Pawn Shop

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Chu – Hsiang (1904 – 1933)


Beauty runs a pawnshop,
Accepting only the hearts of men.
When the time comes for them to redeem their belongings,
She has already closed the door.

Kai-yu Hsu

World Poetry: An anthology of verse from antiquity to our time: - Katharine Washburn & John S. Major (1998 QBP club)

"The pawnshop" represents many things to me. Perhaps a timeless event such as wanting what one can't have and searching for a way to obtain it, a woman who can lure a man into anything with simple suggestion. On the other hand, the writer could be speaking, in fact, of just a pawnshop. The pawnshop metaphor embraces the reader to interpret their views within the reading of the poem.

"The Pawnshop" is only four lines long, yet speaks not only of a timeless subject but with volumes of feeling. I believe this is one of the best examples of implied metaphor I have come across. With the opening line "Beauty runs a pawnshop," and the last line of the writing "She has already closed the door," makes me believe this can only be about a beautiful woman. The second line also supports this with "Accepting only the hearts of men." Women the historical root of all evil, bringing the purity and strength of man down. Why not imply the beauty and entrapping power of a woman with the dealings of a pawnshop?

A pawnshop offers many people -- mostly men -- with a chance to profit from products that hold past dreams and memories. Most women would not take that option unless their dreams were crushed and the memories haunting. Down and out, for one reason or another, men take chances with their dreams, giving up something in hopes to receive riches of greater value, that one big break. The passing of time takes the toll when collection comes and the doors are closed. Life is short; you can't always get back what you lost or hold onto what you have. The pawnshop is classic of past and present human behavior.

"The Pawnshop," I...
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