The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Blue Dress” consists of six short stanzas of brief lines in free verse. In spite of its brevity and informality, the poem successfully conveys a multitude of feelings. Cisneros looks at a young man’s breakup with his girlfriend, the events precipitating it, and his consequent anxiety and pain. The poet narrates the details of two final visits between the former lovers, suggesting metaphorically the distance and the lack of commonality the young man feels at separating from the woman for whom he had once felt a close bond but who now goes her way alone to wait out the final days of a pregnancy. The speaker of the poem is an observer uninvolved in the actions of the couple, so she identifies with both, understands the dynamics of their relationship, and urges the reader to meditate on the situation. By describing little more about the woman than the blueness of her dress, Cisneros makes her fuse with the horizon. Inherent in this fusion is a sadness about how the events of life have turned.

In the first stanza the focus on the “curve of the belly” is the first clue to the details of the pregnancy that will be alluded to repeatedly. The emphasis is on external details, on objects: the bulging dress, the farewell, and the bouquet, all of which fuse and fade into the background. Nothing is stated directly about facial expressions, about feelings.The inexpensive (and possibly artificial) flowers from the “Five & Ten” (stores such as Woolworth, known for stocking myriad domestic...

(The entire section is 616 words.)