Use of Imagery and Figurative Language in “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

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Use of Imagery and Figurative Language in “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

In his poem, “Facing It”, Yusef Komunyakaa describes his ambivalent emotions towards the Vietnam War of which he was a veteran. Reflecting on his experiences, Yusef expresses his conflicting feelings about the Vietnam War and his feelings about how racism has played a part in America’s history. By using visual imagery and metaphoric language throughout the poem, Yusef is able to reflect the sad and confused emotions he felt while visiting the Vietnam memorial. Yusef begins the poem by using visual imagery to describe his face reflecting in the memorial wall. He uses the specific words “black face fades” to tell us a few things (line 1). One thing it tells
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He writes of a white veteran who approaches him while at the wall. With his effort to point out that it was a white veteran shows us that the speaker understands that the war didn’t just effect himself or African Americans, but all that were involved. He then uses some visual imagery to help us envision this white veteran and how he looked at the speaker by saying “his pale eyes/look through mine” (lines 26-27). Then, with the metaphor “I’m a window”, he expresses how, since being at the memorial wall, his self-perception has now lessened even more (line 27). Now he is neither stone nor flesh, but now a window through which this white veteran looks at the wall. He doesn’t even see the speaker, but obviously has his own harsh experiences of the war as he looks through the speaker at the wall. With this visual imagery and metaphoric language the speaker helps us understand how he feels about the war and the affects it’s had on him and all others that were involved. In the middle of the poem, the speaker arrives at the number of casualties from the war. When he reads this number he can’t believe that he is still alive. As he reads down the names he uses the visual imagery and simile to describe how he expected to find his own name in “letters like smoke” (line 16). This helps the reader understand how lucky the speaker felt about somehow escaping the war still alive. As he goes

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