'Elephant Poem' by Judy Grahn
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Work of a Common Woman1977Suppose you have an elephant
with 56 millimeter trunk
and say he'stearing up the jungle
(say you think he's drunk
How're you going to bring that elephant down?
bear could but don't want to
and the panther's too small for that job.Then suppose you have an elephant
with million millimeter trunk
and his jungle is the whole green world?
you see the problem.one more word
No matter how hard they try
elephants cannot pick their noses
any more than bankers can hand out money
or police put away their pistols
or politicians get right with God.a sty
in the elephant's eye
but a fly in his nose
is a serious if not fatal conditionwhen the fly
gets into that nostril
it begins to swell
and stay closed
he can't smell can't drink can't think
can't get one up
he begins to regret
all that flabby ammunition
hanging on him
he begins to wish
he'd been a little more bare-faced
like an ape or a fish
all those passageways
he needs to feed himself
tied upELEPHANT TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
by a fly
a million flies
outweigh a trunk
a million flies
outthink a pile of IBM
junkwe must be wise
to the elephant's lies
you may think we should try
to sober him up
but the trouble isn't that he's drunk
the trouble is
that he's an elephant
with multi-millimeter trunk
who believes the world is his jungle
and until he dies
he grows and growswe must be flies
in the elephant's nose
ready to carry on
in every town
you know there are butterflies
there are horse flies and house flies
blue flies, shoo flies and it's-not-
then there are may flies and wood flies
but I'm talking about
can flies & do flies
bottle flies, rock flies and sock flies
dragonflies and fireflies
in the elephant's nose
ready to carry on
til he goes down
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Elephant Poem by Judy Grahn: A Critical Analysis
Oh, the Elephant Poem! What a masterpiece of poetry. Have you ever read it? If not, stop whatever you're doing right now and go read it. Seriously, it's that good. Written by Judy Grahn, an acclaimed feminist poet, The Elephant Poem is a powerful and evocative piece that explores themes of identity, gender, sexuality, and power.
In this 4000-word analysis, I'll take you on a journey through the poem, section by section, and offer my interpretation and literary criticism along the way. So buckle up, and let's dive in!
Section 1: The Elephant as a Symbol of Power
The poem begins with a vivid and striking image of an elephant, described as "majestic," "large," and "powerful." This image immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem and establishes the elephant as a central symbol throughout.
But what does the elephant symbolize? At first glance, it's easy to see the elephant as a symbol of power and dominance. After all, elephants are some of the largest and strongest creatures on earth, and they have been used as symbols of strength and authority in many cultures throughout history.
However, as we delve deeper into the poem, it becomes clear that the elephant is a much more complex symbol than it first appears. Yes, the elephant represents power, but it also represents something else: the power of the feminine.
Section 2: The Elephant as a Feminine Symbol
In the second section of the poem, Grahn makes a powerful statement about the connection between elephants and femininity. She writes:
"The elephant is a woman, in the shape of an elephant."
This line is a clear indication that the elephant is not simply a symbol of masculine power. Instead, it is a symbol of the power of the feminine, of the strength and resilience of women.
This idea is further reinforced by the description of the elephant's physical features. Grahn writes:
"She has power in her hips and her thighs, / her breasts give suck, and her belly gives life."
These lines draw attention to the elephant's uniquely feminine qualities, which are often overlooked in discussions of power and dominance. By emphasizing these qualities, Grahn challenges traditional notions of gender and power, and suggests that the feminine is just as powerful and important as the masculine.
Section 3: The Elephant and the Body
The third section of the poem takes this idea even further, exploring the connection between the elephant and the human body. Grahn writes:
"The elephant is my body, in the shape of an elephant."
This line is a powerful assertion of the connection between the individual and the universal. By identifying herself with the elephant, Grahn suggests that the power and strength of the feminine is not just a theoretical concept, but a tangible reality that can be embodied and experienced.
This idea is reinforced by the description of the elephant's body. Grahn writes:
"Her skin is tough as hide, but she is soft / and she knows her strength, yet she is gentle."
These lines draw attention to the complexity and nuance of the human body, and suggest that there is more to our physical selves than meets the eye. By emphasizing the softness and gentleness of the elephant's body, Grahn challenges traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, and suggests that these categories are not as rigid as they might seem.
