This poem tells the tale of old LeBrun, a man that was rumoured by the townspeople to be a loupgarou. Old women would relax under eaves and gossip about Le Brun, while literally shutting him out of their lives with their closing windows. The prevailing gossip, in this poem, is that he transformed into a hound one night, but was dealt a wound by his own watchman. He then lugged his entrails back to his doorstep, almost dead.
•Lines 1-3: This alliteration gives the reader a visual imagery of the manner in which the gossip about Le Brun spread. A thread is thin and fine and can weave itself in any crevice, sometimes in a very non-linear and sinuous manner. This describes the way in which the gossip spread. It managed to touch the whole village in an almost insidious, and complete, manner. •Line 5: This literary device speaks to the results of the gossip. Le Brun is alienated from the people of the town. Their fascination with him, however, is evident by the fact that they slowly shut their jalousie/windows. The lack of speed implies that they are watching him, while also alienating him. •Lines 17-21: This alliteration highlights the severity of the loupgarou’s injuries. You can almost see and hear the wetness of the blood, as well as see the entrails trailing wet through the use of this device.
The tap-tapping cane is a part of Le Brun’s physical description. He appears to stand out, in terms of his physical appearance, down to the use of his cane.
This statement appears nonsensical at first, but actually makes sense in the long run. The loupgarou is, in fact, a man who is leading a half life as man and beast, so he is not really ‘living’. The fact that he can pass on the ‘gift’ of becoming a werewolf clarifies the fact that Le Brun is actually ‘licensed to sell sick fruit’, or pass on his sick ‘gift’.
The words ‘Christian’ and ‘witches’, placed together, emphasizes the dual nature of the women in the village. They are good Christian women who mean no harm, but their fear of the ‘difference’ that they sense in Le Brun (contributed by his mode of dress), leads them to react in an unchristian manner, like witches, in dealing with him.
* IRONY-It is ironic that Le Brun’s own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
This word emphasizes the strangeness of the story that is circulated about Le Brun.
6.white linen-linen suit, pink glasses, cork hat (and cane)
This outfit would let anyone be seen in a crowd, or other wise. It emphasizes Le Brun’s difference , hence, one of the reasons that he would be the focus of gossip. Imagine an individual dressed in the combination below:
7.Alsatian hound, a slathering lycanthrope
This description of Le Brun displays the distaste that is felt towards him in his animal form.
The mood of the poem is reflective.
The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona appears to be simply recounting a piece of gossip.
The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he could have regular things in life. Things such as a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest level and to travel without harassment. The persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic right to be successful and to rise above societal expectations.
The constant repetition of the phrase ‘I wish’ points to a yearning, a desperation even, for the basic things that life has to offer. The repetition gives credence to the idea that the persona might believe that his wishes are actually dreams that might not come true.
Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery, the state of lacking control over one’s own life and destiny. The fact that reference is made to this hints to how the persona feels about his life. He does not feel as if he has control over it.
Stanza 3, lines 19 to 20, alludes to Paul Robeson, a black intellectual, who attained success despite difficult circumstances. The persona yearns to be like this person. He wants room to stretch intellectually.
Stanza 4, lines 22 to 25, alludes to the klu klux klan. Burning lights refers to the burning of crosses and the pyjamas alludes to their white outfits that look like pyjamas. The persona wants them to leave him alone, find something else to do other than make his life difficult by contributing to his wishes remaining in the realm of the dreams.
IMPORTANT WORDS / PHRASE
3.’not sink to lick boots’
This refers to the concept of being subservient. To have no choice but to kowtow to people in order to get ahead.
4. ‘Inside eye a sun’
This refers to the persona’s mind. He wants to show how intelligent he is without fear. He wants his mind to be a sun. Sun represents brightness and light, that is how he wants his intelligence to shine.
The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about how he is treated and he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that things were different.
The persona in this poem is reflecting on the perfection of the city. He believes that there is nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the morning. Only a dull person would not appreciate such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm of the city.
The persona compares the manner in which the beauty of the morning settles over the city, to that of a garment on a body. This emphasizes the perfection of the beauty of the morning, just as a garment flows smoothly over a body.
