This girlchild was born as usual
And presented dolls that did pee-pee
And miniature GE stoves and irons
And wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.
She was healthy, tested intelligent,
Possessed strong arms and back,
Abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.
She was advised to play coy,
Exhorted to come on hearty,
Exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
Like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
And offered them up.
In the casket displayed on satin she lay
With the undertaker’s cosmetics painted on,
A turned-up putty nose,
Dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn’t she look pretty? Everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.
Robert Frost beautifully said that “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat”. In fact, poems are all about expressing deep secretly kept feelings through the handling of language. Poetry is a shareable and universal language of specific states of heart to which any reader can identify himself/herself. It is the voice which says the truth. Quite often, delicate subjects lead to sensitive poem like the one of Marge Piercy that we are now going to scan. In the following stanzas, the poetess portrays the hard life of an innocent girl, victim of the society criteria.
The poem has been shaped according to three leading themes: innocence, persecution and death, as we will now see.
First of all, if we closely look at the first stanza, the most important one, the innocence of childhood is being depicted through the musicality of the verses. There is an assonance in “i” which sounds like a childish voice (world of innocence) and an alliteration in “s” which insists on the smoothness of this universe. Meanwhile, we will notice that the poetess does know the little girl as she uses the definite pronoun “This” (verse 1). She describes her as being innocent, naïve and passive as shown by the passive form: “was born; was presented” (verses 1-2). During her childhood, everything seems to go on quite well: she plays with girl games like “dolls; GE stoves; lipsticks” (v.1-4) and she is living a “magic puberty” (v.5)....
... middle of paper ...
...urity and innocence coming out of her since the very beginning of the poem but tarnished by the bullies. The verse 23 is then of a tremendous importance as “everyone” is looking at her to see if she finally suits the physical standards of beauty in death. “Putty” (v.21) and “consummation at last” (v.24) echo and highlight the falsity of her surrounding and the importance given to the ‘façade’. Maybe she is cutter in death because of this “putty nose” created thanks surgery. We may wonder if the poetess shares the beliefs of these foolish people. According to the two last verses we can clearly see that she does not. There is irony in her words as a “happy ending” is only possible when fulfilling the consumer society’s criteria instead of founding one’s real identity.
If sharing feelings is one of the aims of a poem, opening the reader’s eyes can be another one. Through this poem, Marge Piercy has succeeded to take life by the throat, to capture the real essence of it. The expression of deep feelings has become possible for both the reader and the poetess, who shares her grief and anger against the devastating stereotypes of the consumer society.
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