Explain the poem "Peso Ancestral" by Alfonsina Storni.
Alfonsina Storni was an Argentine poet. Her poetry was confessional in style, given her poems were written about her own life.
"Peso Ancestral" is a poem which speaks to the traditional passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. The speaker is telling of a time where the speaker was told about the strength of the men in the family. The men of the family did not cry. Men were supposed to be strong--like steel.
The speaker, in the second stanza, recalls a time where a tear had fallen. The tear, instead of following the normal path down the face, ends up in the speaker's mouth. Symbolically, this shows both the weakness of the speaker (allowing a tear to fall) and the strength (swallowing the tear).
The final stanza speaks to the weakness of women. Women cry and cannot stand to bear the poison (metaphorical for the weakness of crying) in their mouth (if the tear is swallowed). At the end of the stanza, the speaker states that the weight of the tear is far too much for the soul (given the tear has been swallowed).
Essentially, the poem is one which denotes the differences between men and women. Women are emotional and weak; men are not emotional and strong. Although both may cry, only the men are able to sustain the poison of the tear once swallowed. Women, on the other hand, cannot bear the tear (whether on the outside or inside).