What are some metaphors in "Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks?

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In Gwendolyn Brooks's 1949 poem "The Children of the Poor," the opening four lines offer both an image an a metaphor . The speaker avers that people who have no children "attain a mail of ice and insolence." The metaphor here is that people without children become...

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In Gwendolyn Brooks's 1949 poem "The Children of the Poor," the opening four lines offer both an image an a metaphor. The speaker avers that people who have no children "attain a mail of ice and insolence." The metaphor here is that people without children become impenetrably cold and rude; they will not pause nor look out for others. This could be because of their own grief, but it is not made clear. "Mail," in this context, metaphorically refers to armor made of small interlocking rings of metal.

The second stanza is an extended metaphor in which the children of the poor exist as half-formed works of art who clamor for the speaker's artistic hand to finish them and bring them to life. The artist laments her inability to do more for them; she lacks the resources, but not the desire, to help them. This is understood through her abundance of "mode, design, [and] device" but her "lack [of] access to [her] proper stone."

In the third stanza, the speaker casts herself as the ersatz spiritual guide that the children of the poor may turn to. She stands ready to make religious verses more reassuring and less terrifying if their faith falters and comfort them, even as she metaphorically holds a "bandage ready for [their] eyes" to hide from their view a devastating truth about their existence.

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