What are the literary devices in this poem. What is the versificacion and rythm? You want me white You want me to be the dawnYou want me made of seasprayMade of mother-of-pearlThat I be a lilyChaste above all othersOf tenuous perfumeA blossom closed That not even a moonbeamMight have touched meNor a daisyCall herself my sisterYou want me like snowYou want me whiteYou want me to be the dawn You who had allThe cups before youOf fruit and honeyLips dyed purpleYou who in the banquetCovered in grapevinesLet go of your fleshCelebrating BacchusYou who in the darkGardens of DeceitDressed in redRan towards Destruction You who maintainYour bones intactOnly by some miracleOf which I know notYou ask that I be white(May God forgive you)You ask that I be chaste(May God forgive you)You ask that I be the dawn! Flee towards the forestGo to the mountainsClean your mouthLive in a hutTouch with your handsThe damp earthFeed yourselfWith bitter rootsDrink from the rocksSleep on the frostClean your clothesWith saltpeter and waterTalk with the birdsAnd set sail at dawnAnd when your fleshHas returned to youAnd when you have putInto it the soulThat through the bedroomsBecame entangledThen, good man,Ask that I be whiteAsk that I be like snowAsk that I be chaste  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This poem is free verse , relying on neither rhyme nor meter to give its haunting effects.  The main devices are repetition and syntactic variation.  The rhythms are those of clipped, terse, almost accusatory human speech – not a dialogue, but a rant, an angry tirade to expose a hypocrisy....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

This poem is free verse, relying on neither rhyme nor meter to give its haunting effects.  The main devices are repetition and syntactic variation.  The rhythms are those of clipped, terse, almost accusatory human speech – not a dialogue, but a rant, an angry tirade to expose a hypocrisy. There are two poetic “characters” here, the Narrator and the Listener.  The repeated element is the summary of the Listener’s requirements for the Narrator, all variations of purity and chastity – “white,” “lily,” “snow” – and some subtler ones – seaspray, dawn, etc.  The narrator turns the conceits upon the Listener by enumerating his life experiences – “cups before you,” “celebrating Bacchus,” etc.  She then lists her experiences (steeped in beautiful earth metaphors such as "Drink from the rocks/Sleep on the frost") and challenges the Listener to claim “purity” and “whiteness” after undergoing those same experiences.  The total effect is one of challenging the uneven “standards” for male and female behavior to be considered “pure” or love-worthy – the challenge comes from the Narrator’s crisp, succinct listing of the unevenness.  The reader is reminded of the teenage fear of all boys that their eventual mate will be “tarnished” – this despite the boy’s cavalier attitude about seducing and deflowering his teen female companions.

  In addition to the sexual/romantic subtext, there is a subtler but more lasting allusion to the artistic life – the experiences that make up the poetic temperament.  Can an artist be expected to avoid life’s experiences and still produce good art?

                   

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team