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American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help)

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Poem
"for rosa parks"

And how was this soft-voiced woman to know
that this was "No"
in answer to the command to rise
would signal the begining
of the time of walking
Soft the word
like the closing of some aweful book,
a too-long story
with no pauses for reason,
but yes, and ending
and the signal to begin the walking.
But the people had walked before
in yoked formations down to Calabar,
into the belly of the close-ribbed whales,
sealed for seasons
and unloaded to walk again
alongside cane stalks tall as men.
No, walking was not new to them.
Saw a woman tie rags to her feet
running red, burnishing the pavements,
a man with no forty acres
just a mule
riding towards Jerusalem

I think I understand the poem's content but I have problems analyzing poetic techniques and the structure of this poem as well.

What I got out of the poem was:
that I started to think the the structure was AABAA but then after that it didn't go back to the same pattern and I got confused.

In the begining the poem makes references to Rosa Parks herself. Talking about how she was ordered to give up her seat. Then it talks of "the time of walking" which I took to mean that it started the bus boycott and the march on washington eventually.

When they say "soft the word like the closing of some aweful book, a too-long story" I think that they are speaking of the closing they mean the ending of segregation and slavery which lasted for such a long time.

When they say:
But the people had walked before
in yoked formations down to Calabar,
into the belly of the close-ribbed whales,
sealed for seasons
and unloaded to walk again
alongside cane stalks tall as men.

here I looked the place Calabar up on the internet and found it was the place in Africa where they sent the slaves to be shipped out to other countries. I thought that the "belly of the close ribbed whales" was a metaphor for the are of the bottom of the boat where the slaves were kept. (I'm not sure if metaphor is the right word though)

<b.sealed for seasons
and unloaded to walk again
alongside cane stalks tall as men.
No, walking was not new to them.
Saw a woman tie rags to her feet
running red, burnishing the pavements,
a man with no forty acres
just a mule
riding towards Jerusalem
here I think that when the poem says,"sealed for seasons and unloaded to walk again" it refers to the fact that the slaves were unloaded when they got to their destination and also to that they were kept on the ships for long periods of time.

I think my analysis is okay but I need help on whether what I think above is correct and also with the structure of the poem and the poetic techniques used.
some that I came up with:
alliteration: where they say in the first line "..soft-voiced woman to know" (o is repeated) but not sure about what alliteration or assonance is and how I would know if it's occuring.
rhyme: perfect and imperfect rhyme in the poem such as "begining" and "walking" => imperfect rhyme I think
and "know" and "No" since they don't look alike also=>imperfect rhyme

Other than those that I mentioned I need help on the poetic techniques.

Thank you

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    First, let’s go over what you wrote about the content of the poem:
    In the begining the poem makes references to Rosa Parks herself. Talking about how she was ordered to give up her seat. Then it talks of "the time of walking" which I took to mean that it started the bus boycott and the march on washington eventually. This sounds correct – those are clear references to what Mrs. Parks did and what the results of her action were – and many other marches, too. (Be sure, in the explanation you submit to your teacher, that you spell “beginning” correctly (2 n’s) and that you put capitals where they’re needed.)

    When they say "soft the word like the closing of some aweful book, a too-long story" I think that they are speaking of the closing they mean the ending of segregation and slavery which lasted for such a long time. right; and don’t neglect the line that says “with no pauses for reason” – what do you think that is referring to? It’s important!

    When they say:
    But the people had walked before
    in yoked formations down to Calabar,
    into the belly of the close-ribbed whales,
    sealed for seasons
    and unloaded to walk again
    alongside cane stalks tall as men.
    here I looked the place Calabar up on the internet and found it was the place in Africa where they sent the slaves to be shipped out to other countries. I thought that the "belly of the close ribbed whales" was a metaphor for the are of the bottom of the boat where the slaves were kept. (I'm not sure if metaphor is the right word though) Yes, “metaphor” is the right word, and you’ve made the correct interpretations.

    sealed for seasons
    and unloaded to walk again
    alongside cane stalks tall as men.
    No, walking was not new to them.
    Saw a woman tie rags to her feet
    running red, burnishing the pavements,
    a man with no forty acres
    just a mule
    riding towards Jerusalem
    here I think that when the poem says, "sealed for seasons and unloaded to walk again" it refers to the fact that the slaves were unloaded when they got to their destination and also to that they were kept on the ships for long periods of time. What does “sealed for seasons” refer to? And don’t forget the last few lines of this section. Why did the woman tie rags to her feet? What does “running red” mean? What does “burnishing” mean? Who is the man “with no forty acres / just a mule / riding towards Jerusalem”? What are the metaphorical references here?

