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Clifton Poem

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Poetry response 1, “It was a Dream”

In Lucille Clifton’s poem, “It was a Dream”, she confronts a seemingly omnipresent question within every human's life, “What If”. What if I had attempted this? What if I had gone there? What if I tried harder here? Clifton initiates the phrase “My greater self” to guide the reader to see the inner conflict present within her life. The author writes the first three lines to delve into the confrontation between the reality of her existence and the expectations that she longed for, “in which my greater self rose up before me accusing me of my life”.

Clifton writes of a character where ,within “her dream”, she interrogates the choices and decisions made within her own life. These accusations are made evident to the reader through the visual imagery within these lines, “accusing me of my life with her extra finger whirling in a gyre of rage at what my days had come to”. Clifton intentionally incorporates the phrase “extra finger” to persuade the reader to visualize the scolding that occurs within her spirit. By using diction like “gyre of rage”, the intensity of the poem is made evident. The author continues to use strong diction, as well as visual imagery in the next lines: “she twisted her wild hair and sparked her wild eyes and screamed as long as i could hear her”. Through the use of words such as, “Twisted”, “wild”, “sparked”, “screamed”, the reader can thoroughly examine the tense yet energetic tone of the poem.

Clifton ignores to capitalize throughout the entirety of the poem, with the exception of the last line: “This. This. This.”. By capitalizing “This”, Clifton presents to the reader the continual repetition of internal scolding within the character. It illuminates the list of things that the character wished she could have done.



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