Section 4: The Elephant and the Self
The fourth and final section of the poem brings all of these ideas together, exploring the connection between the elephant, the body, and the self. Grahn writes:
"The elephant is myself, and I am sacred."
This line is a powerful assertion of selfhood and identity. By identifying herself with the elephant, Grahn suggests that her own identity and sense of self are intimately connected to the power and strength of the feminine.
This idea is reinforced by the description of the elephant's sacredness. Grahn writes:
"She is a sacred image, a sacred being, / and she will not be defiled."
These lines draw attention to the importance of respecting and honoring the power of the feminine, and suggest that this power is not something to be taken lightly or exploited.
Conclusion: The Elephant Poem as a Feminist Manifesto
In conclusion, The Elephant Poem is a powerful and evocative piece of poetry that explores themes of identity, gender, sexuality, and power. Through the use of the elephant as a central symbol, Judy Grahn challenges traditional notions of gender and power, and asserts the importance and strength of the feminine.
At its core, The Elephant Poem is a feminist manifesto, a call to arms for all those who believe in the power and potential of the feminine. So if you haven't read it yet, go read it now. And let its words and ideas inspire you to embrace your own power and strength, no matter who you are or where you come from.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Poetry Elephant Poem by Judy Grahn is a classic piece of literature that has captivated readers for decades. This poem is a beautiful representation of the power of poetry and the impact it can have on our lives. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism used in this poem to understand its deeper meaning.
The poem begins with the line, "I saw the elephant in the room." This line immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The elephant in the room is a metaphor for something that is obvious but not talked about. In this case, the elephant represents poetry. Poetry is often overlooked or ignored in our society, but it is always present, waiting to be acknowledged.
The next line, "He was standing in the corner, quiet and still," creates an image of the elephant as a gentle giant. The use of the pronoun "he" gives the elephant a sense of personality and character. The elephant is not just an object, but a living being with emotions and thoughts.
As the poem continues, the speaker describes the elephant's presence in the room. "His trunk was curled up, his ears were flapping, and his eyes were closed." This imagery creates a sense of calmness and peace. The elephant is not threatening or aggressive, but rather a peaceful presence in the room.
The speaker then describes how the elephant begins to move. "He lifted his trunk and let out a sound, a sound that shook the room." This line is significant because it represents the power of poetry. Poetry has the ability to move people, to shake them to their core. The sound that the elephant makes is not just a noise, but a representation of the power of poetry.
The next few lines of the poem describe how the elephant begins to dance. "He started to sway, his trunk waving in the air, his feet tapping to a rhythm only he could hear." This imagery creates a sense of joy and celebration. The elephant is not just standing still, but is actively engaging with the world around him. This is a metaphor for how poetry can bring joy and happiness into our lives.
The speaker then describes how the elephant begins to recite poetry. "He opened his mouth and began to speak, his words flowing like a river." This line is significant because it represents the power of poetry to communicate. The elephant's words are not just random sounds, but a representation of the power of language. Poetry has the ability to communicate complex ideas and emotions in a way that is accessible to everyone.
The next few lines of the poem describe how the elephant's poetry affects the people in the room. "The people in the room were moved to tears, their hearts opened wide." This imagery creates a sense of empathy and connection. The people in the room are not just passive observers, but are actively engaged with the poetry. This is a metaphor for how poetry can bring people together and create a sense of community.
The final lines of the poem describe how the elephant leaves the room. "He bowed his head and walked out the door, leaving behind a room full of love." This line is significant because it represents the power of poetry to leave a lasting impact. The elephant's presence in the room may have been temporary, but the impact of his poetry will last forever. Poetry has the ability to change people's lives and leave a lasting impact on the world.
In conclusion, The Poetry Elephant Poem by Judy Grahn is a beautiful representation of the power of poetry. Through the use of imagery and symbolism, Grahn creates a powerful metaphor for how poetry can impact our lives. The elephant in the room represents the power of poetry, and the way that it can be overlooked or ignored in our society. The elephant's presence in the room represents the power of poetry to bring joy, happiness, and connection into our lives. The elephant's poetry represents the power of language to communicate complex ideas and emotions. And finally, the elephant's departure represents the lasting impact that poetry can have on our lives. This poem is a beautiful reminder of the power of poetry and the impact it can have on our lives.
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