By Lisette Mendoza

Dana Gioia was born on December 24th, 1950 in Hawthorne, California to Italian and Mexican-American parents who had “no advanced education” making him the first member of his family to attend and graduate from a University. Gioia received his M.A. in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is also known for translating Latin, Italian, German, and Romanian poetry. Gioia is most known for his influential essay “Can Poetry Matter?” where he talks about poetry losing its importance in contemporary culture.

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The Angel with the Broken Wing

I am the Angel with the Broken Wing,
The one large statue in this quiet room.
The staff finds me too fierce, and so they shut
Faith’s ardor in this air-conditioned tomb.
The docents praise my elegant design
Above the chatter of the gallery.
Perhaps I am a masterpiece of sorts—
The perfect emblem of futility.
Mendoza carved me for a country church.
(His name’s forgotten now except by me.)
I stood beside a gilded altar where
The hopeless offered God their misery.
I heard their women whispering at my feet—
Prayers for the lost, the dying, and the dead.
Their candles stretched my shadow up the wall,
And I became the hunger that they fed.
I broke my left wing in the Revolution
(Even a saint can savor irony)
When troops were sent to vandalize the chapel.
They hit me once—almost apologetically.
For even the godless feel something in a church,
A twinge of hope, fear? Who knows what it is?
A trembling unaccounted by their laws,
An ancient memory they can’t dismiss.
There are so many things I must tell God!
The howling of the dammed can’t reach so high.
But I stand like a dead thing nailed to a perch,
A crippled saint against a painted sky.

Poetic Analysis:

The Angel with the broken Wing is a poem about a statue of an angel that is in an art gallery where he is displayed in an “air conditioned tomb”. The poem is told in first person by the Statue of the Angel. The poem starts off in the art gallery that he is in, and the art gallery guides praise him for his “elegant design”. As he explains where he is at, he begins to take a trip down memory lane beginning with Mendoza. No one remembers that Mendoza was the man that carved the angel statue out, but of course the statue does. The Angel then remembers why he was created, which was to go to a country church where he reflects on all the “hopeless people” that would offer their misery to God. In the poem he describes hearing the “women whispering” at his feet. Whispering prayers for the ones that are lost, dying and the dead. The angel statue then explains how it came about that his wing broke. During the Revolution troops went to vandalize the church and that’s where they hit the angel statue and when he became The Angel with the Broken Wing. I find it really interesting that he described the troopers as “almost apologetically” when they had struck him. Which lead to my favorite line from this poem, “For even the godless feel something in a church, A twinge of hope, fear?” I believe that statement to be very true in real life. For example if people see a priest walk past them they would stop cursing, if they were cursing, and they watch how they are caring themselves even if they are not religious. Furthermore, the line supports the statues detail of the troopers looking apologetic because they must have thought twice about what they were doing and they didn’t hit the angel statue a second time. The poem finishes off with the statue of an angel expressing his longing to tell God everything he has witnessed and heard but he then comes back to the realization that he is “nailed to a perch, a crippled saint against a painted sky.” Overall this poem is filled with irony and the tone of this poem has a slight hint of hopefulness and light, yet towards the end of the poem it is a sad realist tone because he reminds himself that he is stuck being the statue of The Angel with the Broken Wing.



Pity the Beautiful

Pity the beautiful,
the dolls, and the dishes,
the babes with big daddies
granting their wishes.

Pity the pretty boys,
the hunks, and Apollos,
the golden lads whom
success always follows.

The hotties, the knock-outs,
the tens out of ten,
the drop-dead gorgeous,
the great leading men.

Pity the faded,
the bloated, the blowsy,
the paunchy Adonis
whose luck’s gone lousy.

Pity the gods,
no longer divine.
Pity the night
the stars lose their shine.

Poetice Anaylsis:
Pity the beautiful is a poem that talks about the group of people we consider as “beautiful”. The poem goes through some of the key characteristics that we associate with these people on what makes their lives so great and grand and how all the superficial stuff does not matter. At the end of the day everyone gets old, no one stays young, youthful, and beautiful. The poem starts off with a stereotypical storyline of the beautiful girl and her sugar daddy or “babes with big daddies granting their wishes.” Then the poem goes on to describe the “pretty boys” and “golden lads” who seem to be so lucky enough that “success always follows” them around. This stanza and the one following just triggered my mind to the fact that all of those descriptions like “drop-dead gorgeous” and the ones mentioned before are nothing but temporary and superficial characteristics that won’t last forever. Once you’ve lost the outer beauty, and that’s all you had to offer, then that’s all you’re left with. An ugly outer shell and an ugly inside. In the last two stanzas the poet, Gioia, shifts the poem from describing these attractive people to describing the life that these people will have, once they have lost their outer beauty. In the last stanza the poet compares the beautiful people to “gods” who are “no longer divine”, meaning that they will no longer be treated like royalty or like “gods.” Overall, I feel like the tone and attitude of this poem had a bit of irony and mockery to it because of the fact that Gioia, right off the bat said “Pity the Beautiful” even though he was describing how easily life was for them. Then shattering their optimistic view on their future by talking about the stars losing their shine and the gods no longer being divine.




