Ellen Bass Writing Styles in And What If I Spoke of Despair

Ellen Bass
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One of the reasons that Bass's poem works so well is her use of powerful imagery that is both positive and negative. The poem begins with a negative image of the effects of despair that cause many to be deafened "by the slosh / of our own blood." The imagery soon turns positive, however, when Bass says "It's beauty" that evokes her despair. At this cue, Bass switches gears and gives the reader several positive images of natural and human beauty. Bass paints natural pictures such as "Rain / pooled on a fallen oak leaf," a sublime September moon, and even the image of her readers in childhood, frolicking at the beach, unaware of anything bad. Because the poet goes to such great lengths to show the good things about nature and humanity, these images give the poem more impact when it turns dark. The images ultimately work as an...

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This section contains 539 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the And What If I Spoke of Despair Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
And What If I Spoke of Despair from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.