(Poetry for Students)

Alegría’s poem, “Accounting,” assembles the major events in the poet’s life. Because these events occur over a wide space of time, they reflect the author at different periods of her life. The young girl who skipped puddles is also the same woman who later grieved at the death of loved ones and who worked so resolutely for her country’s freedom. The poet has not only grown older, she has changed from a child to a woman, from lighthearted play to social activism. In the final lines of the poem, the poet prepares for one last change—her own death. At that hour, she will not cease to be. Like many poets before her, she has seen that she will live on in her work. More than her memories are preserved; she is preserved within the poem’s lines. When she moulds herself into these lines, she follows in the footsteps of poets as great as William Shakespeare, who also recognized in his Sonnet 55 (“Not marble nor the gilded monuments”) that he would live forever in verse.

Alegría’s poem is a testament to her ability to endure and to the power that it takes for anyone to endure tragedy. She was born into a country of conflict. As an infant, Alegría’s father opposed the United States marine occupation of Nicaragua. The family was harassed and even fired upon by armed soldiers. Even though Alegría was only an infant when the family finally fled Nicaragua, she grew up understanding that she was a refugee and an exile from the country of her birth. In lines 16 and 17, the poet poignantly recalls the wait for her country’s liberation to become a reality: “I don’t know how many years / dreaming of my people’s liberation.” The use of “dreaming” signifies the depth of yearning as she endured this long wait. She waited fifty-five years.

Few people think at great depth about the elements that make up their identity. And yet, we are all the composite identity of the important events of our lives. Alegría acknowledges this fact in her poem, “Accounting.” In the opening lines of the poem she reveals her age and that she will list the defining moments of her life, the “few electrical instants” that marked her. These moments that marked her forever are the moments that created the adult who emerged from that moment of happiness in which the child skipped puddles. Alegría’s identity is an accumulated self-awareness that she is the result...

(The entire section is 999 words.)