Lisa's Ritual a Poetry Essay

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Professor Mark Fink
English 1020
September 8, 2009

I. The poem that I chose to write about for my assignment is “Lisa’s Ritual, Age 10"

by Grace Carolyn Bridges. The reason I chose this poem is because as soon as I read it, I

immediately felt drawn to this poem, something that seems important when connecting

with a piece of work. The poem appears to focus on a young girl named Lisa, and her

experience with incest between herself & her father. It touches not only on that

experience, but how it makes this little girl feel, and what she does after each time this

happens to her. Throughout my paper, I hope to analyze the poem, and ultimately gain a

better understanding as to what exactly the author is trying to convey through Lisa’s


II. The first stanza introduces the reader to Lisa. It explains what has happened to

her, and exactly what she does to help rid herself of that experience, in a manner of

speaking. This stanza felt the most significant, because it help set the tone for the poem,

allowing the reader a glimpse into what this young girl is going through. As the reader,

you get a sense that this is not the first time she has gone through this, and almost seems

numb to what has been happening to her. “She doesn’t cry.” (Line 8) stands out here–it

jumps at the reader. It appears to emphasize the point that she is beyond crying, having

gone through this before. It is not merely a sentence in the poem, but a statement, or

declaration. The use of a period at the end of this line only further proves that this is such the case. Also, the girl in the poem isn’t speaking directly to the reader.

Notice that “she” is used when describing certain thoughts like “She runs a hot bath...”

(4), “She doesn’t cry.” (8), “She brushes her teeth...” (10). . The way this poem is phrased

indicates that there is only one person telling a tale here. The reason I feel this is simply

because of how personal the poem is–only someone who experienced this would be able

to speak in the manner that they did, even if they are not referring to themselves as I.

Another point I found interesting in the first stanza is lines 4-7. The line arrangement

starts off like the previous ones, but in line 5 it begins a little farther away than the

previous. It made me feel almost as if the speaker were drifting off a bit, almost becoming

too tired or exhausted from the experience. I found the way the speaker used a simile

“like a red dye leaking from her school dress in the washtub.” (Lines 6-7) interesting. To

be honest, it left a couple different images in my mind. The first is the obvious–the little

girls red dress leaking in the laundry. This is an experience many can relate to.

But the way the speaker says “like red dye leaking...” (6) could symbolize the little girls

innocence being lost.

The second stanza was slightly more difficult to interpret, simply because of the

way the line arrangement was. It felt a little muddled, and that made it hard to follow.

Again, the author uses similes in this stanza; “as teacher’s new chalk...” (14), “white as a

clean bedsheet.” (15). I believe this is because of the speaker’s age, being 10 years old, it

is easier to compare certain things to others that she is familiar with. Teacher’s new

chalk, clean bedsheet, etc are all things a 10 year old would be familiar with, so it would

be easy for them to take parts of this horrific experience & compare it to things that she

knows very well, simply to convey her point. In this stanza, the reader finds the little girl cowering in her room, almost as if it is going to protect her from another attack. “...curls

against it.” (12) is a very vivid image, giving the reader a picture of her holding herself in

this corner, using it’s strong foundation to be backbone, something she lacks when going...
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