Native American writer Joy Harjo has crafted a poem, “The Dawn Appears with Butterflies,” that is both a song of mourning and a song of joy. This paper analyzes her poem. Discussion
Because the poem is long, it won’t be quoted extensively here, but it is attached at the end of the paper for ease of reference. Instead, the paper will analyze the poetic elements in the work, stanza by stanza. First, because the poem is being read on-line, it’s not possible to say for certain that each stanza is a particular number of lines long. Each of several versions looks different on the screen; that is, there is no pattern to the number of lines in each stanza. However, the stanzas are more like paragraphs in a letter than they are poetic constructions. This is the first stanza, which is quoted in full to give a sense of the entire poem:
You leave before daybreak to prepare your husband's body for burial at dawn. It is one of countless dawns since the first crack of consciousness, each buried in molecular memory, each as distinct as your face in the stew of human faces, your eyes blinking back force in the vortex of loss and heartbreak (Harjo).
This is blank verse at its most abstract. There is no rhyme here, nor is there any attempt to conform to the usual visual pattern of a poem. It is a series of these paragraphs, each building on the previous one until the reader can form a picture of what has happened. Harjo based the poem on an actual occurrence: she went to visit a friend only to find that the friend’s husband had died unexpectedly (Harjo). He had been looking forward to seeing his daughter in the Butterfly Dance, so rather than cancel it, they went ahead, assuming he would want them to do so, and also assuming he would see her dance (Harjo). This is the kernel from which the entire poem grew. The first line is a shock: it informs the reader of the husband’s death in the starkest of terms; the wife has to go and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document