"Who Makes the Journey" Analysis

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Cathy Song, an Asian-American poet who grew up in Hawaii, wrote, “Who Makes the Journey.” She has gotten several awards, such as the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and Song the Shelley Memorial Award, in her career. Cathy Song’s poems have been filled with imagery and tone that have left readers awestruck. “Who Makes the Journey” is about growing old and growing up too fast. In the poem, the reader is taken to through an elderly woman’s life through a third person’s perspective. In the first stanza of “Who Makes the Journey,” Song introduces the life of a widow and a widower in a sad, soft tone. “In most cases, it is the old woman who makes the journey; the old man having had the sense to stay put and die at home” (Song, 1-6). This describes how women are the ones to move forward with their lives, while men are the ones that tend reminisce on old things, or in other cases, to die before their wives. This sets a remorseful, reminiscent tone for the poem. The tone she has created helps one understand the sadness that comes with aging and the desire to go back in time. In stanza two, the Azores and the Orient are mentioned: “She comes from the Azores and she comes from the Orient. It makes no difference” (Song, 10-11). This suggests that she is a woman of many places, and she has seen many things, and she has been many places in her lifetime. This combination sets an almost empathetic tone, making the reader respect the wisdom and experiences of the old woman. In the third and fourth stanzas, imagery is introduced. “The short substantial legs buckle under the weight of the ghost child she carried centuries ago like a bundle of rags” (Song, 14-19). The “ghost child” in this passage refers to an old memory she has been carrying around inside of her. By using a simile, comparing the old woman to a bundle of rags, suggests that the old lady has perhaps been haunted or held down by this old memory, speeding up the inevitable process of time and aging.

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