'Fury' by Lucille Clifton
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-for Mamaremember this.
she is standing by
glisten like rubies.
her hand is crying.
her hand is clutching
a sheaf of papers.
she gives them up.
jewels into jewels.
her eyes are animals.
each hank of her hair
is a serpent's obedient
she will never recover.
remember. there is nothing
you will not bear
for this woman's sake.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Fury: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
by [Your Name Here], Literary Critic Extraordinaire
Are you ready to dig deep into the powerful and poignant poetry of Lucille Clifton? Strap in, because we're about to explore her 1974 collection, Poetry, Fury.
First, a little background on the author. Lucille Clifton was an African American poet, writer, and educator born in Depew, New York in 1936. Over the course of her career, she published 13 collections of poetry, won numerous awards (including the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000), and served as the Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1985.
Clifton's Poetry, Fury is a collection of 27 poems, each one imbued with her signature blend of raw emotion and unflinching honesty. From the first poem, "a poem beginning with a line by c.p. cavafy," Clifton establishes her voice as one that is unafraid to tackle difficult subjects head-on.
and when they bombed other people’s houses, we protested but not enough, in my heart I guess I thought at least they are bombing some body.
Here, Clifton confronts the reader with the reality of violence and war, and the ways in which we become complicit in it through our inaction. The use of lower-case letters and enjambment creates a sense of urgency and fragmentation, as if the speaker is struggling to get the words out.
Throughout the collection, Clifton continues to explore themes of identity, family, love, and social justice. In "homage to my hips," she celebrates her own body and rejects the patriarchal standards of beauty that seek to diminish women's power.
these hips are free hips. they don't like to be held back. these hips have never been enslaved, they go where they want to go they do what they want to do. these hips are mighty hips. these hips are magic hips.
Again, Clifton's use of repetition and strong imagery creates a sense of empowerment and defiance. This poem is a declaration of self-love and self-acceptance, and a rejection of the societal messages that tell women they must be small and submissive.
Another standout poem in the collection is "jasper texas 1998," which addresses the brutal murder of James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists.
some live by love thy neighbor as thyself, others by first do no harm or take no more than you need. what if the mightiest word is love? love beyond marital, filial, national, love that casts a widening pool of light, love with no need to preempt grievance.
Once again, Clifton confronts the reader with the reality of violence and hatred, but also offers a message of hope and love. The use of rhetorical questions and a philosophical tone creates a sense of urgency and importance.
Overall, Poetry, Fury is a powerful and moving collection that showcases Clifton's talent for blending personal experience with larger social issues. Her poetry is unflinching and honest, and her use of form and imagery is masterful.
If you haven't read Poetry, Fury yet, I highly recommend it. And if you have, I urge you to revisit it and allow yourself to be swept up in Clifton's words once again.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Fury: An Analysis of Lucille Clifton's Classic Poem
Lucille Clifton's "Poetry Fury" is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the creative process. With its vivid imagery and raw emotion, this poem speaks to the heart of every artist who has ever struggled to find their voice.
At its core, "Poetry Fury" is a celebration of the creative spirit. Clifton begins by describing the act of writing as a "fury," a force that consumes her and drives her to create. She writes, "i am a woman / with fury in my blood / and poetry in my bones." This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, establishing the idea that writing is not just a hobby or a pastime, but a fundamental part of who she is.
As the poem progresses, Clifton delves deeper into the creative process, exploring the highs and lows of inspiration. She writes, "sometimes the words / come like a flood / and i am swept away / in a torrent of language." This image of being swept away by a flood of words is a powerful one, evoking the idea that writing can be both exhilarating and overwhelming.
However, Clifton also acknowledges the darker side of the creative process. She writes, "other times / the words are like stones / hard and unyielding / and i must chip away / at them with a chisel." This image of chipping away at hard, unyielding words is a stark contrast to the flood of language she describes earlier in the poem. It speaks to the idea that writing is not always easy, and that sometimes the words simply refuse to come.
Despite these challenges, Clifton remains committed to her craft. She writes, "but i am a woman / with fury in my blood / and i will not be defeated / by a few stubborn words." This determination and resilience is a hallmark of the creative spirit, and it is what sets artists apart from those who simply dabble in creative pursuits.
Throughout the poem, Clifton also touches on the idea of identity and self-expression. She writes, "i write to claim myself / to stake my claim / on this world / to say i am here / and i matter." This idea of using writing as a means of self-expression and self-assertion is a powerful one, and it speaks to the idea that art can be a tool for empowerment and social change.
Finally, Clifton ends the poem on a note of hope and possibility. She writes, "and when the words / finally come together / like pieces of a puzzle / i am whole again." This image of the words coming together like puzzle pieces is a beautiful one, evoking the idea that writing can be a process of discovery and self-realization.
In conclusion, Lucille Clifton's "Poetry Fury" is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the creative process. With its vivid imagery and raw emotion, this poem speaks to the heart of every artist who has ever struggled to find their voice. It is a celebration of the creative spirit, a testament to the power of self-expression, and a reminder that even in the face of adversity, we can always find a way to create.
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