Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Women Gather

The Women Gather

by Nikki Giovanni

The women gather
because it is not unusual
to seek comfort in our hours of stress
a man must be buried

It is not unusual
that the old bury the young
though it is an abomination

It is not strange
that the unwise and the ungentle
carry the banner of humaneness
though it is a castration of the spirit

It no longer shatters the intellect
that those who make war
call themselves diplomats

we are no longer surprised that the
unfaithful pray loudest every sunday
in every church and sometimes
in rooms facing east
though it is a sin and a shame

So how do we judge a man

most of us love from our need to love
not because we find someone deserving
most of us forgive
because we have trespassed
not because we are magnanimous
most of us comfort
because we need comforting

our ancient rituals demand that
we give what we hope to receive

And how do we judge a man

we learn to greet when meeting
to cry when parting
and to soften our words at times of stress

the women gather with cloth and ointment
their busy hands bowing to laws that decree
willows shall stand swaying but unbroken
against even the determined wind of death

we judge a man by his dreams,
not alone his deeds
we judge a man by his intent,
not alone his shortcomings
we judge a man because it is not unusual
to know him through those who love him

the women gather strangers
to each other because
they have loved a man

it is not unusual to sift through ashes
and find an unburnt picture.

I chose this poem because Nikki Giovanni is one of my favorite poets, and to me this is one of her most interesting poems. In this poem she speaks of things that are not unexpected, although you think they would be. She conveys this message with the image of a group of women gathering in the time of sorrow. Not only do her words help to convey this message but the form of the poem does as well. One thing is that when you think of poetry, you suually expect there to be a rhyme scheme, hwoever, in this poem there is no rhyme scheme, but yet it is not strange that there isn't one. In addition to this, she starts the poem of with a pattern of how her stanzas flow. The first four stanzas folloe the patter of there being four lines in one stanza, and then three in the next. In the fifth stanza when she says "we are no longer surprised" the reader is surprised because in this stanza there are five lines, which does not follow the patttern of the first four stanzas.

One of my favorite lines and probably one of the most powerful lines in the poem is "it is not unusual to sift through ashes and find an unburnt picture." I say this because it conveys the message of the whole poem and it is a striking image. Things may not always be what we expect them to be because of how they appear. We can find beautiful things in the most ugly places.

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