Who is the speaker in the poem "Gold and Black"?

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The speaker in "Gold and Black" might seem to be Michael Ondaajte himself, but he is in fact a persona or character in the poem.

The speaker is a person who in the first stanza is tormented by a nightmare in which "gold and black slashed bees come pluck my head away." The speaker's brain is left exposed, "stark as a liver," while the bees "walk" over his body.

In the second stanza, the speaker awakens and turns to a lover named Kim, finding a relationship with her that can overcome the implicit sense of isolation in the dream. However, as we learn in stanza 3, "love, the real, terrifies the dreamer."

Here, in stanza 3, the role of speaker shifts to third person, universalizing the idea that "love, the real" can be as terrifying in its own way as the speaker's nightmare. Real love can leave a person as exposed and vulnerable as one with a brain open to bees. During the course of this poem, the speaker moves from the first-person immediacy of a person experiencing a nightmare to a more distant commentator.

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