Backyard Blues Poem Analysis

Decent Essays

In Natasha Trethewey’s poetry collection Native Guard, the reader is exposed to the story of Trethewey’s growing up in the southern United States and the tragedy which she encountered during her younger years, in addition to her experiences with prejudice and to issues surrounding prejudice within the society she is living in. Throughout this work, Trethewey often refers to graves and provides compelling imagery regarding the burial of the dead. Within Trethewey’s work, the recurring imagery surrounding graves evolves from the graves simply serving as a personal reminder of the past, to a statement on the collective memory of society and comments on how Trethewey is troubled with what society has forgotten as it signifies a willingness to overlook the dehumanization of a large group of people.
The idea of graves representing memory is introduced in Part I of the collection within the poem “Graveyard Blues”. The final stanza of the poem says, “I wander now among the names of the dead: My mother’s name, stone pillow for my head” (8). First, while the word grave does not appear within this line, it is heavily implied by the speaker using her mother’s name as a stone pillow. The reader can deduce that this line is referring to a gravestone as when one thinks of a gravestone they usually picture an upright slab of rock with the name of the deceased engraved within it, and both of these elements are emphasized within this line. The main way that this line alludes to personal

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