Summary OfDear Matafele Peinam Poem

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The poem “Dear Matafele Peinam” by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is a tremendously moving poem about climate change. To begin, two of the main symbols of this poem are the lagoon and hands. Firstly, the lagoon symbolizes what the world could look like if people do not change. It shows the negative aspects of the world, and it also highlights the direction Earth is going. This symbol can be interpreted from the quote “men say that one day / that lagoon will devour you” (10-11). This implies that scientists are claiming that the Earth is headed in the wrong direction, and change is necessary before Earth devours its residents. Next, hands symbolize collaboration and change. Whenever hands were mentioned, it was always associated with change. A few examples are “hands reaching out / fists raising up” (62-63) and “marching with signs / hand in hand / chanting for change NOW” (80-82). These are powerful statements about rallies and statements about change. The hands are symbols of how the only way to save the planet for the future generations is to collaborate and work together to achieve a common goal.
Furthermore, this poem heavily uses a mixture of literal and figurative imagery. One of my favourite examples of imagery in this poem was “hands reaching out / fists raising up / banners unfurling / megaphones booming” (Jetñil-Kijiner 62-65). This quote allows the reader to imagine the protests and the movements that people are trying to do in order to save the planet. That was a case of extremely powerful and inspiring literal imagery as it shows people’s fight for change. This is an example of people who are fighting to save the planet for not only the current generation but for future generations as well. There are also several examples of figurative imagery, the most prominent is personification. An example of personification is “they say [the lagoon] will gnaw at the shoreline / chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees / gulp down rows of your seawalls / and crunch your island’s shattered bones” (12-15). In this example, it is talking about the repercussions of climate change and what the future will look like if people do not change. The use of personification helps the reader understand the awful things that can

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