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Phantom

Phantom

Handwritten Draft of "Phantom," Before March, 2000

Phantom

Mockup Draft of "Phantom," March, 2000

Phantom

First Pass Draft of "Phantom," March, 2000

     The subject of “Phantom” is right in the title.  By beginning with the line, “It’s the last hour of a final day,” Dunn immediately brings the subject of this poem forefront.  The reader follows the speaker’s thoughts of lofty philosophical ideas juxtaposed with mundane observations of his cat.  The reader can visualize the speaker sitting and reading Hegel while listening to Bob Dylan.  Dunn masterfully utilized the click of the tape deck to portray when one thinks about the final “click” of life.  “The phantom of what it once was,” reiterates the point that as the speaker gets older, he knows his life is closer to ending than beginning.  Living with this truth is like living with a phantom of his old self.       

     The Hofstra University Library's Special Collections' University Archives had the handwritten draft of “Phantom.” This poem appeared in every step of the editing process of Different Hours. There is the most notable difference between the handwritten version and the mock up draft.  The handwritten draft states the word phantom multiple times.  The line, “the phantom of what it one was” also appears much earlier in the handwritten draft.  It looks as if Stephen Dunn transposed the first and second half of the handwritten draft to create the mock up draft.  In the mock up draft, the lost is changed to dreamers in the thirteenth line.  In addition, the twenty-third one is edited completely.  The line changes from “with the remains of fire” to “rising from a stubborn fire.”  Dunn employs personification to underline the human aspect of stubbornness that often comes with age.      

     No other content or form was changed after this mock up draft; however, in the first pass draft with edits, the editor wrote, “Merely ok of an ending, I think  I bet you can come up with something stronger.”  Dunn’s second pass draft still has the same ending, which means he did not agree with his editor’s sentiment.  Perhaps his “phantom” was also being stubborn.