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And What If I Spoke of Despair Study Guide & Plot Summary

Ellen Bass
This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of And What If I Spoke of Despair.
This section contains 1,367 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our And What If I Spoke of Despair Study Guide

Poem Summary

Lines 1-6

"And What If I Spoke of Despair" begins with the titular question: "And what if I spoke of despair— who doesn't / feel it?" Immediately, readers are engaged, because the poet is implying that everybody, including her readers, feels despair. In the second through sixth lines, she uses a long sentence to go into more detail about the physical effects of despair on people. The poet uses the phrase "Who doesn't know the way it seizes," to underscore her belief that everybody feels despair at some point or another. Likewise, by noting the blood sloshing through "our" veins, she attributes the rush of blood—the physical side effect of an increased heart rate, one of the side effects of many powerful emotions such as fear or despair—to the community at large. At the same time, the poet is careful to note that, while everybody feels despair...

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This section contains 1,367 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our And What If I Spoke of Despair Study Guide
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And What If I Spoke of Despair from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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