What is the point of view and who is the speaker in "Where Have You Gone" by Mari Evans?  

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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 The poem "Where Have You Gone" by Mari Evans signifies love gone incredibly amiss.  The point of view is first person narration.  The narrator talks directly to the person who departed. 

Nothing indicates in absolutes the gender of either person in the poem.  I am going to hazard a guess based on two things: the poet and a line in the last stanza of the poem.

Mari Evans, an acclaimed African-American poet, has been married and divorced. Many of her poems are self-described as mirrors of aspects of her life.

In this poem, the vocabulary choices do not seem to indicate either gender; however, the two things that are selected as descriptions of the person point up male characteristics: a crooked smile and the confident walk.  Neither of these qualities appears feminine.  Both would be indicative of a man. If the poet had written: where have you gone with those gorgeous legs and sensual smile. That description denotes a male describing a female who has left him alone.

The second indicator of a feminine speaker comes from the line:

the
rent money
in one pocket and
my heart
in another . . .
 

Women do not usually have pockets in their clothes.  Nor do they usually put things like the rent  there.  A woman might put the money in the cleavage of her breasts. Usually if a woman leaves, she will take her purse because there she keeps all of her important things she might need.

My opinion is that the poem describes a women who has been left with nothing by the man she adored.  This abandonment removed all; now, her world is dark, abandoned and bereft of all that she loved.  Even, her spirit went out the door with him.

Again, this is only an opinion.  Based on the face value of the lines of poetry, the narration is first person point of view.  The most important question in the poem remains unanswered:

why did you leave me
when you took your
laughter
and departed

What a sad poem of unrequited love!

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