The Secretary Chant

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  • Topic: Mind, Office, Woman
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  • Published : February 28, 2013
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Poetry Analysis #4 – 2/15/13
Title: The Secretary Chant
Author: Marge Piercy, 1973

“The Secretary Chant,” by Marge Piercy is about a female creating a vision of how she has lost her personal identity to her job. She uses metaphors to allow the reader to envision a woman who is living her life through her career. Piercy also uses paradox, personification, and the pun to bring the character alive. With the use of metaphors, both implied and explicit, the reader can deeply empathize the central character of this poem. The tone is set from the first line of the poem. It is so vague as to use a simple simile, but a strong manifestation of the idea of the speaker is an actual personification of a material object. She does not say, “My hips are like a desk,” but says, “My hips are a desk.” Throughout the rest of the poem, personification of the women as nothing more than a piece of office equipment is expressed with striking realism. In the first six lines of the poem , the speaker describes herself in much detail. Each of her body parts are places with an obvious piece of office equipment. This allows the reader to form a picture of a woman sitting at her desk performing the daily work of a secretary. She does not see herself as a real woman whose hair is “rubber bands,” whose “breast are wells of a mimeograph ink,” and whose “feet bear casters.” The secretary is so entrenched in her job that she describes her "head as a badly organized file." To further describe how badly organized the file of her head is (or her mind) , Piercy repeats that fact in line 9 and 10 by saying "My head is a switchboard / where crossed lines crackle". With the use of two lines both describing the mind and thoughts of the secretary it is successfully conveyed that the secretary really is confused and overburdened by the demands of the job.
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