What is the poem "Memory" about and what are the stylistic devices contained in it?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is a dialogue between a woman who is trying to come to grips with a painful breakup and some invisible visitors from the "seventh" dimension, who were once alive but now gained wisdom from death and existence in the "seventh dimension" The other six dimensions are explained in the poems which precede "Memory" in the collection of poems that "Memory is a part of.

The first stanza sets up the problem of the breakup. The second stanza reveals that death does nothing to affect memory and she can remember if she wants. In the third and the fourth stanzas the woman tries to remember the details and emotions of the break-up and asks for "what I can bear to know I felt." But she is rebuffed by one spirit who says "Do you think you can choose?" In other words, you can remember all the details if you want to, but you cannot choose which to remember and which to forget. The woman begins to recall "the cocktail as it smashed/  against the wall there, so close to my eye," but then stops. She cannot face the entire truth so the "full events of that terrible time [dissolve] into the deep hues of dusk". She has decided not to face the memory of what really happened.  

The stylistic elements of the poem include dialogue, rhetorical questions ( "Do you think you can choose"), metaphor ( our memories are . . . a shadow, a  sound, a shred. . ."), alliteration, and enjambment, where the poet continues the thoughts of one stanza into the next.

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Memory

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