Nostalgic Memories In Yusef Komunyakaa's Facing It

1505 words - 6 pages

Nostalgic Memories In 'Facing It'
Just as farmers brand their livestock in order to claim them as their own, humans do the same when it comes to important events. There are certain moments in one's life when an incident is so powerful, emotionally or physically, that it leaves a mark on a person forever. The branded symbol that is left could be positive or negative, but there is no doubt that it has caused a wave of all-encompassing feeling. And although when looking back at the past the majority of our memories tend to be viewed with a black and white perception, it is these rare occurrences when a certain event can be so distinct that it is like experiencing it once more. This experience that was once felt with the body and the mind is now felt forever in the heart and soul. The nostalgic memories are not always seen as the positive memories that one wishes to. However, sometimes those are the only ones that you can remember.
Yusef Komunyakaa's poem "Facing It," written about the flooding of vibrant flashbacks of war when a veteran visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site, is a poem which fully incorporates an underlying theme of nostalgia. Equally, in "Ghost of a Ghost," written by Brad Leithauser, a man is distraught over the fact that despite the remembrance of his accident, his family has totally forgotten him and moved on. These poems, which apparently both deal with the issues of death and remembrance, portray a sense of nostalgic value in that one character wants to return to what he once knew, while the other is desperately trying to flee from any memory of his past experience. Mutually, the poems "Facing It" and "Ghost of a Ghost," respectively, deal with the reflection of the past as well as the current damage associated in the remembrance of such distinctive events.
Stylistically, Komunyakaa has written a deeply meaningful poem. His frequent use of techniques such as alliteration and flashback, as well as his overall construction of the poem, easily conveys the anguish and torment that comes along with remembering something that one has tried so hard to forget. Komunyakaa's use of alliteration has helped to slow down time, in a way: Phrases such as "My black face fades" (Line 1) take a longer time to read, and therefore, one has more time to let words sink in. Saying that the character's face is fading not only represents emotion through word choice and diction but it allows certain words to be read with more force, which expresses the author's idea that that word has extreme importance to the overall content and theme of the piece. Komunyakaa also makes clear use of flashback throughout the poem: "I see a booby trap's white flash," "A white vet's image floats closer to me … he's lost his right arm". Literary devices such as this one provides evidence towards the general tone of the poem: a dreary and depressing image of a past incident. The way the poem is constructed is also confirmation...

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