Alice Walker has modeled the main character in this poem after herself. The poem depicts the inner dissatisfaction, which seems to be imaginary, of writing poetry. The poem has been written such that it exemplifies the silly, yet consequential squabbles with one’s conscience or with another person and their stubbornness in refusing to accept what is the obvious, which makes the poem easier to understand. The poem has been expressed in a point for point rebuttal, with all of the poet’s comments being rebutted by the imaginary character- Poetry. This character is likely to be her conscience with whom she has conversations at 5 in the morning.
The language used is simple, understandable and flows along the lines of a conversation, e.g. ” I wasn’t sad or anything, just restless.” That line also shows that Walker cannot live without poetry and only feels complete otherwise. The humorous banter seen may also be an example of a parent-child squabble, which makes it easier to identify with, knowing that the all-knowing parent, in this case, Poetry, will win the squabble, despite all the reasoning Walker gives.
The lines, “… you have an eye to see it with” and “… and you still had one good eye to see it with…” refers to Walker’s blindness in one eye and the fact that she should be thankful for her remaining vision. Poetry reminds her that she should be
thankful for her opportunities to revel in the beauty that surrounds her.
When Walker ‘huffily’ denounces poetry for religion, Poetry slips in the fact that, poetry is not just writing alone, but also what is seen even in the minutest of occasions. “…what do you think you’ll see?” Once a poet, always a poet, as one sees poetry in motion everywhere. The use of questioning and answering makes the poem easier to digest and identify with as we use this method to reason things within ourselves or with others.
The tone of the poem also strikes a chord within me, mirroring the obvious course of action that I would take when faced with the most obvious of things. An example would be when I know that what I am doing is wrong but yet to choose to cover it up by pretending not to see my mistake. The lines that reflect this would be “…remember that, if ever so slightly?… I didn’t hear that. Besides, it’s five o’clock in the a.m…” and so forth.
When Walker makes excuses, complaining about the lack of paper and the funny noise the pen makes, Poetry denounces these as “bullshit” which adds to the human factor in the poem where most poets will not tread by using minor vulgarities. The use of such down-to-earth, common language simply makes the poem more refreshing to read, a change from the use of heavy language in most poems.
Lastly, the language, tone and the content of the poem makes concrete the fact that Walker is a poet who understands the common man and his struggles with various issues and how he goes about resolving these.