Literary devices you may not know are in Vanity

Hello again my munchable little fearless eaters. Ok, so today I got a little less than an earful for you all but I must sincerely apologize first for my delay in postage. Lots of stuff went down at home this week … Shit got REAL real. And I’ve been working on a new commandment, just for myself: Thou shalt not infect more than 20 people with thy nasty cold. But now, I’m alright. Along doth we goesth.

Today’s focus is going to be on the literary devices used in Vanity. 

 

But before we get acquainted with the fair idea of what we’ll be tackling today I want to give a big shout out to my fellow blogger and new friend Sampson who runs the blog everydaygladiator.com. Y’all go check him out, he is awesomesauce. Also, tattoo artist and piercing expert FrancoisWSimpson is also here on WordPress @ francoistattoos.com. Give him a visit too. He’s done some great work.

Sad as it may seem, I didn’t have much to work with on this post …

Cuz I needed you do more research and I’m a good blogger who wouldn’t spoon feed you?? Sure, let’s go with that.

Back to the point though, this post will feature personifications, similes, repetitions, parallelism, conflict and imagery used in the poem. Get ready for lots of references.

Personification Sprinkled all over the poetry, personification is one key device used to enhance the feel of the poem – that is, if you felt anything at all. It attributes human qualities to inanimate objects. For instance, the ‘hearts’ and the ‘dead’ in lines one and five of stanza three are perfect examples

What heart will listen to our clamouring?

And

When our Dead come with their Dead

Imagery It’s evident in the poetry that the message is delivered in a very visual way. The words almost immediately get you to visualize what’s being narrated. The ‘large mouths’, ‘tumours’ and ‘signs’ from the ‘dead’ are but a few examples of the use of imagery in Vanity.

‘Which grows in us like a tumour                                                                                                                  

In the black depth of our plaintive throats?’

And

They have left on the earth their cries,                                                                                                          

 In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs.

Those are lines 13-14 and 20-21 from stanzas three and four, respectively.

Conflict is a pervading device in the lineup. The personas are constantly reviewing the rhetoric of the younger generation turning a deaf ear to their pleas and cries. They want to speak. Y’know what? They actually are speaking! But as we all do with movie critics and the terms and conditions on licensed software, the ‘big children’ totally ignore. Yaaay us, right?

Simile. Now this may come as a no-brainer for many but the use of the word like shows that the poem might just have gifted you a free literary device. So enjoy the gift card! Courtesy of stanza 3, line 13.

Parallelism. The big one. Ok I had trouble digesting and regurgitating this for y’all. Even coming to understand it for myself. Parallelism is a literary device that uses successive verbal constructions which correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning, etc. It may also function as a tool for persuasion as well because of the repetition it uses – as stated in literarydevices.net.

Parallelism, I find, after much probing and search and toil is used so much in the poem. Lines 3 and 5 make use of the common word ‘who’ – and the question of who will hear without laughing – while ‘when’ starts lines 15 and 16. They are seen below, respectively:

Who then will hear our voices without laughter,                                                                                

Who indeed will hear our voices without laughter.

*

When our Dead come with their Dead                                                                                                  

When they have spoken to us with their clumsy voices.

Additionally, lines 11 and 12 and the first two lines of the final stanza seem to have an element of parallelism. Consult the ‘sharks’ or your teacher (or your internet service provider) in case of any doubt.

Repetition. Maybe this can also be said of similes. They’re both the no-brainers of the literati world of literary devices . . . excuse me while I regain balance from the discombobulating series of tongue twisters that seem to come from nowhere.

Ok I’m fine now. Back to it!

You know you’re desperate when repetition is one of the devices you have to point out . . . while knowing everyone else shall find and write what looks ( to the teacher ) like the exact same thing . . . If they care enough to mark, of course. So let me just point these out and we can get outta here. Lines 8 and 10, 21 and 24. By the way I hope I didn’t forget to mention this; the first lines of stanzas, one, two and three are repeated in the final stanza and form its bulk.

Alright! Alright!! Alright!!!

That’s done. I can keep fighting off my cold now. Some nice, warm alphabet soup ought to set me right. Until the next time my dear fearless eaters, binge till you drop. Peace out!!

