And What If I Spoke of Despair Themes

Ellen Bass
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Despair

As the title indicates, the poet is mainly discussing despair, which is a profound and total loss of hope. In the beginning of the poem, Bass describes the physical effects of despair, the sudden rush of blood through a person's veins when they begin to feel this powerful emotion, the way that despair "seizes, / leaving us limp." Following this introduction, Bass gives readers several examples that explain why she is losing hope. She cites several natural items, such as rain, sky, leaves, and sand, drawing the reader into the natural world. She also talks about lost loved ones, or at least the potential for lost loved ones, by invoking a hypothetical "photo / of a lover in his uniform, not yet gone." This draws the reader into the human world. Throughout the poem, Bass warms her readers up to both of these worlds, invoking ideas with which most readers...

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This section contains 761 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.