Thursday, May 7, 2015

Analysis of "For a Poet" by Countee Cullen

Poem Found Here: "For a Poet" by Countee Cullen


This poem has so many repeating lines.  The first two lines and the last lines repeat: "I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth, / And laid them away in a box of gold;"  Furthermore the repetition of the same rhyme of -th and -ld words hit hard and are jarring.

For a poet, there's cynicism.

This poem is not the passing of the torch -- those types of gift poems where the speaker writes it like a commencement speech.  Yes, the speaker's dreams are in silk and in a box, but note the separation of the dream into a beautiful containment -- the flow of -th.

      Where long will cling the lips of the moth
      I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
      I hide no hate; I am not even wroth
      Who found the earth's breath so keen and cold,

The following two lines has a nature image of the "lips of the moth,"  but the moth doesn't serve as a beautiful metaphor to coincide with the silken cloth -- rather antagonistically.  Even thought the moth's cocoon is silk, the moth itself is the unpretty byproduct.  "Long" in that line isn't a determinate of time, rather the emotion of want.  It seems (although a bit of a stretch) the moth is burying itself in such beauty.

So much is buried that "I hide no hate;  I am not even wroth / Who found the earth's breath so keen and cold."  Even though the "hate" is not hidden what is hated is hidden; furthermore, anger is hidden against the physical breath that's keen and cold.

So when the lines repeat, "I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth. / And laid them away in a box of gold."  The dreams are protected from the outside reality and metaphors.  They are kept internal, but beautiful.

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