The Themes in Vanity

After all the while of regrouping and reading, we’re back to discussing Vanity again. Yaay! Although that’s all we’ve been looking at and you’re sick of it, you’ll have to suck it up.

Bursting with joy
OK ….Well, whatever.

Cuz we’ll be doing a whole lot more and changing it up over time. Today, the focus is on its themes  of the effects of Karma, failure to appreciate what you have till it’s gone and a few others. The insinuations and connotations are widespread.

The effects of Karma or the guilt it brings is as prominent in the poem as meat in a bowl of chop bar fufu ( puts a reminder in calendar to visit a chop bar later ). The third stanza significantly portrays how the new generation mock and ignore the older generation just as the cycle occurred with their ancestors. The guilt creeps in with the memory of the deceased, as well as the knowledge that the old generation had once turned a deaf ear to their elders’ advice. Karma is also buttressed in the last stanza – and my, my … What a bitch!

And since we did not understand our dead

Since we have never listened to their cries

If we weep, gently, gently

If we cry roughly of our torments

What heart will listen to our clamouring,

What ear to our sobbing hearts?

Uuuum. Ok awkward.

The personas have come to realize that despite their pleas and admonishment, the past has caught up with them. The new generation will learn only when it’s too late, just as it happened in the past where the ‘dead’ were not understood and were never heard.

Another strong theme here is the failure to appreciate what one has until it’s gone. Yes, apparently that overused drivel is here too. Go figure.   The personas had the chance to listen to whatever their elders and ancestors had to say, but the opportunity passed when they died and took their nuggets of wisdom with them. Forever! It seems, in their regret, they took it upon themselves to pass on the information they took for granted as a means to redeem themselves. Ironically, the chance to have the young ones to pay attention and listen to them has long passed as well. This is evident in the sad, opening lines of the poetry – to name a few.

If we tell, gently, gently

All that we shall one day have to tell,

Who then will hear our voices without laughter,

catz
Geez, talk about melancholy and bleak! Next theme, please!!!

The apathy of the modern generation is another resounding theme. As sick as we all get of hearing from old people that we don’t listen, the personas are old people . . . Putting one and two together now? The ‘unworthy Sons’ and ‘big children’ are in no mood to give any flying fucks about what the personas have to offer in terms of wisdom. They’re too busy laughing and poking fun and tormenting them.

In all the stanzas, it is made clear that no one is going to listen to the personas and the children are shoved into the spotlight for the craven, nonchalant, reckless and depraved generation they are, upon whom God shall sick the apocalypse . . . . *sigh. I can’t even.*

AND NOW, THE THEME YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. The abandonment of the old generation by the modern generations. Isn’t that classic? African poets seem to have this superiority complex that translates into their personas giving off elitist know-all-about-my-culture vibes – or is it just me?

Maybe the old generation talked about history, custom, value and culture? Maybe they structured healthy or unhealthy models of life in society, progressive or not?

All in all, time is working fast and hard against them in their bid to reserve their ancestry and that of those before them, before finally meeting their maker. Talk about a late life crisis. The personas are reminded of their dead whose ‘signs’ and legacies are traced in several places and how they made nothing of it. The fear of abandonment is heavy.

They have left on the earth their cries,

In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs

For us, blind deaf and unworthy Sons

Who see nothing of what they have made

In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs.

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They should really lighten up and let go. And they’re old! The stress would be horrible for their wrinkles.

The poetry is quite dark with subject matters of apathy, despair, mockery and neglect. It shouts a message of not abandoning your roots and sticking to your values. A truly touching and – in a sense – poignant work of art, if you may. But that’s that for now. Enjoy your literature and Alphabet soup. And till the next time, keep learning and loving you and being you! Cuz you’re awesome. You already know that, right?

More posts coming soon. Chao Chao!

 

Friendly Tips on Analyzing Literature

Hello hello and hello again all you sexy motherfuckers. This is supposed to be a nice little short so I can be out of your hair till next week, when I’ll go over a long awaited poem.

Back to what I was supposed to be talking about. We’re looking at ways of analyzing literature, namely poetry, in this post. We’ll see a few things that can really make time used in deconstructing and understanding a poem more fruitful with less headaches and anxiety. I’m sure we all know the insanity of understanding what in God’s green earth the poet means by saying “The cow in my heart pumped its milk into my mind”.

