Naomi Shihab Nye

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What are the symbols in the poem " Burning the Old Year," written by Naomi Shihab Nye?

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The poem “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye is symbolic of cleaning out the old, seemly inconsequential things at the end of the year and realizing what is left for the New Year. She writes of bits of paper, lists, and notes that disintegrate into the air as they burn in the fire. This symbolizes the dispensable minutia of life. She says, “So much of any year is flammable,” and “so little is a stone” meaning that it could be any year, not just one, in particular, that is made up of these small things. When she refers to stone, she is using it as a symbol for the things that actually matter or endure from one year to the next such as a birth or a marriage. She goes on to say she starts the New Year with just a few things, the “smallest numbers,” and moves on to the next year with the things that are incomplete “after the blazing dies.” The blazing fire represents a cleansing of sorts, all of the bits are gone, and it is time to move on to another year.

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