Agha Shahid Ali

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What literary devices are used in "The Dacca Gauzes"?

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In "The Dacca Gauzes," Agha Shadhid Ali uses literary devices like metaphor, quotation, personification, and contrast to enhance his poem.

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In "The Dacca Gauzes," Agha Shadhid Ali uses several different literary devices that make the poem more interesting an appealing. First, Ali uses metaphor when he speaks of the Dacca gauzes as "woven air, running / water, evening dew." These are beautiful comparisons that help us understand a bit about the texture and sheen, the fineness and beauty of the gauzes. Ali returns to metaphor again at the end of the poem when he explains how his grandmother felt "that same texture again" one fall morning when "the air / was dew-starched," and she could pull it "through her ring" as she had once pulled the gauzes.

Ali also includes a quotation in his poem. He allows his grandmother to witness firsthand how "No one / now knows ... what it was to wear / or touch that cloth." His grandmother does know these things, so she can speak of them authoritatively, and that authority is emphasized by the quotation.

The poet also provides personification when he speaks of the "dead art" of weaving these gauzes. He returns to metaphor when he tells how "the hands / of weavers were amputated," for this is likely not literal but rather an expression of how the weavers no longer were able to work their art, for their raw materials were shipped off to Britain. They might as well have had no hands for all the good their looms, which were silenced (a hint of personification again), would do them.

Finally, the poet uses contrast when he relates how his grandmother says that today's muslins are "so coarse" compared to the Dacca gauzes that she has only felt the smoothness of those earlier fabrics in the autumn air.

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