Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Stone's Throw (Poem)

Literal Meaning
         A crowd has caught a woman. The persona implies to the reader that the woman is not decent. She was beautiful, but scared because she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the crowd. The persona states that the woman has experienced men's hands on her body before, but this crowd's hands were virtuous.

          He also makes a proviso that if this crowd bruises her, it cannot be compared to what she has experienced before. The persona also speaks about a last assault and battery to come. He justifies this last assault by calling it justice, and it is justice that feels not only right, but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold by the interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk to the lady. 

          He squats on the ground and writes something that the crowd cannot see. Essentially, the preacher judges them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge the crowd, leading to the crowd inevitably judging itself. The crowd walks away from the lady, still holding stones [which can be seen as a metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown another day.

Literary Devices
          The persona is making the point that the lady was in fact NOT decent looking.

         This device is particularly effective because the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies something pleasant, but it is actually utilized to emphasize something painful that has happened to the lady; she was stoned.

 PUN :
Title: The title of the poem is itself a pun on two levels. A stone's throw is used by many people in the Caribbean to describe a close distance. eg. "She lives a stone's throw away". The other use of the title is to highlight the content of the poem. It is a figurative stoning, or judging, of a woman.

 ALLUSION (biblical) The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian Bible. See John 8 v 5-7.

Lines 13-15: These lines show that the men who were ‘holding stones’ believe they are more morally upright than the other men with whom the woman associates.  

One would think that men with ‘virtuous’ hands would have only pure thoughts, but these men intend to stone the woman , who  seems utterly defenseless. Also, images of cruelty are used, such as ‘bruised’, ‘kisses of stone’, ‘battery’ and ‘frigid rape’. 

         The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it becomes sarcastic, moving to scornful.
Discrimination-  The poor treatment the persona receives by the men in the poem as a result of her profession. 
Appearance vs reality
Power and Powerlessness

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