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349. What The Boxer Suggests for the Future

뉴스관리자 기자2013.06.01 14:20:49

What The Boxer Suggests for the Future

 

By Kim, No-Ju, Professor at Department of English Language & Literature

 

The Boxer is a folk rock ballad written by Paul Simon in 1968 and first recorded by him and Art Garfunkel in the following year. Simon wrote the lyrics as a memorial for a Cuban boxer, Benn Perat, who died during a bout in 1962 in New York, which is now the stage of the Boxer. The lyrics are not easy to read, as they describe the hardship the boxer suffered so emotionally and suggestively. However, once we come to understand them, we cannot deny being touched by a sense of compassion for the boxer. We can also learn valuable lessons for the selection of our future careers.

In the 1st verse, the hero, 'I,' dares to confess that he is just a poor man (boy) wasting (squandering) his life (resistance) for hush money (mumbles) as a fighter. Despite the hero's wish to make a living respectably, he (a man) comes to accept his fate as a boxer because it will earn him money.

 

"I am just a poor boy though my storys seldom told.

I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles such are promises.

All lies, and jest still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the

rest, hmmmmm."

 

In the 2nd verse, the hero describes his frightening first night, spent among the homeless (strangers) in the places (poorer quarters) where they (ragged people) would stay. It was long after midnight, as the railway station was quiet, due to the suspension of train service. He was very scared to be noticed by the guard, and that's why he was "runnin' scared." He tried not to be caught by the guard, so he was "laying low."

 

"When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy

In the company of strangers, in the quiet of the railway station,

Runnin scared, laying low,

Seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go,

Looking for the places only they would know.

Li la li... <4 beating sounds that hit a punching bag>"

 

The 3rd verse states why the hero comes to New York, he comes "lookin for a job" for "workmans wages." He doesn't get any offers but the calls "from the whores on 7th Avenue." This verse stresses that he didn't come to New York to box. In this regard, we can interpret that he had no choice but to become a boxer for a living.

 

"Asking only workmans wages, I come lookin for a job, but I get no offers.

Just a "come-on" from the whores on 7th Avenue.

I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome.

I took some comfort there. Ooo-la-la....

Li la li... <4 beating sounds that hit a punching bag>"

 

In the 4th two-line couplet, the hero expresses his desperate wish to leave New York, and go home. Although the Boxer is the title of the song, the lyrics describe almost nothing about the hero's boxing life. We do not know how long he has been a boxer, or how good he was at boxing. Why does Simon, the songwriter, not describe those points? It is because the boxing life is too sad or too miserable to describe with words. People can encounter a situation, which is too sad to express.

 

"Then Im laying out my winter clothes, wishing I was gone, going home,

Where the New York city winters aren't bleedin me, bleedin me, goin home."

 

In the final verse, the hero, now represented by 'he,' is defined as "a fighter by his trade," which means that he is not a born fighter but fights to make money. For every bout, he was hit relentlessly by his opponents until he cried out in his anger and his shame "I'll not go for another bout, I'll leave the world of boxing and go home." However, he remains there because the bondage of life is too hard for him to escape. A punching bag is a tool boxers use to practice, but in this song, the hero is such a poor boxer that he plays the role of a punching bag for his opponents. You can hear a beating sound 4 times after the 2nd verse, again after the 3rd verse, and then an additional 32 times after the final verse. What does the punching bag stand for? It is the hero himself. What do the beating sounds represent? They are punches the hero takes.

 

"In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade

And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him

Till he cried out in his anger and his shame

"I am leaving, I am leaving."

But the fighter still remains.

Li la li... <32 beating sounds that hit a punching bag>"

 

I wish the readers of this essay to feel deep pity for the boxer at this moment. Now, let's consider what this song tells us about our future careers. It gives us three important lessons for our job selections. The three priorities we must consider for our job selections are: (i) whether we are able to feel spontaneous interests in our jobs, (ii) whether we have aptitude to our jobs, and finally (iii) whether we want to go with our jobs until retirement. First, the hero is forced to be a boxer, and thus he doesn't feel any spontaneous interest in what he is doing. Second, he becomes a boxer before he seriously considers what his aptitude is. Hence, he has shown no devotion to, or excellence in, what he is doing. So he wants to quit the job he chose unwillingly, but escaping the shackles is not possible for him. To conclude, choose what you want to do and what you can do well for your future jobs. For this, study hard at least 10 hours a day, as life is short!

 

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