In a period when much American poetry is condemned as being merely an exercise in solipsistic navel gazing, and when African American poetry more specifically seems to have lapsed into hibernation after the vigorous activity of the Black Arts movement, Rita Dove steps forth with a body of work that resoundingly answers such criticism. Hers is a poetry characterized by discipline and technical proficiency, surprising breadth of reference, a willingness to approach emotionally charged subjects with aesthetic objectivity, and a refusal to define herself only in terms of blackness. She combines a novelist’s eye for action and gesture with the lyric poet’s exalted sense of language. Dove’s distinguishing feature is her ability to...
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Rita Dove Literary Analysis
Rita Dove: Literary Analysis
Rita Dove has written many different kinds of poetry. She also wrote books, short stories plays and all types of literature. This essay will focus on specifics of her writing by analyzing three pieces of poetry that Rita Dove has written. The works we will be looking at are In the Old Neighborhood, My Mother Enters the Work Force, and The Bistro Styx. Through these three works you will see examples of Rita Dove’s use of home in her poetry, her use of figurative devices such as similes and metaphors, and you will see Dove’s view on children coming of age in different ways.
By looking at the poem “In the Old Neighborhood'; we can deduce a number of things from the overall poem. Dove seems to go back in time to view her home as a child from a newly shifting and surreal location. The speakers in Dove’s poems are not usually at ease with their surroundings, and they tend to look upon scenes of home as seen through a distant and dispassionate eye. Dove’s home seems alien to her. Even the flowers are strangers there. Analyzing the poem farther we can see that Dove uses her views on home to further alienate from our familiar picture of that typical suburban home. She seems to be talking about the house in a manner that would indicate it is a photographic negative; this emphasizes race as an alienating factor. Dove’s writing usually charts a sense of displacement and this seems to be the case in “The Old Neighborhood';. In My Mother Enters the Work Force Dove does not use her home theme, but in The Bistro Styx, which is a small excerpt from a works entitled Mother Love, Dove does make references to home. This poem is a recasting of the story of Demeter and Persephone from ancient Greek mythology. In short, Hades kidnaps Persephone from her home, and Demeter, her mother goes insane trying to get her back. Demeter is able to go after Persephone only to find that too late Persephone has already “adapted'; to life in the underworld, and must remain there because she ate the fruit of the dead. Dove’s version is much the same and takes place in Paris. It deals with loss of home and a home coming that was not to be. Many of Rita Dove’s works deal, approach, define, or scrutinize the ideas of home, while they are equally concerned about the impossibility of arriving there,
Like all poets, Rita Dove relies heavily on figurative language to create a vivid and enthralling imaginary world for her audience. As Dove’s poetry is so varied, it is easy to spot any number of types of figurative language she likes to use. After looking through the selections it appears she does not rely heavily on any particular type of figurative language. In the Old Neighborhood makes use of personification and contrasting dark vs. light elements. My Mother...
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