    I think my analysis is okay but I need help on whether what I think above is correct and also with the structure of the poem and the poetic techniques used.
    some that I came up with:
    alliteration: where they say in the first line "..soft-voiced woman to know" (o is repeated) but not sure about what alliteration or assonance is and how I would know if it's occuring. This is assonance, not alliteration; assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds (like this – the o’s – but alliteration is the repetition of consonants.
    rhyme: perfect and imperfect rhyme in the poem such as "begining" and "walking" => imperfect rhyme I think
    and "know" and "No" since they don't look alike also=>imperfect rhyme
    There is some rhyme going on in here, but there doesn’t seem to be a discernible pattern. I’d be more inclined to call this free verse:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_verse

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    I should add a few ideas, and Ms. Sue may have some additional comments.

    Don't forget to analyze the overall TONE of the poem, as well as doing what you can to identify the speaker.

    Here are some poetry explication (that's what you're doing - explicating) sites that may have some ideas to help, too:

    http://www.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/markport/best/study/poetry.htm
    Especially 5 and 6. There's a sample explication linked at the very bottom of this site.

    http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/ReadingPoetry.html#top

    http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/poetry-explication.html
    See especially The Large Issues, The Details, The Patterns. For example, there are metaphors throughout the poem you're working on; be sure to find and explain them all.

    =)

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    Thanks, Writeacher. You're much more knowledgeable about literature than I am. :-)

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    writeteacher

    “with no pauses for reason” – what do you think that is referring to? It’s important!
    I'm not quite sure but does it mean that they didn't stop to think about the consequences of what would happen if they did march?

    What does “sealed for seasons” refer to? And don’t forget the last few lines of this section. Why did the woman tie rags to her feet? What does “running red” mean? What does “burnishing” mean? Who is the man “with no forty acres / just a mule / riding towards Jerusalem”? What are the metaphorical references here?
    oh oops I thought I analyzed this part but I guess I forgot to post it. Okay, well I thought that sealed for seasons meant that they went and put them in ships for a long time and thus seasons passed. This may be wrong but that was all I could think of. The woman tied rags to her feet because they had no shoes and running red meant that their feet were bleeding. Not sure who the man with 40 acres is but I do know that the man who was riding toward Jeruselum on a mule was a metaphor for Jesus.

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    "with no pauses for reason"
    Slaves were not allowed to "take breaks" for any reason. Sick or well, they had to work. Remember that slaves were not seen as people, but property.

    You're right in your interpretation of "sealed for seasons" - to them in the holds of ships, time must have seemed endless. And the man on a mule to Jerusalem is a metaphor for Jesus, for sure. But you might want to consider why. The slaves were not Christians when they were brought here. How does Jesus figure into the thoughts in this poem?


    "with no 40 acres"
    You might look this one up. In the early days of settling this country, immigrants who came to a new territory were granted a certain amount of land to clear and farm. Clearly, even though the slaves were immigrants of a kind (certainly not by choice), they were not given 40 acres. They were sold to work someone else's acres.



  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    This is assonance, not alliteration; assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds (like this – the o’s – but alliteration is the repetition of consonants.
    okay, I was confused about that

    There is some rhyme going on in here, but there doesn’t seem to be a discernible pattern. I’d be more inclined to call this free verse:
    but do you know where I can find types of poetry forms? My teacher didn't explain any type except for the couplet and ballad stanza

    Don't forget to analyze the overall TONE of the poem, as well as doing what you can to identify the speaker.

    the tone of the poem I can't decide between victory or hope. I can't figure out the speaker...not sure how to determine who that is. Unless if I guess correctly and it's the future generations that look back on the yesterday and are thankful for all that was done and thankful for the suffering that the people of the past had gone through for them.

    Thanks Writeteacher for your help and also for those links =)

  • I forgot the rest of the poem!! - ,

    I can't believe this, the second part was on the next page.

    this is the rest of it, sorry.

    And the children small somnambulists
    moving in the before-day morning.
    And the woman who never raised her voice
    never lowered her eyes
    just kept walking leading us towards sunrise.

    I looked up the word somnambulist and found it meant sleepwalking. I think this refers to the fact that the children of slaves were taken with their parents when they went towards the north and freedom and they went during the night so they walked untill sunrise and since the sun rises in the east then that would be the direction of the north too. And the woman wo leads her child in the poem was determined to get where she was going and determined to persevere and thus, "never lowered her eyes and just kept walking"

    hopefully this is correct.

    Thanks

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    I didn't think the reference to somnambulists had anything to do with the flight to freedom. I thought it was referring to their state of mind as they were marched off to the slave markets (right off the ships) and to the plantations or farms once they had been bought. It was as if they weren't really alive.

    But since it's so late in the poem, I think your interpretation is right. The key phrase that makes it sink in is "towards sunrise" -- a nice metaphor for freedom.

    Here are some more sites that will help you identify different types of poetry:

    Epic poetry:
    http://members.optushome.com.au/kazoom/poetry/epic.html
    There are links to other poetry forms here, too.

    Odes:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ode

    Villanelles:
    http://www.uni.edu/~gotera/CraftOfPoetry/villanelle.html
    (Nightmare, maybe! But beautiful!!)

    Sonnets:
    http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    help?

  • American Lit => Ms.Sue (Poetry analysis help) - ,

    Hold on. I'm back now. I'll post answers to your questions above soon.

    =)

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