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The references are to a “lavender word,” a black soldier, and “an autumn leaf.” The first and third are often indicative of peace, even though a “lavender” word suggests that the speaker might be suggesting that traditional poets are effeminate. The “lavender word for lynch” thus creates a jarring contrast between two traditions. At the end, the visual image of the body in the tree indicates the speaker’s idea that poetry should lead to political action. The specifics of political oppression may have changed since 1962, the year in which “I Know I’m Not Sufficiently Obscure” was published, but social inequality and bigotry persist. Thus, Durem’s speaker mentions “rebellion” twice, with the clear implication that poets should become involved in the battle for social justice.
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