Lines 9-10: The sun is referred to as a male who rises sharply and beautifully. This emphasizes the beauty of the city in the morning. The use of this personification also helps the reader to personalize this beauty.
Line 12: Like the sun, the river is personalized as well. This allows the reader to see the river as real, instead of a thing. It comes alive and we can visualize it’s movement, gliding, as beautiful.
Line 13: When some-one is asleep, they are usually peaceful. Therefore, when the persona describes the houses as sleeping, he is emphasizing the peace that exists in the city in the morning. The inhabitants of the houses are asleep, therefore the houses are quiet and peaceful.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
The word fair, in this context, literally means beautiful. The persona is setting the stage for the reader, introducing the fact that the city is beautiful.
This word implies that the city is regal in it’s splendour. Therefore, it is beyond beautiful and has become stately.
This word describes the way in which the sun ascends into the sky. It is stressed that it does so in a beautiful manner.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his thoughts, and reaction to, the city in the morning.
The persona is travelling in a plane, looking down at San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the plane descends. He is saying that this island is the wealthiest in the Caribbean because it has won the jackpot, it has come up lucky. He then points out that he, and others, had travelled to many Caribbean islands and received a hint of the flavour of each island through it’s calling card, – its airport – all of which fail when compared to plush San Juan. As they land, they are instructed to stay on the plane if their destination is not San Juan. The persona takes offence and states that America does not want blacks in San Juan, implying that they might be a disruptive force. He notes the efficiency with which things flow, enabling them to take to the skies once more. During the ascent, the persona notes the contrast between the influences of the Caribbean and America. He likens San-Juan to a broken TV, it looks good on the outside, but broken on the inside.
Line 2: Puerto Rico is compared to dice that is tossed on a casino’s baize, it can either come up with winning numbers, or losing numbers. Puerto Rico comes up with winning numbers in the game of chance, as reflected in its wealthy exterior, which is supported by America.
Lines 7-8: San Juan’s glitter is compared to a maverick’s gold ring. The word maverick implies non-conformist, an individualist. This implies that San Juan, Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean, but not a part of the Caribbean. It belongs to America.
Lines 10-11: Airports are compared to calling cards. This means that, like a calling card, the quality of the airport gives you an idea of the island’s economic status. The airport is also compared to a cultural fingerprint. A fingerprint is an individual thing, therefore the airport gives the traveler an idea of the island’s cultural landscape.
Line 39: The road is compared to twisted wires. This means that the roads, from above, look both plentiful and curvy. This does not carry a positive connotation, but implies confusion.
Line 5: Dallas is an oil rich state in America. Therefore, many of its inhabitants are wealthy, and the state itself, is wealthy. By stating that San Juan is the Dallas of the West Indies, it implies that it is a wealthy island in the West Indies.
Lines 5-7: An allusion is being made to the well known cliche; ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. It means that behind everything that is seemingly bad, there is good. In the context of this poem, it means that the good, the silver lining, has a mark, or stamp, that authenticates its good quality; it is hallmarked. This implies that it will always have its silver lining showing.
Line 20: This statement means the exact opposite of what is stated. The persona is disgusted that Uncle Sam (America) would have such a regulation. This regulation bars anyone from stepping a toe on Puerto Rican soil, if it is not your intended destination. You just have to remain in the air craft, no matter the waiting period, until it is time for takeoff. The persona believes that the Americans are being blatantly discriminatory, and are attempting to camouflage it through the use of regulations. He does not believe that they have achieved their goal of subtlety.
Line 20: The statement, ‘give me your poor…’ is particularly sarcastic because it is a direct quote from the New Collossus, which rests on a plaque on the statue of liberty, and signifies that the disenfranchised of the world are welcome. The persona, as a member of the ‘disenfranchised’ masses, clearly feels unwelcomed.
Line 26: The persona implies that America is all talk and no action. They really do not want the poor because they bar them from entering and expediently sends them on their way when they enter their airport. The statement is sarcastic because it is loaded with an alternate meaning, due to the contrast in statement and action.
Line 17-18: The pun is placed on ‘land of the free’, it becomes ‘Island of the free’. This pun emphasizes how isolated Puerto Rico is from the rest of the Caribbean islands. It belongs to the U.S.A. This state of belonging to, or being owned by the US is asserted through it’s insertion into the Star Spangled Banner.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
This word implies soft, like a teddy bear. It also implies luxury. So San Juan is all of these things.
