The poem I have chosen to break down my confusion about is “They shut me up in Prose.” In this title alone we see an interesting use of capitalization and word choice. The ‘they’ is capitalized as the first word of a sentence normally is, but then the Prose is also capitalized. I understood this to be an emphasis on the fact that she is able to voice her opinions in poetry even though the unknown ‘they’ have restricted her from expressing herself through normal writing. The way she words the sentence saying “in Prose” I’m guessing is the proper way to word that sentence. There is no rhyme pattern with the word prose later in the stanza that would cause it to be written that way. However, if the sentence is read in iambs, shut, up, and prose are stressed which could be important. Then again, I could think this sentence is weird because I do not know proper English and this is proper.
Moving on, the first stanza seems simple, she illustrates the way she has been quieted by using the simile of a little girl. The capitalization in this stanza has me stumped with no explanation. In the next stanza she is angered to be silenced. If only they could see what she is thinking and understand it. Then she makes reference to a bird in a pound for treason. The only reason for connecting these three separate things would be to underscore the stupidity of the ‘they.’ Nobody would think that a bird would commit a crime, especially treason, and then to throw it in the pound is usually an idea synonymous with dogs. It is possible that the bird has symbolic meaning and treason is representative of some greater idea, but literally it expresses her feelings toward ‘they.’
The last stanza is broken up strangely in the end, but makes sense up until the last line. “Himself has but to will” (9) means that all he has to do is try, try to see what he is doing to her. The next two lines could represent the captivity she feels she is being held in and because a star is so high in the sky, it would be easy for it to look down. Here the line breaks perhaps as a dramatic pause like in a play. She builds hope for ‘him’ to see his mistake and then, just as we think he is going to change his ways, right his wrong, he just laughs at her. Her spirit is broken and she laughs no more.
1) Who are they?
2) Has anyone read this poem differently? Maybe she’s not upset and I should stop analyzing poetry. A different view could change this poem and be good for a class discussion.