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Review Of" I Knew A Woman"

662 words - 3 pages

At first glance, the poem "I Knew a Woman," presents the reader an innocent view of a man reflecting back on a relationship with a woman. On the surface, the speaker portrays the woman as virtuous and pure. Upon closer examination, the opening stanza reveals what is to follow. The speaker's choice of words in the line "Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one" suggest that the words in the poem as well as the woman will move more ways than one. Sexual suggestions are implied with the use of cleverly crafted metaphors, double meaning, and word repetition. Throughout the poem, the witty use of language and his relationship with the woman bring the speaker a great deal of pleasure.The speaker in the poem is the poet, Theodore Roethke. His subject is the woman in the poem and the time that they ...view middle of the document...

The speaker is expressing the joy that this woman has brought to his life. With the lines "But who would count eternity in days?" and "I measure time by how a body sways," indicates that he cherishs each moment with her. The lines, "She the sickle; I, poor I, the rake," and again, "Coming behind her for pretty sake," indicate that he felt that he was following her lead. She was his teacher, "She taught me to Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand." The speaker feels as though he was a non-essential part of the relationship. He then makes another sexual reference "what prodigious mowing did we make." This statement compliments his personality and seems to bring out the best in him.The clever use of words achieves the speaker's purpose. In the opening stanza, the speaker creates a sense of motion with the use of word repetition four times to set the stage for what is to follow. It is clear from the beginning that the he will be playing with the language and the reader. The words selected by the speaker have a surface meaning. However, when the poem is more closely examined there are clear sexual undertones throughout. Sexual suggestions are seen with the lines "She taught me to Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;" and "Coming behind her for pretty sake." We see it again in line twenty-seven when the speaker mentions, "These old bones live to learn her wanton ways." Although each of these lines has typical dictionary definitions and may be interpreted in other ways, the speaker is using them to indicate that the woman causes sexual excitement.In the poem, "I knew a Woman," The speaker skillfully uses double meaning and repetition to hint at the pleasures he found in sexual relations, as well as the pleasures within the language itself. He puts the writing and her body in motion with his choice of words. In this poem the speaker shows little regard for the expression, say what you mean and mean what you say.

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