Wasp's Nest

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In The Wasp’s Nest, a free verse poem written by James L. Rosenberg, the speaker witnesses two wasps beginning to make a nest in her mailbox. The speaker however chooses not to kill them, not out of fear, but out of a mutual respect for the time and devotion the wasps take to build their home. This moment encompasses the overall theme concerning the amount of love and dedication it takes for even a venomous wasp to create a “fragile citadel” of love in an “alien and gigantic universe.” “a stranger, building the fragile citadels of love on the edge of danger.” Wasps are normally of a violent nature and carry a negative connotation but Rosenberg does not describe them as sinister. He begins by describing them as “two aerial tigers striped in ebony and gold.” Although tigers can be dangerous, they are not necessarily of sinister intent and they maintain a sort of dangerous beauty. But then Rosenberg starts to humanize the wasps by juxtaposing the building of their “insubstantial and…only home” of “paper and mud” with the savage nature of their hum. Their often aggressive and violent nature turns into “hummed devotions” that neither “the U.S. Mail nor all [of the speaker’s] threats and warnings” deters them. By using this oxymoron—the home that is insubstantial—Rosenberg effectively turns the violent and venomous wasps into something finitely gentle. And despite the inevitable destruction of their nest, the wasps carry on like humans in the face of change. The wasps become human and this is why the speaker can’t bring himself to destroy their nest because if he did, it would be equivalent to someone else destroying the peace of his citadel of love. And so through sympathizing with both the speaker and the wasps, the reader learns to appreciate the time and devotion that even a wasp puts in into making a home. The poem is structured as free verse with no apparent rhyme scheme but it does have a rhythm. The “two aerial tigers” resonated “savagely a-hum” as they...
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