Paper Example. Explication Essay for Poem "Money"

Published: 2023-10-16
Paper Example. Explication Essay for Poem "Money"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Poem Analysis Money
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1323 words
12 min read

“Money” is a poem revolving around the essential topics and use of cash. It is a composition of Michael Dana Gioia. Dana is a renowned American poet and writer. He is a Californian born of an Italian and Mexican crossbreed. Dana was born on December 24th, 1950. He started his writing career at an early stage in life where he used to write at night while he was working part-time during the day. Dana has composed numerous fiction and nonfiction content, which have earned him an “award-winning poet” title. Some of his notable awards include the Presidential Citizens medial that he won in 2008 and the Laetare Medal of 2010. He has also served in many prestigious positions in arts-related organizations, including being a chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Currently, Dana has authored over four collections of poetry. Money is one of the poems in this collection. It revolves around the general topics that deal with money, including its use, what it can do, what it is made of, among other themes. The paper offers a critical analysis of the poem Money.

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Each of the stanzas and lines in the poem examines a different aspect of money. For instance, in the first stanza, the poet discusses the general framework of money. He analyses what makes money before moving on to the general terms used when referring to money. He knits the first stanza by addressing the creation of money. The second stanza of the poem, specifically addresses what an individual can accomplish with money (Gioia, 1983). The poet, in the lines of this stanza, explores the different things that people with money can do. He uses the most general terms to achieve his communication.

In the third stanza, Dana focuses on people who have money. He examines some of the essential character traits that money imparts on individuals. People who have money, particularly those who have lots of it, are the ones that the lines in this stanza seem to address. The fourth stanza explores the capabilities of money. The lines in this stanzas use symbolism when addressing what money is capable of accomplishing. Dana, in the lines of the fifth stanza, points out the fact that money has sort of a magnetic effect. He categorically addresses the ability of money to multiply through the creation of more money. The sixth and final stanza’s lines sum up the poem by focusing on money directly. Dana, in this stanza, personifies money by pointing out to its ability to talk. Dana makes a heavier statement in the first line of the last stanza when he talks directly to the audience about the quality of money that gives it the ability to “talk” even though money does not literally utter any words (Gioia, 1983).

Dana employs numerous literary devices in the poem. One such application is the use of the figures of speech, which entails the phrases that stand in the text and take a non-literal form. Such applications are essential in the poem as the emphasis on the theme and point that the author wishes to convey. Money contains several figures of speech. For instance, Dana uses metaphoric expressions when he compares objects. An excellent example of this application is through the use of the word “dough” in the last line of the first stanza (Gioia, 1983). Literally, the word does not mean money the way it does in the poem. In this case, Dana uses the word as a metaphor that offers an exclusive comparison of money to bread. Thus, a critical analysis of the poem would reveal that since bread is a basic necessity, money holds the same position. Other words and phrases that play the same role in the poem include “long green”, “stash”, “burn holes through pockets”, among others (Gioia, 1983).

The phrase, “To be made of it!” in the first line of the third stanza is hyperbole or an exaggeration expression (Gioia, 1983). The phrase implies that some people are made of money, which literally does not make sense. Therefore, Dana uses the phrase in the poem to refer to wealthy people. The final stanza of the poem is rich in figures of speech. One of them is the use of personification in the lines of the poem. The author gives money the capabilities of a human. The application of personification is evident through the phrase, “And it talks” in the last line of the last stanza. In reality, money cannot talk. Therefore, the use of the phrase is a form of the figure of speech. The phrase “…put it where your mouth is” in the second line of the last stanza is a figure of speech known as a connotation (Gioia, 1983). The phrase has an inner meaning, and thus should not be taken in a literal form. Anaphora, which takes a repetition at the start of the lines is a vital poetic element and figure of speech. The application of this element is evident in the poem in its third stanza through phrases like “to be”, “to have” and “to burn” (Gioia, 1983). Overall, the figure of speech that the author uses in the poem adds the aesthetic value of the poem. It makes the poem interesting while at the same time, emphasizing the ultimate themes of the poem.

Dana uses the poem, Money, to offer a vivid interpretation and explanation of the meaning of money. In the poem, the author portrays money as an essential aspect of human survival. He also indicates that money may contribute to some kind of an addiction. The form of addiction that Dana examines in the poem is that of power that comes with money and richness. The idea of this kind of attribute is evident through the lines that state that “Chock it up, fork it over, shell it out. Watch it burn holes through pockets,” affirming that richness that comes with a lot of money turns it to an instrument of power (Gioia, 1983).

A close evaluation of the poem reveals that Dana believes that the belief in the success that comes with money and wealth can be a mere illusion and deceptive. Therefore, he points out that it has both positivity and negativity despite being a necessity in human life and survival. The theme of the deceptive nature of money clearly manifests in the last stanza of the poem. According to Dana, “Money. You don't know where it's been, but you put it where your mouth is. And it talks.” (Gioia, 1983). The phrase in this last stanza reflects the common gambling languages where people believe in “putting their money where their mouth is.” Dana uses this idea to explore his belief in the ability of money to transform people (Kuzma, 1988). He expresses that people have a certain level of obsession when it comes to money and richness. Therefore, one can take Money to be focusing on the overall theme of viewing money as everything. In the poem, Dana uses common language and saying when examining the theme. The author fixes common terms in a poetic structure. Therefore, one can say that the poem takes a lighthearted tone in some way. A critical examination of the poem also reveals that the author employs an undertone in the poem. The symbolism and stylistic knitting in the poem enhance its themes (Kuzma, 1988).

Conclusively, Money is a poem that calls people to the realization of money as a necessity while at the same time emphasizing on the point that it has some tied negativities. The poem means that money can make people do things they can hardly think about doing. Therefore, to me, the poem means that we cannot keep on adoring and worshiping money. Through the poem, we learn the essentials of money and the responsibilities that come with it.


Gioia, D. (1983). Business and poetry. The Hudson Review, 36(1), 147-171.

Kuzma, G. (1988). Dana Gioia and the Poetry of Money. Northwest Review, 26(3), 111.

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