Joy Harjo's Poem 'A Map To The Next World'

1138 Words5 Pages
It Was Never About the Map For many years now, extremist conspirators have believed that the world is going to end, and everyone will perish. However, one poet has a more positive outlook, “A Map to the Next World” by Joy Harjo illustrates the fall of man and the birth of a better world. Symbolism about ancient civilization, modern day society, and her hopes for the future in her poem are used to emphasize that humanity should work towards a restored future. Harjo keeps referring to a map in her poem, but a map was not meant for the creator of that map to use. Maps are created for others to follow, usually to a goal that is desired. She starts the poem by saying “In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for/ those who…show more content…
She is saying at the end of the primitive world she wanted to be a guide for those in the future, to make a reference point for them to follow. Her tools were “the desires of humans as they emerged/ from the killing fields, from the bedrooms and the kitchens” (Harjo 3-4). All three locations are symbolic for various places of corruption. Killing fields represent war, a struggle for control and power. It represents the greed; the only reason war breaks out is due to some type of power struggle. Bedrooms are representative of laziness, they are a place for sleeping and are associated with not wanting to do anything. Not many activities can be done in the kitchen, it’s sole purpose is a place to make and eat food, thus it is representative of gluttony. Yet another human quality that is viewed as unideal. She continues to describe what is on the map, “In the legend are instructions on the language of the land, how it/ was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it” (8-9).…show more content…
Modern society who build “supermarkets and malls the/ altars of money” (Harjo 10-11). That is to say, humanity has strayed to material needs and desires, over appreciating the natural world. There is no denying that society has been evolving for hundreds of years, the question is whether it has been in a positive of negative direction. Technological advancements and scientific discoveries have been the framework for modern society, and with those advancements come problems. One example of new found problems with society are in the lines “Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; the fog steals our/ children while we sleep” (Harjo 12-13). The fog is a symbol for corruption of the future generation. While “we”, the adults, are sleeping, meaning being unaware and ignorant of what’s happening; the children are getting corrupted by the fog of social media and peer pressure. Fog is used to represent corruption because people get lost and disoriented in heavy fog and it is often portrayed as an ominous entity in film making and narratives. This all leads back to the main point of the world becoming corrupt and needing to be led into the next era; to do this, mapmakers have to step up and guide humanity. Another example of the corruption of modern society is the line “Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us, leav-/ing a trial of paper diapers, needles, and wasted blood” (Harjo 22-23). Paper diapers are
Open Document