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Exploring the Themes and Significance of the Poem "Philadelphia Here I Come" for Leaving Certificate

Updated: Feb 25

1. Introduction to the Poem "Philadelphia Here I Come"

As a Leaving Certificate student, you may be familiar with the concept of change and transition. Whether it's moving on to higher education, starting a new job, or simply entering a new phase of life, change can be both exciting and intimidating.

The poem "Philadelphia Here I Come," written by Irish playwright Brian Friel, captures these feelings of change and transition through the story of a young man leaving his hometown and setting out on a new journey. Through its vivid imagery and powerful language, the poem explores themes of identity, belonging, and the search for purpose.

2. Analysis of the Poem "Philadelphia Here I Come"

So, what is the poem "Philadelphia Here I Come" about, and what themes does it explore? Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Identity: The poem follows the story of a young man named Gar, who is leaving his hometown of Ballybeg to start a new life in Philadelphia. As he prepares to depart, he reflects on his identity and the person he has become. Lines such as "I'm the ghost of all I used to be" and "I'm the dreaming boy you knew" suggest that Gar is struggling to reconcile his past with his present self.

  2. Belonging: The poem also touches on the theme of belonging, as Gar grapples with his feelings of attachment to his hometown and the people he is leaving behind. Lines such as "I'm the boy that used to be me" and "I'm the boy that's leaving now" suggest that Gar is torn between his sense of belonging in Ballybeg and his desire to move on and forge his own path.

  3. The search for purpose: Throughout the poem, Gar grapples with the question of what he wants out of life and what his purpose is. Lines such as "I'm the boy that's looking for hisself" and "I'm the boy that's looking for the world" suggest that Gar is seeking a sense of meaning and direction in his life.

3. The Relevance of "Philadelphia Here I Come" for Leaving Certificate Students

As a Leaving Certificate student, you can relate to the themes and emotions explored in the poem "Philadelphia Here I Come." You may be facing your own changes and transitions as you prepare to move on to higher education or embark on a new journey.

The poem's message of self-discovery and the search for purpose can be particularly relevant as you consider your future goals and plans. So, take a moment to read and reflect on the poem "Philadelphia Here I Come" as you navigate your own changes and transitions. Let its words serve as a source of inspiration and guidance as you embark on your own journey towards success.

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