectives depicted by the poem is that of the student, while the other is of the teacher. The poet designed the structure of the poem such that every two stanzas relate to each other but alternate in who is speaking such that if on stanza is the opinion of the student, the teacher comes in next. The poem is such that the students represent the ‘nothing’ side of the poem as the teachers represent the ‘everything’ part (Wayman 38). This is because the absence of the teacher makes the students sit in class all day in silence with their hands folded while the teacher complains of the weighty exams, readings, and preparation of quizzes.

In stanza three, another instance that shows a student’s feeling of nothingness is based on their constant labeling of school as a waste of time. In stanza four however, the teacher contradicts this by explaining why education is important. The poem further shows that the students later realize that education is important and as a result, the fifth and sixth stanzas praise the significance of teacher’s presence in accomplishing tasks and understanding classes. The poem ends with two one-line stanzas, “but it was one place” and “And you weren’t here” which are precise in advising the students to be in class to understand what is important in the overall human experience.

History of Poet

Tom Wayman is one of the renowned voices in the Canadian poetry. He is commonly known to use daily experiences in his poetry work because he believes that they are the central parts of life that require concern. His views have been evident from his work in the 1993 and 1994 collection and he has shown a clear ability to combine both humor and stubbornness (Wayman 37). Among his collection, include The Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: New and Selected Wayman Poems (1981), Waiting for Wayman (1973), Money and Rain (1975) and Did I Miss Anything 1973-1993 (1993). Tom Wayman is a recognizable poet with nomination for awards, publishing of his own books such as the High Speed through Shoaling Water (2007) and a short fiction Boundary Country (2007).

Stylistic Interpretation of the Poem

After careful analysis, it is certain that the poem’s main theme and meaning is about the benefits of attaining an education. This is based on the use of the ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’ aspect that draws people to the text especially due to the uniqueness of how the stanzas respond to each other. In the presentation as well, the speakers tone is sarcastic throughout the poem because he insists on emphasizing that the absence of the teacher does not reduce the importance of education. Similarly, the tone shows that the poet sympathizes with teachers because they often have so much to do but their value is often unappreciated.

The use of ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’ to explain the state of mind of the two individuals and their point of views shows that the poet uses hyperboles as stylistic features to emphasis the gravity of the matter. This plays a similar role as the use of repetition of the main idea whereby the poet alternated the points of view from stanza to stanza as a point of emphasize, then uses two direct one-lined stanzas to seal idea behind the point.


The last stanza of the poem can be interpreted to support my idea of how massive and complex the world of knowledge and that acquisition of knowledge can go beyond many other things.

About the Poem

The reason behind choosing this poem is that it is a straightforward and clear interpretation of the usual operations in a classroom setting. In addition, it touches on a topic that is, it is relatable to the students such as, me, and as it goes on, the author’s style makes the poem interesting to read and understand because of the stanza design and structure. This is such that the points of views of the two personalities are separated into different stanzas making it easier to make evaluations and comparisons. This is therefore one of the important aspects of the poem that makes it unique.

To arrive at the decision to use this poem, there was an evaluation of the wide array of poems from the book, Portable literature by Kirszner and Mandel. Fortunately, due to the previous familiarity with Tom Wayman’ previous works like Money and Rain,’ the decision to choose Did I Miss Anything was easier. It is obvious that most of his works has been based on common life occurrences and therefore this makes him interesting due to the flexibility and openness at work. This poem has touched on the importance of education, which is one of the most debatable and at the same time important aspects in life. The use of the two points of view helps the readers grasp the concept of the poem way.


Works Cited

Wayman, Tom. “Did I Miss Anything?” Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. Comp. Billy Collins. New York: Random House, 2005. 37-38. Print.



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