3 Poems by Oscar Penaranda
Analysis of “The Real Math”
The very nature of a man cannot solely be seen through his actions alone or how society perceives him. What makes up the true essence of a person is much deeper and much more complex than this. We can only have an idea of a person’s character based on his actions but this is only just a fraction of who he really is as a person. This is seen through the poem “The Real Math” where the persona and structure of the poem reflect the theme of man’s ambiguous character. The structure reveals ambiguity as the construction of the poem has an effect like that of a riddle. The 1st and 3rd stanza contribute to the overall uncertainty of the poem as the 1st stanza opens with the line “Here’s a clue” and the 3rd stanza challenges its readers to pursue for answers as seen through the line “And gather the answer of who I am”. The persona itself on the other hand, remains anonymous as it has no specific and no definite character. Along with the riddle like structure of the poem, the persona explains how he does not want to be known by his achievements, past, or history but by his character as a person. This is supported by the line “Take nothing before and beyond | obliterate all| and gather the answer of who I am| only at that moment| then you can begin to call me by a name”. This line shows that once the persona’s “history” no longer defines him as a person, then this is the only moment that one can really start to recognize his real character. The persona does not want to be bounded by the fame or recognition of what he has achieved as seen in the last line “…if not let me slide and remain anonymous” because in reality we can never really compute the value and worth of a human being, his achievements cannot really fully define him as a person. In conclusion, the persona and the structure of the poem generally contribute to the overall theme as they support the idea of uncertainty. As the message of the poem revolves...
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