The french word “sous-entendu,” which is also the title of Anne Stevenson’s poem, has two meanings. According to the translation website I used, as a noun “sous-entendu” means an allusion, as a verb it means understood. I absolutely love how Stevenson titled this poem with a word that has more than one meaning! The poem itself, as any girl knows, speaks volumes of truth.

“Don’t think

that I don’t know

that as you talk to me

the hand of your mind

is inconspicuously

taking off my stocking”

Every female knows what it feels like to have a man look at you with those eyes. Eyes that look you up and down as if you are something to be purchased at a grocery store. It really isn’t a pleasant feeling, it’s almost demeaning, as if women are nothing more than something to be bought. The title of this poem is brilliant, really. The title as a noun, an allusion, referring to men thinking they can get away with checking a woman out without directly putting their hands all over her. The title as a verb, understood, referring to the woman knowing exactly what the man is doing without him having to put his hands on her.However, the tone of the poem reminded me of a woman shaking her finger at a young boy in manner such as “don’t you dare even think about it, I know exactly what you’re trying to do!” If only it were that easy in real life! The fact that this poem is within the Gender portion of Chapter 14 makes perfect sense. This poem truly reveals human behavior towards gender differences from the viewpoint of a woman. Oddly enough, this poem seriously reminded me of Britney Spears’ song “Womanizer.” In the song, Britney sings about how she knows exactly the kind of man Stevenson is talking about in her poem and how she won’t be falling for that nonsense. (unfortunately, she really needs to learn how to take her own advice… but that is besides the point…)

I Shall Paint My Nails Red…. Because I Can Do Whatever I want!

Red – the symbol of strong, powerful emotions and feelings. Red evokes feelings of passion, aggression, love, lust, and hatred. Carole Satyamurti’s poem “I Shall Paint My Nails Red” conveyed a tone of self-confidence and an “I’ll do whatever the heck I want so deal with it” attitude. I loved the speaker in this poem, she is so strong, so individualistic, yet not rude, all at the same time. Every line of poetry is a distinct statement filled with self expression. It is almost as if she’s begging the reader to question her, trying to make the reader tell her she can’t do something and in return she’ll prove us all wrong. One of my favorite lines was “Because I am proud of my hands.” Red nail polish is quite flashy and easily noticeable on the hands of anyone and will definitely draw attention. Being proud of hands shows confidence and self esteem in my opinion, and if living a satisfying life, who wouldn’t be proud of the hands that provide? Another line that I found interesting was “Because my daughter will say ugh.” That actually made me laugh since my mother paints her nails red all the time and my brother always disdainfully asks if she thinks she’s a waitress. However, I was surprised in the fact that she was a mother. At first I had imagined a young woman, but the fact that she is a mother makes this woman all that more interesting. The only line that tripped me up was the last one, “Because it is reversible.” There can be several meanings behind this last statement – ever changing personality? Knows she can always start something new? Afraid of permanence? Yet since she came across so strong to me in the previous lines, I’d like to think she is trying to tell the world that now she wants to paint her nails red, but if she wants to paint them purple, green, or orange tomorrow… well she’ll just do whatever she wants and no one will be able to stand in her way.

Counting the Slow Heart Beats

It takes a very good poem to keep me interested and intrigued after 20 lines. Usually while reading long poems, I become distracted and my mind wanders, making me have to go back to the previous stanza and reread it with intense concentration. However, with Robert Graves’ “Counting the Beats,” I found myself reading it over and over again – not because my mind was distracted and elsewhere, but because I truly loved the poem. “Counting the Beats” deserves to be read in a specific way… a slow, methodical way – the way in which a heart beats. This is a true love poem. Not a cheesy, cliche poem like Robert Burns’ “Oh, my love is like a red, red rose.” No, “Counting the Beats” is a real love poem. For some reason I imagined two lovers lying in the middle of a field on a cloudless day talking about forever and what might come or become between them. I envisioned the man speaking first,

“You, love, and I,

(He whispers) you and I,

And if no more than only you and I

What care you or I?”

I honestly think that’s a perfect description of real love. Nothing matters between lovers except the other person. Who cares about the rest of the world and what may happen when I have you? However, they aren’t naive in thinking the world will never end or that things will always be perfect as evidenced by “yet the huge storm will burst upon their heads one day / From a bitter sky.” But this isn’t enough to make them worry, they are living in the moment, only worrying about here and now – cherishing every moment spent together on a cloudless day.

“Not there but here,

(He whispers) only here,

As we are, here, together, now and here,

Always you and I.”

So they lay there, enjoying a beautiful day, enjoying each other with no worry of the future or the past- true love. It’s as if they wish to be there, together, forever. Wanting to be no where else with no one else, perfectly happy with

“Counting the beats

Counting hte slow heart beats,

The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,

Wakeful they lie”

…without a care in the world. I added a song with the sound of hearts beating in the beginning, it’s a classical piece by Utada Hairku that I’ve heard before that was in the back of my mind while reading… sorry about the added sound effects, I couldn’t find the original piece on youtube. It has a fantastic effect if you play the song while reading the poem. 

