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The Relationship Between Form, Context, and Subtext in Poetry

5 pages
1187 words
Vanderbilt University
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Poems vary from one another. While some are purposefully structured to meet the occasion of presentation, others are left to no form, and thus, allow the writer more freedom. Often the type of a poem discloses a lot about it. Such is the case with the sonnet forms of Shakespeares works. The type of a song refers to how the writer structures it. Notably, it is not a requirement that every poem has to have a specific outlook, but either way, a structure is derived from any song. Therefore, in some instances, songs are freestyled to the advantage of the writer. MacNolias story is one of such poems. Jordans writing is open, therefore, unstructured. Derivation of understanding is all dependent on the reader. In going through a composition, readers rely on three aspects: form, context, and subtext to create meaning. However much interpretation may vary, the three essential elements always lead to the creation of sense. Remarkably, MacNolia poems ultimately indicate the relationship between the three.

The form of a poem is essential in its interpretation. Just as Shakespeares pieces are associated with love, other structures such as the haiku and elegy, among others also talk about given elements. Considerably, MacNolias story is written in a freestyle which provides it with a strange and emotional feel. Written about the life of MacNolia which was in no way a very pleasant one, the kind of form chosen is appropriate. One feature of the free verse is the sense of formlessness it gives. The story in disclosure is one such. Formless despite having a form. The subjects life is a success that was in progress, however, it all is short-lived as she is unfairly eliminated from the spelling competition. Further, the use of a free verse creates timelessness. Looking through MacNolias poem, the time of the events is a period when most people prefer not to recall; the racism era. A period when nothing good was happening that one would want to look back to and feel overjoyed.

A poets way of presenting a poem describes a lot about the piece. The first is context, which is conceivable from several factors of the poem. Through an analysis of a poem, the reader is able to identify with the personas views and attitudes towards the subject matter. The first consideration is the writers background which is essential in revealing the background of the subject under study. It also highlights a probable reason for writing. In MacNolias case, the writer Jordan, is also an African American, the group that suffered massive racism then. The point from which he tells the story is from an established understanding. Distinctly, the consideration of the context of this poem provides the emotional resonance behind the story. While providing facts of history, the interiority of one is displayed in the contextual setup of the poem. While Jordan is merely passing a message, his concern is visible throughout the writing.

Another contextual consideration of the poem is the historical context. The story of MacNolia is one that highlights the intensity of racism in the period. People of color were not considered worth any progress. Leave alone the improper dismissal from the competition, African Americans were not allowed to be better. Forces were against them doing better than the whites. It is because of the historical context that the story of MacNolia reaches out the world. Her life was shattered by the one factor of existence then, racism. After the dismissal, she is unable to realize her dreams, and she slumps into being a cleaner at the home of one doctor. Looking at the conditions then, a rough idea of how certain conditions affect the direction our lives take is highlighted. It is that which MacNolias poems are wrestling. In one of the songs, she laments about America's unwillingness to elect people of color to any office, the point when she dares to refer to the case as atomic bombs. While concealing the depth of racism, the poem emphasizes the state of racism them. The example is just but one of the many that context is used to show content.

Subtext refers to the unspoken messages in a text or an apparent meaning of a word not directly said. The reason why subtext is used in a poem is to softly make a point of an otherwise very cruel, or unacceptable condition. Because of the nature of subtext, it does not get known to the user quite as first. It takes time before a reader can identify a subtext. However, the use is often to support the content of the poem. In some cases where the poem already discusses hatred, a subtext that oppositely reveals love is inserted to intensify the disclosure. Hence making it more authentic. MacNolias is a story of sad incidences. The use of subtext to cushion the effect of specific wordings is essential. Not only does this give the reader the ability to follow through the poem, but also minimizes the impact that such statements would have on the readers.

The poem about MacNolias life reveals the use of subtext in many lines. The repetitive use serves as an emphasis on the sad experience MacNolia had. Almost every aspect of her life needs a soft approach. Take the case of how men regarded women; they were the same. None was another than. To a man as long as you were a woman, none of your being mattered. But that is not the way the poem places it; straightforward delivery is avoided to decrease some weight of the matter. The subtext in this instance relatively delivers the content of the song: the relationship between men and women. Further, the repetitive form that is used to address women, a comparison of all available women in MacNolias life that results to no difference emphasizes the kinds of treatment the subject matter receives. In a nutshell, the form of the poem can reveal just as much information about a song just as the subtext does.

A peek into the three aspects as employed in MacNolias poems, and a relationship can be ascertained. Every instance the form is considered, the context is revealed and finally content in concern of the subject matter disclosed. The poem relies on so many kinds of repetitions to pass a message. Noteworthy, the most repeated words to carry more meaning to the subject. Such is the case of the word nemesis. The word appears in a poem to describe Coxs challenge, the word that got her to lose in a competition. The form shows that the word is not quite a favorite. Mentioned in a way that a reader can feel its weight, there is some loathing in MacNolias pronunciation of the word. Considerably, the same word is imagery. The word stands for injustice. The word that was not part of the list was merely inserted so that she could lose. Losing she did, but the subject considers the loss as a proponent of the historical context in which she lived. Racism, as was prevalent then, she suffers the injustice that comes with racism.

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