Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, SOMEONE'S BLOOD, by RITA DOVE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

SOMEONE'S BLOOD, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Someone's Blood" is a poem by Rita Dove, published in her collection "On the Bus with Rosa Parks" in 1999.


The poem is a powerful meditation on the legacy of slavery and the ongoing impact of racial violence in American society. The title "Someone's Blood" suggests a shared humanity, as blood is a common element that runs through all people. However, the poem quickly subverts this idea, as the blood in question is that of a lynching victim.

The poem begins with a description of the body of the victim, "still warm and trembling," hanging from a tree. The speaker then imagines the thoughts of the people who committed this heinous act, asking, "Did they feel the wind / pushing them forward, did they hear / the voice of God in their ears?" The poem then shifts to the present, as the speaker reflects on the legacy of this violence, with "the stains of it everywhere / like the rusty leaves of autumn."

Poetic Elements:

  • Structure: The poem consists of three stanzas of varying length, with no consistent meter or rhyme scheme. The lack of a formal structure adds to the feeling of chaos and violence.
  • Imagery: The use of vivid and visceral imagery throughout the poem, such as the description of the victim's body and the stains of blood, creates a powerful sense of the brutality of the act and its ongoing impact.
  • Themes: The poem explores the legacy of slavery and the ongoing impact of racial violence in American society. It also raises questions about the motivations of the perpetrators of such violence and the role of divine authority in justifying it.
  • Rhyme: The rhyme scheme in the given four lines is AABB.

In conclusion, "Someone's Blood" is a haunting and powerful poem that confronts the ongoing legacy of racial violence in American society. Through vivid imagery and a fragmented structure, Dove reminds us of the importance of confronting the past in order to move towards a more just and equitable future.

Poem Snippet:l

"In the garden, the cicadas thrum

while I linger here, sucking on my thumb,

too shaken to move, to take a breath,

all I can see is someone's blood, someone's death."

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