Rock, Paper, Scissors…. shoot

Although I had originally thought I was going to do my blog post on the interesting poem Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, “We real Cool,” as I kept reading Chapter 9, I came across David Mason’s “Song of the Powers” and thought it was such a clever poem. Although I must admit I may not truly grasp it’s meaning, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  The imagery of the game rock, paper, scissors immediately came to mind through glancing at the first verse of the three first stanzas, “Mine, said the stone,” “Mine, said the paper,” “Mine, said the scissors,” which led me to believe that this poem was certainly about comparing and contrasting the “Powers” of each component in what is usually considered a children’s game. The rock, called a stone in the poem, has power of strength. The paper has power through words, and the scissors have the power to destroy anything the paper creates. However, the poem ends in a confusingly somber tone. It seem as though Mason tries to describe the circle of powers that all inevitably end up in loneliness.

“As stone cruhes scissors,

as paper snuffs stone

and scissors cut paper,

all end alone.

So heap up your paper

and scissor your wishes

and uproot the stone

from the top of the hill.

They all end alone

as you will, you will.:

What?! The first three verses – completely understandable… it’s the last seven that have me completely befuddled. I’ve tried thinking about all the possibilities of how the poem came to such a conclusion, but I still don’t know if I’m understanding the meaning. So far I understand that in all cases of power, there is always something or someone who is stronger than you, and something that is stronger than what is stronger than them. Also, in all cases there is always something weaker than you and weaker than the ones that are weaker than you… but how does that add up to ending alone? Furthermore, the last two verses are just seriously depressing… “They all end alone / as you will, you will” …I’m going to end alone!? I would love to truly understand the deeper meaning of the poem, but for now as I continue to ponder the truth and the hidden meaning, I will still enjoy the fact that I can read and reread the poem trying to figure it out.


The Ballad (more like tragedy) of Birmingham

In 1963, the 16th street baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. The “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall retells the tragic story of that day in 1963 according to a mother and her daughter. The ballad begins with the daughter asking her mother if she can go with the other children to march in the Freedom March on the streets of Birmingham. However, her mother, fearful for her daughter’s safety, tells her daughter

“No, baby, no, you may not go,

For the dogs are fierce and wild,

And clubs and hoses, guns and jails

Aren’t good for a little child.”

It’s completely understandable for the daughter to want to go to a freedom march “to make our country free” yet like any good mother, this woman refuses to let her daughter be placed in harms way. However, knowing her daughter is anxious to do something, the mother tells her child “you may go to the church instead / And sing in the children’s choir.” The ballad then proceeds with the story, telling of how the mother helped her daughter get ready, and the lightening of spirits the mother feels knowing her daughter will be safe in a church instead of marching the dangerous streets. Unfortunately, this ballad doesn’t have a happy ending. The story turns when the mother

“… heard the explosion,

Her eyes grew wet and wild,

She raced through the streets of Birmingham

Calling for her child.”

The explosion the mother heard was the one that blew up the church, the church her daughter was supposed to be safe in. This ballad is every parents’ nightmare… shouldn’t a church be a safe house? What if she had let her daughter march instead? Would she have been safer there? Who blows up a church!? The worst part about this ballad is the fact that it’s a real story.

Burns like a red, red rose

Throughout the entirety of Chapter 6, the authors of our class text book went on and on about figures of speech. For every simile the line

“Oh, my love is like a red, red rose”

was used again and again as an example. For a while, I just thought that was an example the authors had made up on their own and decided to use. It wasn’t until the very last poem that I finally got to read Robert Burn’s “Oh, my love is like a red, red rose.” The poem, although kind of cliche, was very pretty. Aren’t these the words every person supposedly wants to hear from the one they love? (The one exception being Rihanna, who just “Love[s] the way you lie,” but I personally think she’s on her own there…) Most everyone that I have talked to about significant others would swoon at hearing

“So fair art thou, my bonny lass,

So deep in love am I;

And I will love thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry”

from the one they love. And even though the poem may be considered a bit cliche for our time (come on, it was written in 1788…), I’m sure no one would complain if they were the “fair, bonny lass” that the author is speaking of. The lines that spoke most of true love to me were in the third stanza,

“And I will love thee still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.”

Who doesn’t want the assurance that even as they age, even when they aren’t in their prime anymore, they will still be loved as much as when they were younger and more beautiful? Don’t you want a love that eternally Burns like a red, red rose? (pun extremely intended).😉

(Self) Embrace ??

The poem title “Embrace” by Billy Collins is quite misleading. I started off thinking this poem was going to be about a warm embrace between two people who were happy to see each other – wrong. Instead, Collins speaks of a “parlor trick” that every kid has done once in their life. The trick where you

“Wrap your arms around your own body

and from the back it looks like

someone is embracing you”

However, the poem reaches a deeper meaning than just a silly trick kids play on each other. In the second stanza, the author starts up with,

“From the front it’s another story.

You never looked so alone”

showing that this isn’t a poem addressing a real embrace, but a false one. It is actually quite sad if you think about it. The person who is self-embracing may be able to fool others, make others believe that he is loved, wanted, needed; yet, he quite frankly isn’t. The embrace is a lie, just a show to make everyone think this person has something most people yearn for – love. But in the end it doesn’t matter what others think, does it? This person lives his life to make everyone watching envious… is he crazy? Collins certainly alludes to his “screwy” mental state.

“You could be waiting for a tailor

to fit you for a straitjacket,

one that would hold you really tight.”

Out of every moral-of-the-story that’s possible to gain from this poem, I grabbed “Live life as if no one is watching.” It doesn’t matter what others think of your life because it is YOUR life, not anyone else’s. But then again, there is always the alternative to this option… just live your entire life pleasing others, living a lie. Which one will you choose?