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I’m sure we’ve all felt like this at one point or another. Since I’m from the future, let me make the struggle easier for you :-). Read on …

Here are some things that should help you:

  1. Lose the fear blocking your mind, by clearing it out – I’m going to drop a knowledge bomb here. Some studies have shown that students with exams or test anxiety can release stress by writing it down on paper to address what they feel before writing their test. Now, I know it sounds totally foreign and unlike yourself. I’ve actually done this before but not in an exam room because I already dealt with most of my baggage before entering the room – and not as often either or in the exact way described. But if you’ve started work already and half an hour goes by and you find your brain wondering, you may not end up writing much of what’s bothering you. But what’s important is bringing your mind back home to address what’s in front of you and clear out the unnecessary stuff so there’s enough space for the poem. No more fears. Free your mind.
  2. Want to read the poem AKA getting in the mood. Y’know, whatever turns you on. Literaturally 😉                                                                                                               Sorry guys, you’ll have to figure that one out.
  3. Prepare to read the godforsaken poem. Find a nice, quiet or loud spot, or somewhere in between – whatever suits you best. Sit or stand in a way that’s both comfortable and healthy for you and have short 2-5 minute rests after about 10-20 minutes of consistent work. Get your notepad or book or laptop out if you want to write down and record anything you get from the poem and/or anything that intrigues you about it.

Now that you’ve done all that, you can begin reading through, preferably aloud so you can hear yourself. Read through twice or more. Feel free to note stuff down. If you think you need a booster, then find the time later to read aloud to a more adept student or your teacher. Afterwards, start thinking about what the poet is trying to portray. Look at the poem and keep on examining what you believe it’s trying to put across based on what you’ve read. That’s right… Just like that.

Ok that was a nice warm up. Yes, you heard me. Remember though, Literature is your sugar pie honey bunch. Your companion. If you’re going to approach it beefing and hating and reeling, things will only get complicated and ugly cuz y’all don’t wanna sort your asses out.

After you’ve gotten comfortable and managed to do your readings, that’s where more of paper and pen ( or insert fancy technology here ) come in. Sure paper to pen may be old school to some of you. Nevertheless …

WRITE!!!

In your notebook! If you’ve bought a textbook and reading material, don’t be scared to write into it too. It’s your stuff and you know what works for you better than anybody else.374

Like I said, I’d post snippets later this week and I stuck to it. Yaay me! This post is quite short but there will be more in store. So come on by next week, don’t be shy at all. I’ll be here writing and being the awesomesauce alphabet soup I am. There will be more things to learn about analyzing literature later. Information is loading. Until then, get some sleep you knowledge hungry devil, you. 🙂

Bye bye now.

The Legend of the Alphabet Soup

Yaay
The phases of love and torture, all in one study session.

Readers Advisory: Language in these posts may not be typically PG 13 so if you’re controversial and righteousness conscious, get the frog out!! Enjoy the post otherwise!! ;-P

Let me tell you how this blog was born and explain myself for the uncomfortably long space of time in which I refused to post anything. Getting it out always made more sense to me. Alright, let the legend begin!!!

“The internet is for porn!” a wise muppet once said – or a wierd, pervy scriptwriter ( can’t really tell at this point ) – and true to those words ( some, at least ) every teenager in their socially perceived and sometimes self-repressive minds would enjoy Youtube or porn or other kinds of things we do online for fun. I know I would. Then I sat down to think about my experiences and aspirations and career. Literature was my subject of study back in senior high. It was glorious … ( Insert googly eyes here ). Yes, I was knees deep in the Literature nerdpocalypse and I gave no flying fucks about it. But I noticed one thing that irked me through my experience.

Spark notes and Wikipedia and other web pages catered to deconstructing and evaluating the written word in line with some of what our syllabi demanded from us. Few webpages by African bloggers ever analyzed African prose, poetry and drama in standards that were barely on par with the competition. I was a bit sad that we couldn’t generate enough national and continental buzz through a followership on blogs that catered to students’ needs – and there was a total lack of interest in aiding those struggling with the ever changing, ever demanding shitstorm we call WASSCE, and the scourge that is its syllabus. We’d been beat out of our own market. Hell, we didn’t even have one!

