Can someone provide an analysis of the poem and the overall theme of Janis Ian's "At Seventeen"? Please use support from the poem.

I leaned the truth at seventeen That love was meant for beauty queens And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles Who married young and then retired The valentines I never knew The Friday night charades of youth Were spent on one more beautiful At seventeen I learned the truth And those of us with ravaged faces Lacking in the social graces Desperately remained at home Inventing lovers on the phone Who called to say, "Come dance with me" And murmured vague obscenities It isn't all it seems at seventeen A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs Whose name I never could pronounce Said, "Pity, please, the ones who serve Cause they only get what they deserve" And the rich relationed hometown queen Marries into what she needs With a guarantee of company And haven for the elderly So remember those who win the game Lose the love they sought to gain In debentures of quality and dubious integrity Their small town eyes will gape at you In dull surprise when payment due Exceeds accounts received at seventeen To those of us who knew the pain Of valentines that never came And those whose names were never called When choosing sides for basketball It was long ago and far away The world was younger than today When dreams were all they gave for free To ugly duckling girls like me We all play the game and when we dare To cheat ourselves at solitaire Inventing lovers on the phone Repenting other lives unknown They call and say, "Come on, dance with me" And murmur vague obscenities At ugly girls like me at seventeen

Expert Answers

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Janis Ian's radio hit was released in the summer of 1975. Ian based the lyrics on a New York Times article she had read about the disillusionment a debutante felt after her ritual entrance into society failed to provide the life she had anticipated.

In the poem's lines, the speaker expresses that she had experienced a sort of epiphany at the age of seventeen. She first recognized a life truth that life is easier for...

(The entire section contains 224 words.)

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