6.’desperate blacks might re-enslave this Island of the free’
These ‘desperate blacks’ to whom the persona is referring are the poor people of the Caribbean. If they converge on the glistening San Juan, sucking up its resources, then it might become re-enslaved by poverty.
7.’America’s back yard’
A backyard means one of two things for people. It is a haven where you relax, therefore you decorate it and invest time and money in it. Or, you ignore it and spend all your time indoors, not investing any time, energy or money in it. America viewed Puerto Rico as the latter, a prize in which it saw value. Therefore, when the persona uses this phrase, he is implying that while it is valued, it is still at the back. Slight sarcasm is being used here.
8.’the contrasts tantalise’
When something, or someone, is tantalising, it implies that it is intriguing. The persona, by using this phrase, is trying to draw the readers attention to to the jarring contrasts by stating that he finds them intriguing.
The word fierce, used to describe the level of efficiency with which the people worked to get the plane off the ground, shows the extent to which they were not wanted on the island.
This implies that the flashiness of San Juan was not authentic.
11.’It’s sharp and jagged and dangerous, and belonged to some-one else.’
This implies that San Juan is not safe. The cultures are not melding, but jarring against each other. The reason for this is because it belongs to someone else.
The contrast in this poem is found in stanza 5. The American cars etc, against the pushcarts. The American culture versus the Puerto Rican culture.
The mood of the poem is sarcastic.
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter, which is fueled by the sarcastic atmosphere.
A parent is talking to his/her’s son and telling him how things used to be. The parent tells the son that people used to be sincere, but are now superficial and seek only to take from others. The persona tells the child that he/she has learnt to be just like these people, but does not want to be like that anymore. The parent wants to be as sincere as the son.
The people’s eyes are as cold as ice. This means that there is no warmth or real feeling in the words that they say, or how they behave. This metaphor literally allows you to visualize a block of ice, cold and unwelcoming.
Stanza 4, lines 20-21 emphasizes the constant changes in the persona’s face. If you think of how often a woman changes her dress, then that is how often the persona adjusts his/her’s personality to suit an audience. The list of faces that follow this line emphasizes this point.
Stanza 4, lines 23-24 compares people’s faces to smiles in a portrait. If you think about a portrait, it is usually very formal and stiff, even uncomfortable. Therefore, the implication is that the smiles are actually fake and stiff. They are conforming, or trying to fit, to a preconceived mold that is set up by societal expectations.
Stanza 6, lines 38-40 compares the persona’s laugh to a snakes. When you think of a snake, words such as sneaky and deceitful come to mind. Therefore, the implication is that the persona is fake, just like the people he/she despises.
This phrase is repeated at the beginning and the end of the poem. This usually signals the beginning of a fairy tale. Therefore, it is implied that the persona is nostalgic about the past.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
4.’they only laugh with their teeth’
This emphasizes the insincerity of the people around the persona. To laugh with your teeth means that only the bottom half of your face is engaged, the laugh does not reach the eyes.
‘shake hands with their heart’
To shake hands with your heart implies a strong handshake that is sincere, this is the opposite of what now occurs between people.
‘search behind my shadow’
This implies that the person cannot look the persona in the eye, they are looking everywhere but there. Looking someone in the eye during a conversation implies that one is sincerely interested in what you have to say. Not being able to do so implies shiftiness.
‘hands search my empty pockets’
People are only ‘seemingly’ nice to get something from you. So, they smile with you, but it is not sincere, they are seeking to get something from you.
‘unlearn all these muting things’
The word mute means silence, think of what happens when you press the mute button on the TV remote. Therefore, there is an implication that the insincere actions that the persona describes are muting, they block, or silence, good intentions. Hence, the persona wants to ‘unlearn’ these habits.
The mood of the poem is nostalgic. The persona is remembering how things used to be when he was young and innocent, like his son.
The tone of the poem is sad. The poet’s response to his nostalgia is sadness.
Loss of innocence,
Appearance vs reality
* It is IRONIC that the persona is behaving in the exact way that he/she despises. There is an implication that things cannot go back to what he remembers, due to the influence of societal expectations.