Amiri Baraka

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Student Question

What five literary devices are used in Amiri Baraka's "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note"?

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Baraka uses an ellipsis in the first and fifth stanzas. The ellipsis (. . .) is used to mark the omission of a word or words. It is also used to allow a jump from one statement or topic to another. In the first stanza, the ellipsis might indicate other routine things that the speaker leaves out. The ellipsis then digresses to the conclusion "Things have come to that." 

In the third stanza, the speaker uses anaphora (repetition of a word or phrase) to emphasize how introspective he is on a daily basis. He repeats "And" and "each night." 

In the third stanza, the speaker says he counts the stars. There are too many stars to count. This is an example of hyperbole: an exaggeration. Counting all of the stars, an impossible task, suggests the speaker is trying to do something impossible. Perhaps this is his way of suggesting a search for meaning in the infinite.

The line "Nobody sings anymore" is also hyperbolic. It suggests the speaker notes a loss of joy in the world. Clearly, there are still people who sing. The poet is exaggerating to make a melancholy point. The tone in the poem is introspective and melancholy.

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