Native American Poetry: Joy Jarjo Essay

Native American Poetry: Joy Jarjo Essay

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Joy Harjo is a Native American poet who uses her heritage as an influence in her writing. She also uses her Native American background to bring awareness to the adversities that they encounter in the society, especially from a feminist point of view. The poem, written in the style of a Native American chant, “She Had Some Horses” gives a voice to a voiceless woman which gives her the opportunity to tell her story and provides her with a sense of worth. In the poem “She Had Some Horses” we can identify various themes throughout the poem that show the influence of her Native American culture and feminist views in her writing.
The poem “She Had Some Horses” describes the metaphorical horses in the speakers life as she struggles with her contradictory feelings. The speaker ultimately wants to achieve a sense of oneness, which the Native American achieved with nature. We see the theme of nature in the poem. The Native Americans were known have pride in one’s tribe, they cared for and respected the land they lived on land which is a characteristic of Native American life. This is evident when Harjo writes,“She had horses who were skins of ocean water/She had horses who were the blue air of the sky” (4-5). Harjo also uses the horse as a metaphor for the struggles that the speaker is experiencing. Considering that the horse was symbolic to the Native Americans, the horse is perceived as a symbol of power, strength and survival. However, as the poem goes on, the speaker views the horse in different forms and sometimes appropriates the horse.
In the first stanza, due to the incorporation of her culture in her writing, the horses are compared through nature, which as stated, plays a significant part in her culture. When Harjo writes, “Sh...


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...-discovery which can help readers to have a better understanding of our purposes in life, along with a better understanding of ourselves. Harjo’s use of her culture and her feminist views ultimately leads to a better understanding of the horses in her life. Although the horses are different and contradict themselves, in the end the speaker loves the horses in her life all the same. Considering that every line in the stanzas begins with,“She had horses . . . ,” reinforces the speaker’s Native American identity, which Harjo wanted to continuously incorporate in her poem. Effectively labeling the horses as both loved and hated, the dichotomy between her emotions and experiences, and her reason for attempting to reconcile them, becomes clear. The speaker's life is made up of the various "horses" in her life and by uniting them, a whole sense of self can be accomplished.

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