Patience Varnum Hardman 1102 30 September 2018 Poetry Essay Dove’s poem
30 September 2018
Dove’s poem, Fifth Grade Autobiography, discusses her wistful childhood by describing the most significant people in her life. Throughout the poem, she begins to recall the nature and impressions of her grandparents and her brother by just observing a picture. She looks at a photograph and remembers how incredible he family is, and how her family plays a major key in her life by using her language and her imagery
In the text, the speaker goes back in time while looking at a photograph of her family and uses imagery to describe what is happening. The speaker illustrates her family at a lake in Michigan. In the first stanza, she looks at her brother “squatting in poison ivy”. Based on the way she uses the word squat, the speaker is poking fun at her brother, because poison ivy leaves people with bruises after touching it. She also talks about the Davy Crockett cap, sitting on his head, “flouncing down the back of his sailor suit”. Based on the way she talks about her brother as a wild boy, with his cap and his outfit, letting the audience know how she sees her brother. In the next stanza, the author talks about her grandparents. Her grandfather “sits to the far right”, smoking a cigarette, but yet she talks about it as if it were a good thing because she “used to wrap it for him every Christmas”. Her grandmother is leaning on the cooler, or chest in this case, and while she does this, the sun shines on her dress “her dress with soft luminous paws”, as if the sun was an animal, embracing her grandmother. The way she talks about the sun embracing her grandmother makes it seem like her grandmother is a friendly woman and her grandfather is
a more tolerant man than other people.
On the last stanza, the speaker fast forward in time to the time she accompanied her grandfather. She envied the fact that her brother was going to horse back ride a horse by himself, but her grandfather calmed her with his scent that smelled of lemons. Even though he is dead, she “still remembers his hands”
While the author reminisces on the memories of the photograph, she uses imagery and diction to communicate how much value her family holds to her. Every small detail she remembers about that photograph made her believe it was the most essential detail for her life altogether.
When I first read the conclusion of the poem I was surprised to see that the author was very direct and straight forward about the passing of her grandfather. I am not sure what it all indicates but I sense that the grandfather passed away shortly after the trip and the last memorable memory the author could think of was the fragrance of lemons from her grandfather. I believe that this poems goal was to show the authors most early memory of her grandfather through the sense of smell, “He smelled of lemons” and touch, “but I remember his hands”
Something else I noticed is that she speaks a lot about her family in this poem. She talks about her brother, her grandmother, and her grandfather. It seem as if she never mentions anything about her parents though. She talks about her significant memories with her family as the uncomplicated ones. I also perceived that she liked to talk about clothing and textures a lot. Whenever she describes her family, she always talks about them with some sort of object. The speaker also talks a lot about body parts. She talks about the hat sitting on top of her brother;s head, her grandmother;s hips protruding, and her grandfathers hands. She seems to personify the parts of their body as if they were not connected to the body.