Looking for something in the Sunday paper,
I flipped by accident through Local Weddings,
Yet I missed the photograph until I saw
Your name among the headings.

And there you were, looking almost unchanged,
Your hair still long, though now long out of style,
And you still wore that stiff and serious look
You called a smile.

I felt as though we sat there face to face.
My stomach tightened. I read the item through.
It said too much about both families,
Too little about you.

Finished at last, I threw the paper down,
Stung by jealousy, my mind aflame,
Hating this man, this stranger whom you loved,
This printed name.

And yet I clipped it out to put away
Inside a book like something I might use,
A scrap I knew I wouldn’t read again
Yet couldn’t bear to lose.

Analysis :

I really like this Poem because I feel like a lot of people could relate to the man’s emotions and feelings towards the news he stumbles upon. The poem is about a man who discovers in The Sundays News that his ex-girlfriend or his former significant other is now married and the poem goes through the man’s thoughts and emotions towards the situation. The poem is told in first person as if the man was speaking to the women from the picture. The first thing I noticed right away, from the first stanza, was the irony and foreshadowing of the first line and throughout the whole poem. The first stanza caught my attention as I read it because the first line reads, “Looking for something in the Sunday paper” and then it turns out that he finds her name in the heading under the “Local Weddings”. The fact that he said he was “looking for something” is a foreshadow itself because he did end up finding something, something really important and the irony is that he actually finds out that the women who he used to be linked with, is now married to another man, and that is definitely something. Another irony about the first stanza was the fact that is says “Local Weddings” and from what the poem gives off it does not give any hint that he had any idea she was getting married which is ironic because they must be living nearby, each other since its “local” weddings, but he did not find out till that moment when he accidently flipped to it on the newspaper. In the second stanza I definitely picked up a kind bitter and hurt tone because of his choice of words. He was saying how he notices that not much has changed about her. He mentions how she still has her long hair but that it is “now long out of style”, as if trying to find something about her to talk bad about or pick at because he is clearly hurt and bitter. He also mentioned that she still has “that stiff and serious look” she called a “smile” which just adds to the bitter and hurt tone of this poem. More evidence that supports the tone is in the second to last stanza where he openly states that he was “Stung by jealousy”. This stanza is definitely more vivid in imagery with describing himself throwing the paper and his “mind aflame”, which gave me the visual of his face and neck being cherry red of anger. What I also like about this particular part of the stanza is that he is real about admitting “hating this man, this stranger whom you loved,” yet that man has not necessarily done anything to him in fact he hasn’t even had him face to face, he is just “this printed name.” The last stanza was probably my favorite because it is real and relatable, to me at least because he talks about clipping that part of the newspaper inside a book as if he would use it but he knows he won’t, he just doesn’t want to let it go and/or lose it. Which is talking about how sometimes we like to hold on to things we know we shouldn’t because it torments us but we just cannot seem to let go and for him I think this picture is that thing he holds on to because it reminds him of the old days when she use to be with him, since she hasn’t changed much in her outer appearance.



This is my past where no one knows me.
These are my friends whom I can’t name—
Here in a field where no one chose me,
The faces older, the voices the same.

Why does this stranger rise to greet me?
What is the joke that makes him smile,
As he calls the children together to meet me,
Bringing them forward in single file?
I nod pretending to recognize them,
Not knowing exactly what I should say.
Why does my presence seem to surprise them?
Who is the woman who turns away?

Is this my home or an illusion?
The bread on the table smells achingly real.
Must I at last solve my confusion,
Or is confusion all I can feel?

This poem made me realize that I really enjoy and appreciate ABAB rhyme schemes. This particular poem, since it clear to tell that it is an ABAB rhyme scheme poem, helped me reflect on the other Dana Gioia poems and recognize that is he also had them ABAB patterned. However, the poem Reunion is about a person who is attending a reunion. The poem to me seems like one is reading the man’s thoughts of his walk through the reunion and I find that pretty neat cause, again like I have said in the other Dana Gioia poems I have analyzed, the thoughts are real and relatable and I am pretty sure they are thoughts that have crossed through mind we have reunited with people we haven’t seen in a long time. I love the first stanza because it kind of sets everything in perspective for the reader that this the past where no one knows him and the friends he cannot name. I like the second to last line in the first stanza it reads: “Here in a field where no one chose me,” I interpret this as like these are the people who did not chose to stay or make the effort to stay relevant in his life and even the women who did not chose to be with him. The opening line in the second stanza is my favorite line of this whole poem because it’s a phrase that has crossed my mind more than in my lifetime, therefore making it so real and relatable to me. It reads, “Why does this stranger rise to greet me?”, which is a thought that has for sure crossed a everyone’s mind who has ever been forced to meet old relatives who’ve you never seen before or remember. The following sentence is great, “what is the joke that makes him smile”, it gives me an image of an over exaggerated smile that is clearly being forced and fake because the man in this poem has not told a joke or done anything funny that could be the cause of his smile. The last stanza kind of made me realize that overall the poem had an emotionless tone until it got to the end and Gioia used words like “achingly real” and saying “or is confusion all I feel” to describe how the aroma of the breads is making him remember a little more but not enough to get the emotionless feeling and confusion away.