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Extended Metaphor in Marks by Linda Pastan V.s Divorce by Billy Collins

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Two poems in the book that stand out the most are Marks By Linda Pastan and Divorce by Billy Collins. These poems are extremely mind picking and thought deriving. These poems find a way to show the love and the despair going on behind closed doors. ‘Love is patient, love is kind’ (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a) . Pastan uses the grades a student would get in school to describe how the family measures her as a wife/mom. The speaker’s family is obviously not literally giving her grades for each activity or chore she is required to do, however through using this metaphor, she is able to effectively communicate with her audience.The spoons symbolize the marriage. Like a spoon and it’s user, the spouse is supportive, lifting the other up when in need and never allowing any part of their love to fall. The fork symbolizes the decline in the marriage. It doesn’t really support anything because of the gaps between the ‘tines’ it allows the love to fall away.The knife symbolizes the lawyers who are cold and bitter. Cutting away at what was once a loving and caring relationship.

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In the poem “Divorce”, Billy Collins uses extended metaphor, and unemotional diction to create a cold, distant tone. In the first line, Collins uses a metaphor comparing him and his wife to “two spoons in bed”. By using this metaphor, he refers to the happier times of their marriage where, like two spoons, they fit together perfectly. This line also makes a reference to spooning which would reflect how they once were a happy couple that fit together. In the next line, Collins continues his metaphor comparing them to silverware, but now they have changed to “tined forks”. This change reflects how as a couple they have become more clunky and they don’t fit together well anymore. By using the imagery of forks, Collins is also demonstrating how they have come to hurt each other by staying together; unlike spoons, forks can hurt if they are not used properly, just like their relationship has become harmful instead of happy.

This entire poem is one giant extended metaphor. Pastan uses the grades a student would get in school to describe how her family measures her as a wife/mom. The speaker’s family is obviously not literally giving her grades for each activity or chore she is required to do, however through using this metaphor, she is able to effectively communicate with her audience.

The extended metaphor used within this poem is effective for creating an easily understood analogy between the speaker and the audience, since any possible reader has received at least a small amount of schooling.

The prose of the first and second lines caught my attention, as they were very carefully worded. They read:

“My husband gives me an A for last night’s supper,”

If a reader was to simply read the first line of the poem and pause, she would sense that the poem would be a positive one. But as soon as the reader reads the second line, her logic would change. I felt this set-up within the poem was very powerful.

The overall tone of this poem is one of melancholy. The speaker doesn’t show very much emotion within the poem, and simply states the facts. I imagine the speaker living a hard life, not with reference to physical labor, but in dealing with a high level of emotional stress. Any mother would be simply devastated if her husband constantly put her down, and her children said she was simply an “average” mom. 

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