And I couldn’t take that. I wanted to make a difference. The truth is, many teens caught up in our West African Education System love this subject, but intimidating teachers, stifled emotions and daunting perspective would only make parental dismissiveness, teasing and dissing from peers and trailing grades a bigger cross to bear. I once had an E in Literature when I was in second year (good for me, right? People have had it so much worse). My Dad was furious though and he really let me have it. My Mom was in shock. I switched from my science course that I began upon admission to senior high at the end of the second term for first year – dodged that bullet – so they were probably expecting more fabulous grades as I climbed the academic ladder. Not so. Not every time, at least.

Nevertheless, I fucked over everything that everyone else was saying about me and listened to my heart – the cheesiest regurgitation ever uttered by man … But true for me!!!

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Yeah. Fuck roadblocks and obstacles. And bears too.

I kept chasing success in the subject I loved because I was good and I knew it! I was going to respect my wishes in order to accomplish what was valuable to me. Trust me, I was good – despite my fair share of fluctuating grades.

So after years of toil, studying and being faithful and thorough in my subject of study, I had an A in the WASSCE exams. So it is possible, very much so, to succeed. Additionally, what gave me conviction for setting up this blog was that I was good at helping out a number of people with studying and I wanted to personalize the studying experience and make it more inviting, accessible and welcoming for students. I wanted whoever had an interest in Literature to grab it by the horns and ride it to the finish. It was a fun journey for me and a good choice. I have no regrets about any of it.

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#EMPOWERINGSELFIEMOMENT

And there you have it. The Legend of the Alphabet Soup ( stands over a cliff, wearing a cape that blows in the wind ). Also, I wasn’t actively blogging because I was doing a lot of soul searching and all that. Finding myself and figuring out my writing and my life. But now, I’m back baby (Austin Powers kissy face).

So without further ado, welcome to the world of stories, power and imagination, deep intellect and powerful messages. We’ve been expecting you and I reassure you, if this is the place you want to be and you are solid on what you want … You. Will. Thrive!!!

I’ll be posting snippets here and there every week. Feel free to leave a comment or send an email. And remember, you have within you the power to love and become who you truly are and evolve into who you want to become. Bye bye.

Birago Diop – Vanity (An Analysis)

 Another day, another opportunity to look for information because we’re all too confused to do it ourselves.

The poem opens with an air of pessimism and the reality that no one is listening to their (the persona’s) complaints. Instead,  they are being laughed at and mocked. They cannot be taken seriously.

After reading the first stanza, it becomes clearer that a group of people are narrating the events in the poem and their plight is made in vanity, hence the symbolic title that shouts some strong themes in this literature.

The second stanza draws attention to horrible events that began at the start of the personas’ story and the nonchalance and ridicule of ‘big children’ toward such tales. The tone here has become more sour and brooding, implying there might be serious consequences for disregarding the mistakes of the past.

In stanza three, no one will listen to their noisy protests, their clamoring. No ears will listen to the sickening anger and frustration that grows deep within their ‘plaintive’ (sad) thoughts. The frustration has grown and so has the futility of their message. And for good reason.

When our Dead come with their Dead

When they have spoken to us with their clumsy voices;

Just as our ears were deaf

The Dead must refer to the generation that has recently passed away and the ancestors. The people mourning and wailing – just as the children do now – once turned a deaf ear to what their parents and ancestors spoke. Now, the sad realization of Karma and fear of repetition of past mistakes darkens their hope.

The fourth stanza continues the lament of the mature and elderly in society who address the locations where those before them lost their lives

In the air, on the water, where they traced their signs.

They continue by stating that they are ‘blind, deaf and unworthy Sons’ like the current generation of ‘big children’ who see no significance, whatsoever, in the places where the elderly say their ancestors traced their signs and left their mark in history.

The fifth stanza brings the plaintive curtain down on the poem, summarizing it this way :

Since we didn’t take our ancestors seriously or care to understand the dead, and we didn’t listen to their cries and warnings, no one will listen to ours either. What goes around comes back around. We will die, be forgotten and our memories will be ridiculed as well.

Hope this post helped. Feel free to drop more insight in the comments or put up some questions on my Facebook page about this poem.

Leave suggestions in there as well for more WASSCE Literature. Thanks. And I will keep you posted.