Are there any examples of premise, persona, addressee, or enjambment in the poem "Lifeguard" by Claudia Emerson?  

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In her poem, Claudia Emerson adopts a persona, a word taken from the Latin word for "mask."  The poem is written from a first person point of view—the speaker refers to herself with the pronoun "I"—but we should not assume that the speaker is actually the poet.  In general, it can be misleading to think of the speaker of a poem as the poet since a poet may be writing a fiction in order to make a particular point or convey a certain message.  If we assume the poet is the speaker, we may misinterpret or overlook something crucial in the poem.

As far as the poem's addressee, it is somewhat less clear.  The speaker never directly identifies to whom she is speaking, so it could be anyone.  However, we might speculate based on the way she describes herself as a "middle-aged woman who has nothing better / to do than swim laps in the Y's indoor pool / on a late Friday afternoon."  This description, to me, makes it seem as though the speaker is addressing other middle-aged women like herself.  Something about the lifeguard seems more youthful, perhaps in part because lifeguards are typically young and because of her study of her "split-ends, hangnail, wristwatch."  The speaker seems to be making a statement about her own emotional state at this point in her life, versus a younger woman's. This is a statement that might be difficult to understand if one has not experienced it for oneself.

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Claudia Emerson uses enjambment in her poem “The Lifeguard.” Enjambment is a literary technique in which one line runs on into the next without coming to an end. In “Lifeguard” the lines run-on from one stanza to the next. This is a technique an author employs to develop the meter or rhythm of a poem.  As you read “Lifeguard,” you will notice that when you come to the end of a stanza, the line is not complete but carries its thought into the next stanza. The second line of each stanza lacks an end mark such as a period or question mark.

She perches high on the stand, gleaming whistle

               dangling, on her suit a duitiful,

 

faded red cross. Mine her only life

               to guard, she does for a while watch…

 

In addition, in “The Lifeguard,” enjambment is used to add to the visual appearance of the poem. The lines are arranged in a similar pattern throughout. After the first two-line stanza, each subsequent stanza is composed of two lines in which the first line both finishes the prior stanza and begins a new sentence that will run into the next stanza. The reader must carry the thought or idea from one stanza to the next to comprehend the poem.

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