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The Power of Poetry - Essay Example

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[Name of Student] [Name of Instructor] [Course] [Date] The Power of Poetry in ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ by Adrienne Rich Poetry is perhaps the most special way of using language. Unlike prose, poetry is bound by certain formal considerations – even the most radical of free verse poets, have a ‘method in their madness’, a particular logic to their work that gives the piece a rhythm of its own…
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The Power of Poetry

Download file to see previous pages... To prove the potency of poetry, the poem chosen here is called ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ and it was written by Adrienne Rich. This paper seeks to prove how poetry can be used as a powerful medium to convey much more than pretty verses. Poetry can be a vehicle for social critique, literary expertise and so much more. ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is a relatively short poem of twelve lines that tells the story of the poet’s Aunt, a nervous and diminutive woman who lives in terror of her husband. It has a rhyme scheme of AABB with no variation. This rhyme gives it a very simple, almost childlike quality that belies its serious content. Another great thing about the choice of the structure for this poem is its short length. The brevity of the poem reinforces the tragic brevity of the life of Aunt Jennifer in the poem. Thus, it can already be noted that even the most apparent features of a poem can be of significance and hold more meaning than meets the eye. To move into the poem itself, the first lines are: ‘Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen, / Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.’ The first words echo the title of the poem – again, much like a nursery rhyme does, reinforcing the irony of the childlike style against a grim subject. The lines also introduce the subject of the poem: Aunt Jennifer herself and her ‘tigers’. From the use of the metaphor ‘prance across a screen’, one can hazard a guess that these are either tigers that Aunt Jennifer embroiders or knits. The imagery of ‘bright topaz’ against a ‘world of green’ is very visually evocative and also serves the purpose of setting up a contrast that will tie in with the theme at a later point. The lines following these may come as a bit of a surprise to the reader. After introducing the rather pleasant scene of ‘prancing’ tigers of bright topaz, the poet writes: They do not fear the men beneath the tree; They pace in sleek chivalric certainty (Rich 3-4) This negation of fear does not ‘naturally’ follow a description of something. In usual conversation perhaps, or in prose, one would not jump from describing ‘prancing’ to ‘they do not fear.’ This sort of jump in logic to achieve an end – one that will be cleared by the end of the poem – can only be achieved with such mastery and simplicity in poetry. The lines introduce an element of gender. ‘Men beneath the tree’, given the context of tigers, evokes an image of hunters or hunting – a traditionally male activity. ‘Sleek chivalric certainty’ reinforces this image of hunters in their uniforms and presents a picture of masculinity. The oppression of women in a patriarchal world is the major theme of this poem and it is introduced here. Given this knowledge then, the contrast present in ‘bright topaz’ in ‘a world of green’ can appear to symbolize the visible nature of women in a world of men where they seem to ‘stick out’ and cannot blend in easily. The second paragraph of them poem begins with the identical phrase as the first, ‘Aunt Jennifer’s’ – this is a double reinforcing of the children’s nursery rhyme structure which usually has repetitions of phrases like these: Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool Find even the ivory needle hard to pull. The massive weight of Uncle's wedding ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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