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Commentary on the poem "Owl Song"

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Introduction

OWL SONG This poem was published in 1974 and is about a woman murdered by a man after being raped and mutilated. The main idea of this poem is that society has created an environment in which men are drawn to becoming killers of women because of their objectified and sexualized portrayal. I'll be analyzing it mostly in chronological order but I'll have to jump around from time to time. ?I am the heart of a murdered woman.? This is powerful, attention-grabbing. It gives the reader the expectation that the heart will be victimized. The heart has significance on several levels in this poem. In the first stanza there are four lines in a row which begin with the word ?who?. The word who has onomatopoeia and when spoken resembles the sound of an owl calling for something, or hooting. This is why the poem was titled OWL SONG. I'll come back to this point to further explain. ?She took the wrong way home.? Not she was attacked, not she was killed, she did something wrong. ...read more.

Middle

This places obvious blame on the woman. The chisel creates the imagery of the woman carving something; this means she is taking action and is influencing the situation. The mouth and hands can both be used as sexual devices. This again implies that the woman's death is a result of her own doing for drawing the killer to her. In the next stanza, the woman's heart is in the forest ?talking of death which is monotonous?. This again shows that the woman's plight is not one to be sympathized with. She explains that her dialogue is monotonous because ?though there are many ways of dying there is only on death song, the colour of mist: it says Why Why? there is no punctuation at the end of the stanza; the ?Why Why? gives the impression of one calling out for someone or something unknown. The change in meter uses the pattern of an owl calling through the woods. An owl's hooting is commonly considered to be an expression of loneliness; its meaning is however misunderstood. ...read more.

Conclusion

The man's heart is the heart of a murderer-to-be. He is still innocent and has never contemplated murder before. His lost heart knows that he will become a murderer, but the man himself does not. The next stanza is by far the shortest. This is for the effect of emphasis. This is the first mention of a male in the poem. In the final stanza, the man's heart is explaining how the rapist inside the man will grow. The significance of the final three stanzas is to explain that the woman was violated by a man. It also gives the first clues as to why; this poem has to be read more than once in order to properly be understood, as the stanzas have to be re-ordered to make sense. In conclusion, this poem is about womens' struggle for human dignity. It does so by making a comment on how society affects the portrayal of women to make them sexualized to men. As a result there are cases such as this, in which the woman is violated and killed by a man, and an innocent man becomes a rapist. The fact that iy happens at all is the problem and point of this poem. ...read more.

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