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English 12

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Read the poem “the kiss” below and write a detailed analysis of the poem’s meaning and language.

1.) What is the poem about?
2.) who is speaking in the poem? to whom?
3.) how does the poem convey its message?
a. How does the poem look on the page?
b. How does the poem sound?
-Rhythm and Rhyme

4.) why do you think the poet has written the poem?

5.) what is your personal response to the poem?

the kiss

This is no fairy tale
A boy, three, watches older boys
Six and seven and ten, play ball
And when the white ball rolls to his feet
The child is quick to bend down, pick it up.

Throw it here! The older ones wait,
Watch, let him have this moment,
His small body straining, arm bent back,
all his force focused on this moment
of joining. He grunts
as the ball leaves his small hand
and no matter what the length
or strength of the throw,
the older boys, already aware of their weight
In his eye, call out,
Nice throw man! Good arm!
and the child basks in acceptance
into the brotherhood.

Beside him, his sister, six or seven or ten, taller, closer
had put out only a passive question mark of a hand,
tried to catch the ball
with only the feeblest effort,
then let her baby brother take
pride, throw it back.

A good girl, she has read the invisible words
above playing fields: No Women here.
Without even knowing,
She has swallowed the vinegar of that sign,
her finger pricked by the spinning wheel
of tradition.
Even now, the poison stings her into place.
She stands paralyzed, arms stiffly at her side,
doesn’t yet know the magic of bending, reaching, taking,
has yet to learn to offer herself
to her own awakening kiss.

-Kate Braid

  • English 12 -

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