What sense does this imagery appeal to in the poem "The Secretary Chant"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main senses that this poem’s imagery appeal to are sight and hearing.

Imagery refers to the use of figurative language to create pictures, or "images" in the reader's mind.  It appeals to the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

This poem describes a secretary’s life in humorous, vivid detail.  It is full of strong visuals that are hard to forget.

My hips are a desk,  

From my ears hang  

chains of paper clips.  

Rubber bands form my hair.

All of these details describe how a secretary must feel, bombarded by the daily work life. After doing something day in and day out, working in the same place, we start to feel like we are our jobs.  We have become our desk, and the implements of our work.  We are no longer human.

The sensory details of sound are also prevalent.

Press my fingers  
and in my eyes appear  
credit and debit.  
Zing. Tinkle.

We can hear the onomatopoeia in words like “zing” and “tinkle,” words that sound like their name.  This helps us get a full sensory experience, putting sounds to the vivid visuals.

Piercy’s poem reminds us how important it is to be more than our jobs.  We have to be able to get away from the monotony of the day to day and become human again.  Otherwise, we are no better than machines.  The unsettling and humorous nature of these vivid images reminds us of this. 


Read the study guide:
The Secretary Chant

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