Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nineteen by Elizabeth Alexander

The poem I chose to analyze is “Nineteen” by Elizabeth Alexander. In this poem she is speaking of an experience she had when she was nineteen years old. She talked about the things she did and described in detail some of the things that went on while she was in Culpepper. I think she is regretful of those things by the way she described them. In the second stanza she says, “like a fool I’d smile.” I think she chose the word “fool” because she felt as if it was a bad decision on her behalf. Another reason I feel she is regretful of this summer is the image she gives of the man. She says that he smokes marijuana and stole from the campers. This isn’t a good image of him but rather a bad side of the man. If she felt as if she did the right thing by sleeping with this man then she would have portrayed him in a more positive context.

Another thing that can be taken from this poem is that her parents may have been overprotective. The reader may feel this way because she was nineteen years old and it was her first summer away from home. Most parents let their children stay away from home about middle school age. Another piece of evidence that she may have been sheltered was that she became very promiscuous with this married man she met. The man appears to be older because he has already fought in Vietnam, is married, and also has a son. Another thing that gives a clue that he was older is when she said, “I was the baby, drinking rum and Coke.” If her parents were a little more lenient with her she may have not made the decision to sleep around with this older man.

Overall as the author goes from the first stanza to the last stanza she is a little more mature because her stanzas flow better together. In the first stanza she was jumping around from one thought to another. In the second stanza she gets kind of distracted from her main thought but for the most part she stays on topic. Then in last stanza all of her thoughts come together and flow much better than the previous stanzas. The whole poem was written in past tense and she does not have a rhyme scheme. Even though she did not end each line with punctuation, each stanza ended in periods. I think this was done to let the reader know she was completing her thought.

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