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Southern Mansion: Sounds Of Silence; Living Death

1472 words - 6 pages

Every story, every book, every legend, every belief and every poem have a reason and a background that creates them. Some might be based on historical events, some might be based on every culture´s beliefs, and some others might be based on personal experiences of the authors. When a person writes a literary piece, that person is looking for a way to express her opinion or her feelings about a certain situation. A good example is the poem “Southern Mansion” by Arna Bonptems. The main intention of “Southern Mansion” could have been to complain, or to stand against the discrimination and exploitation of black people throughout history. However, as one starts to read, to avoid thinking about ...view middle of the document...

Having in mind the slavery issue, one can assume that the place is forsaken. The emptiness sensation that comes out with an isolated house allows the possibility of sound produced by the blowing wind through broken windows and open doors. Concerning the element of chains, the tenth line states “Chains of bondmen dragging on the ground” (10). The fact that the mansion could have been a slavery plantation brings the memory of the actual “bondmen” and their chains being dragged across the ground. Such line can also refer to the ghosts of the slaves if the fact that people died in the place is considered once again. This last point is more oriented to the atmosphere created if a person who knows the history visits the mansion described in the poem. In other words, the fear people feel in this kind of places and situations. The final component representing sound in the poem concerns the dry leaf in the thirteenth line, “A dry leaf trembles on the wall” (13). A dry leaf usually makes a sound when making contact with any surface or the wind, thus generating a sense of fear. In this scenario, if still considering the ghosts presence in the isolated house, the sound of a dry leaf would be scaring for a person who is in that place. The three components portrayed before are perfectly placed in a ghostly context to make readers “hear” what is going on through the poem.
Regarding the opposite aspects that make readers to not “hear” anything in the poem, three elements are at work too: poplars, years and the shade. The trees, poplars in this case, increase the creepy atmosphere in the poem; also the line itself is extremely emphatic about stillness, “Poplars are standing there still as death” (1). Pointing out the detail that poplars are trees usually found in cemeteries is necessary since this particular election of the author helps with the spectral environment showed in the poem. Going into the meaning of the quotation above, the trees represent the quietness around the mansion. This representation is based on the words “standing” and “death” because both words imply the lack of activity in the place and the prominent silence around the house. Besides, the possible blowing wind “Through the open door” mentioned in the previous paragraph does not affect the “still” trees. This contradiction suggests a mysterious unearthly coercion that makes trees to remain still in spite of the wind. The second element that supports silence in the poem deals with the next line “The years go back with an iron clank” (11). In this line, there is a personification since years is a measure of time, and there is also an allusion to a mental ability since the only way to go back in time is by using the imagination and one´s memories. These two literary figures help with the factor silence. “Going back” often implies movement, and movement implies sound. However, the years do not really move, and when a person tries to remember or to imagine a situation usually stays silent for...

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