preview

Analysis Of Backyard Blues By Natasha Trethewey

Good Essays
Journeying ‘Home’ The interpretations of what comes after death may vary greatly across literature, but one component remains constant: there will always be movement. In her collection Native Guard, Natasha Trethewey discusses the significance, permanence and meaning of death often. The topic is intimate and personal in her life, and inescapable in the general human experience. Part I of Native Guard hosts many of the most personal poems in the collection, and those very closely related to the death of Trethewey’s mother, and the exit of her mother’s presence from her life. In “Graveyard Blues”, Trethewey examines the definition of “home” as a place of lament, in contrast to the comforting meaning in the epitaph beginning Part I, and the significance…show more content…
This blues poem discusses an incredibly sensitive topic: the death of Trethewey’s mother, who was murdered by her ex-husband when Trethewey was nineteen. Many of her poetry was inspired by the emotions following this event, and recounting memories made thereafter. “Graveyard Blues” details the funeral for Trethewey’s mother, a somber scene. The flowing words and repetition in the poem allow the reader to move quickly, the three-line stanzas grouping together moments. The poem begins with heavy lament, and the immediate movement of the dead away from the living, “Death stops the body’s work, the soul’s a journeyman [author emphasis]” (Tretheway 8, line 6). Like the epitaph from Wayfaring Stranger, Trethewey indicates that the dead depart the world of the living to some place mysterious, undefined. The living remain, and undertake a different journey, “The road going home was pocked with holes,/ That home-going road’s always full of holes” (Trethewey 8, line 10-11). Trethewey indicates that the mourning is incredibly difficult or “full of holes”, as she leaves the funeral and her mother to return home. ‘Home’ in this poem has become indicative of that which is not Trethewey’s mother, or that which is familiar and comfortable, in vast contrast to the definition of home implied in the…show more content…
Part I is particularly anecdotal, with many of the poems relating to the death of Trethewey’s mother. The first part begins with an epitaph from the traditional Wayfaring Stranger, which introduces the movement of the soul after death, and the journey towards the ‘home’ beyond. In “Graveyard Blues”, Trethewey examines the definition of “home” as a place of lament, in contrast to the comforting meaning in the epitaph beginning Part I, and the significance of the soul’s movement after death. The ‘home’ described in the epitaph is a place of comfort and familiarity, where the speaker returns to their mother. In contrast, Trethewey describes the ‘home’ she returns to after her mother’s death as a hollow place, the journey back to which is incredibly
Get Access