The Caged Beast: An Interpretation of Anger by Linda Pastan
Many poets compare animals to feelings or objects (whether tangible or intangible), because it is easy for a person to comprehend what an author is actually feeling through everyday comparisons to animals (i.e a lion symbolizes pride or courage). For example: In the poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider” by author Walt Whitman, he compares his soul to the spider, “ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the / spheres that connect them...”. Linda Pastan uses this animal-to-feeling metaphor in her poem “Anger” by comparing her anger to a common household pet, a dog.
Many images come to my mind when I read this poem on a literal level. A lot of them are actually more personal than not. I have gone through many therapy sessions throughout my childhood and then more throughout my teenage years, having a bottled up (or as Pastan says “caged up”) anger inside of me constantly, trying to find a way to finally release it without hurting others or myself. So in a sense, this poem “hits it home” with me. My first thought was that she was actually talking to herself, like having a fight in her own mind about either letting her anger loose or keeping it in. I then thought since the first lines of the actual poem are “You tell me / That it's alright...” it sounds as if she is talking to a second person, actually having a conversation, or argument, with them. However after reading it through a few more times, I began to think that it was both of these, both an internal and external struggle going. Throughout the whole poem, she explains this whole ugly, detestable, belligerent thing that she seems to be frustrated to be holding on to it. I believe that the actual argument reaches its climax when she insults the second person saying,” Ah, you think you know so much / you whose anger is a pet dog / its canines dull with disuse.” , and it reaches its end when she finally decides, although frustrated with it, to...
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