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Poetry Analysis Essays

After reading through all the poems, there was no question about which three I was going to pick. The poem “Punishment” by Lisa Zaran moved me with the first line, “When using, you are not the same”. Growing up in the 70s and being a teenager in the 80s, I have seen firsthand the detrimental effect that substance abuse has on our society. When she continues with next two lines, “That sublimity of an altered state, you are not the same”, I have absolutely no doubt I know what this poem is about.

The lines “I’ll lock all my windows. I’ll bust all the light bulbs. ” means that this person is turning her back on someone. When she finishes with “I won’t recognize your voice calling mother through the door” the word mother sent cold shills down my back. As a mother of two teenagers, if they became substance abusers I really do not know if I would have the power to turn my back on my own children. This was a very emotional poem to me on a very personal level. The poem was very short, but very powerful with so few words.

The second poem I chose “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Path uses both repetition and personification to portray how she waited for a man she loved to return who never did. The repetitive phrase of “(I think I made you up inside my head)” makes me feel that this is to emphasize the fact that she really wishes he was fictional, but in fact he was real. In real life when something bad has happened to me after I sleep when I finally wake up I think to myself “Was that a dream? ” then reality comes back and the pain starts all over.

This is how I can relate to this poem. Sometimes we use denial to deal with pain. When she continues with “I should have loved a Thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again” she personifies the Thunderbird as her lover who could love her and could come back to her. The title in itself carries a lot of meaning. Could this poem by about an angry girl or is it about a love crazy girl? I feel that she gave herself to a man who was never appreciative of her love for him and she never forgot him.

The third and final poem “What’s That Smell in the Kitchen” by Marge Piercy uses both metaphors and symbolism to illustrate her anger with society and her husband. She starts out with “All over America women are burning dinners” which gives the idea that it is not just her, but a more united front. Her images come fast and firm and her verbs are filled with action, such as “spewing out missiles of hot fat” and “presses like a clinker”. She is metaphorically “fed up” with feeling unappreciated describing herself as “cooked and digested”. Burning dinners” to me symbolizes her dissatisfaction of her life as a stay at home wife who feels the pressure to be picture perfect for her husband. She does not hide her anger at all and I feel that her feelings are particularly expressed when she states “once I was roast duct on your platter with parsley but now I am Spam. ” “Burning dinner is not incompetence but war” is how the poem ends with a final bang that says she is not going to take it anymore.

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