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What are the literary devices in this poem? You want me white You want me to be the...

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marine20 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:14 AM via web

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What are the literary devices in this poem?

You want me white

You want me to be the dawn
You want me made of seaspray
Made of mother-of-pearl
That I be a lily
Chaste above all others
Of tenuous perfume
A blossom closed

That not even a moonbeam
Might have touched me
Nor a daisy
Call herself my sister
You want me like snow
You want me white
You want me to be the dawn

You who had all
The cups before you
Of fruit and honey
Lips dyed purple
You who in the banquet
Covered in grapevines
Let go of your flesh
Celebrating Bacchus
You who in the dark
Gardens of Deceit
Dressed in red
Ran towards Destruction

You who maintain
Your bones intact
Only by some miracle
Of which I know not
You ask that I be white
(May God forgive you)
You ask that I be chaste
(May God forgive you)
You ask that I be the dawn!

Flee towards the forest
Go to the mountains
Clean your mouth
Live in a hut
Touch with your hands
The damp earth
Feed yourself
With bitter roots
Drink from the rocks
Sleep on the frost
Clean your clothes
With saltpeter and water
Talk with the birds
And set sail at dawn
And when your flesh
Has returned to you
And when you have put
Into it the soul
That through the bedrooms
Became entangled
Then, good man,
Ask that I be white
Ask that I be like snow
Ask that I be chaste

2 Answers | Add Yours

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 17, 2011 at 8:51 AM (Answer #1)

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The poem being examined is called "You Want Me To Be White." It was written by Alfonsina Storni.

The poem, over all, makes many different comparisons between what the speaker states another wishes her to be. A metaphor offers a comparison between two, normally, dissimilar things. Therefore, the metaphors which exist as between the speaker and the following: mother of pearl, a lily, and perfume.

The poem also contains similes. Similes are comparisons between two things using "like" or "as." Therefore, the speaker is compared to the following things using like or as: dawn.

Another literary device used in the poem is personification. Personification is the giving of human characteristics to nonliving/ non-human things. In the poem, the following lines exemplifies personification:

Not one daisy

Should have called me sister.

Here, the daisy is given the capability to call the speaker sister.

A hyperbole is used in the following line:

Made toasts with your flesh to Bacchus.

A hyperbole is where a poet uses over-exaggeration to make a statement.  This is never meant to be taken literally. Here, in the example above, the person to whom the speaker is talking does not really make toasts with Bacchus (the Roman God of Wine).

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c-rubio | Teacher | eNoter

Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:20 AM (Answer #2)

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Anything that is preeced by like is a simile: "You want me like snow".

 

The rhyme seems to vary, so I'd say is scarce.

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