They Took My Lover's Tallness Off To War Analysis

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Gwendolyn Brooks, a world renowned poet, made it her life’s purpose to create changes in the lives of others. “Born June 7, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas” (Contemporary Authors Online 1) her family moved to Chicago when she was very young. Growing up on the south side, Brooks saw the daily struggles that blacks faced. There was a lot of racial tension building, as many more blacks pushed back against oppression. Brooks was, “Deeply involved with black life, black pain and black spirits” (Lee 2). Throughout her lifetime she was an activist, who worked to promote blacks to study literature by writing poetry. She published many books and wrote countless pieces of poetry discussing issues prejudice that blacks faced.
Brooks began her career as a poet
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The poem begins with the narrator crying in desperation for “happiness” to her mother, “Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?” (1). When asking about happiness, it is commonly questioned as what is happiness, rather than “where” it is. by asking “where is happiness”, the narrator is looking for a place to go. It is inferred that happiness was when she was with the lover, but now that he is gone, the happy place is gone as well. In line 2, the narrator says “They took my lover’s tallness off to war ” (2)as if he had no choice. “Took” implies against one’s will, as in two people were torn apart. Although “tallness” is supposed to give an image to add to the physical attributes of the love, it also contributes to an image of a bond breaking. All this grief that the narrator experiences because of death is only imminent because the narrator has coupled her lover and happiness together. One does not exist without the other, which is a very traditional…show more content…
The narrator is feeling unjustified as it was the lover who turned to death and went off to war when both definitions are combined. The word “coquettish” (10) meaning “like or of the nature of a coquette“(OED) which is “behaving in such a way as to suggest playful sexual attraction; flirtation.” gives readers a better understanding to the lively characteristics of death’s aesthetics. Death’s siren like qualities are the reasons of her grief. The idea that the “arms” (11), either actual human arms that can relay affection through hugging or bear arms used in the war that are “impudent and stange” (10)- unashamed, non-inviting presence are “possessive” (11) and controlling are introduced as a part of deaths complexion. It is then implied that death preys on “hard” men who are either stubborn and tough to break, or have anatomy that is turned on by the thrill death brings. With the lover, no longer attracted to the narrator, there is a feeling of
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