Abject In Patience Agbabi's About Face

1329 Words6 Pages

4. Abject in “About Face”
Similarly to the crucial aspects above, the poem “About Face” represents some issues already mentioned. The poem “About Face”, by Patience Agbabi is a poetic depiction of the mythological painting of the goddess of the hunt Diana and a hunter Actaeon.
First of all, the poem has an interesting structure and way of representing and conveying its meaning. It is divided into two stanzas, whereas both are similar in each and every word. The only difference is the punctuation “[look] how your fate reflects itself in water. / Look! How your fate reflects itself in water”, (Agbabi. About Face ll. 14, 15). Due to this style, it is a remarkable work to read since everything is the same yet different.
Furthermore, the first …show more content…

5,6) the issues that have been mentioned above are expressed. Since, especially black women, are considered to be living in the shadow this passage exposes the feelings and representation of black women in society. Their existence in the world which is not considered and respected. Considering especially the fact that the lyrical I is a black maiden, she seeks for recognition and acceptance among the other figures of the poem. Referring to contemporary issues, the lyrical I would be classified as a lower ranked person since she is black and being occupied as a maid, which clearly makes her powerless and voiceless in society.
Also, the fact that the lyrical I craves the gaze of Actaeon, represents the way the black maiden actually is not seen as a full person, she is just a maiden, a slave of the white and fair goddess. Regarding to dynamics of power and gender, white men, as mentioned before, have the most power and therefore are dominant, followed by white women. This issue is also indicated by the craving and want of Actaeon’s validation, therefore a black woman remains unseen, just as a …show more content…

“I want you, Actaeon. I wish I were / shroud white; O that you’d notice [me] and mouth / each monumental curve” (ll. 7-9), it is clarified that a gaze is not enough since Actaeon desires Diana, the maiden want him to actually desire her. Because, although she is black, she is a fairer person than the mistress, because no matter what could happen, the maiden could not punish someone the way a Goddess can do, as described in “[…] she cursed you / for looking. In this pine-sweet grove, you turned from man to horned and dappled stag: sentenced.” (ll. 11,12)
As the second stanza ends, there is a shift of dynamic power. As mentioned before, although the only change is made is a different punctuation, there are a shift and twist. Now the maiden gets back her voice because she is now superior. If Actaeon had looked at her, he would have remained human and no such cruel punishment would have happened.
“Look! How your fate reflects itself in water / from man to horned and dappled stag, sentenced / for looking” (ll. 15,16), especially the exclamation mark creates the idea of the maiden mocking or making fun of Actaeon for not having desiring

Show More
Open Document