Critical Review: “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie

“This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie is the popular song remembered most likely from elementary school years. From first reading the poem, tons of imagery is identified the narrator has walked through and describing the scenery around him. There are two analysis that can be gathered from this poem.

The first is psychological criticism which Muller and Williams describes as analyzing the imagery of a text through the lens of psychological theory. The choices of what he is describing leads to believe positive attributes to the poem. “As I was walking through the ribbon highway” lets imagine the winding road. Ribbons are associated with gifts and little girl hair ties, both of which are positive. In the line “To The sparkling sands of her diamond deserts” Guthrie uses “sparkling” to add to the imagery of the sand with an upbeat word. Dessert are hot and dry different type of imagery than what Guthrie is using. The term “diamond” is also used to add to the beauty of the desert. What diamond has not been sought for its glamour? If the imagery was the only thing focused on the historical criticism could be missed.

This brings up the second analysis, historical criticism which considers the work as a product of the time in which it was written (Muller and Williams). “In the shadow of the steeple I see my people” in the second to last stanza. The word steeple is not a commonly used word nowadays implying the time this was written. When Guthrie uses “relief office”, another phrase not commonly used, it suggests a hand out.

Because there are many descriptive words throughout the poem psychological criticism can be easily used. The descriptive words also sow a positive spin on what Guthrie says throughout.

Work Cited

Muller, Gilbert H. and John A. Williams. “Reading and Responding to Literature and Film.” ENGL 200: Composition and Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 2-18. Web. 12 August 2011