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Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

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This is a poem about a woman at her old age.  The mood is sombre throughout because she is telling of her lonely reality that comes along advanced years.  She acknowledges that her life was not always so as she had sons and daughters. This is seen in the first stanza, the second line where she mentions her children who have put her away like old toys which are no longer needed. The writer has used imagery at this point to bring a picture of how children abandon their toys which they once treasured but no longer need.

The persona also vividly describes the atmosphere in the second and third stanzas. She explains the changes in seasons. She does know that she is facing autumn but she still feels as though its summer or spring. It is as if according to her times are moving too swift for her to accommodate the changes. The whole lifetime of the flowers and grasses represents the transformation of her children. It tells of their fading love for their mother. It’s as though it’s withered away like the dying flowers and tarnished grasses.

The forth stanza is very similar to the third. The climate has changed to winter.  It’s chilly and nothing is there to give her warmth. Moreover, her loneliness is getting worse. The lack of her children’s love is even depressing her more. The rhyming used in this stanza clearly brings out the woman’s needlessness. However she is trying to live with it. The winter time has been used symbolically to show of the mother’s bravery. She embraces her harsh and lonely reality without fear.

In the fifth stanza, the persona acts as though she is getting mad. She hears her children’s voices like echoes in her head. This is obviously her imaginations originating from long ago when her children were still living with her. She compares her oldness to dust, perhaps to symbolize the old toys- put away with marbles and dolls.  In the last stanza, the woman seems to come into terms with her fate. She finally acknowledges that the bond between her and her kids can longer be fixed. She is left with two decisions, either to let life pass her by, or to let her memories fade in her children’s lives, just like their toys. (Bloom, 2002)

An Analysis of a Song in the Front Yard

This is a poem about a white girl who has been confined in her front yard and her neighbours at the back yard are mainly black girls who envy her life. The white girl describes her life as boring and desires to be left wild like her black peers who view her as privileged. This is because she has everything that she needs at her disposal and therefore has no worries of hustling and busting. However she seems not to appreciate what she has but would rather have the freedom to adventure.

The writer strongly uses flowers metaphorically to represent the two worlds. The front yard is compared to a rose flower implying that it’s a pleasant place to be in. It portrays a safe place; well guarded and pruned. It could also be a representation of the kind of lifestyle lived by the inhabitants of the front yard; the white girl is a well groomed lady; shielded from bad mannerism and company. On the other hand, the backyard is compared to weeds. It creates an illusion of danger. It’s a place that harbours all kinds of crime. However, the white girl sees this as a place of adventures; where girl her age are allowed to experience and explore.

The writer basically compares two lifestyles. One is the ideal life. A standard life where education is displayed this is through the good English that the white girl speaks. Good articulation. The white girl is also brought up with discipline. This is seen in the stanza where she is given boundaries. She is allowed to be out until quarter past nine. Clearly to stop her from witnessing the misbehaviour that occurs at wee hours. There is a complete difference in the life that she so desires. It’s backwards. Kids waste away. This is shown in the strong opinion of the white girl’s mother. According to her, the girl that her daughter admires will become a bad woman. Perhaps she lacked self control; perhaps she would have ended up pregnant and the so called George would eventually be jailed.

The white girl does not agree with her mother’s assessment. She feels as though she is missing out on something; as though time is passing her by. However she reveals that she does not only want to mingle with her age mates and have fun playing games. She yarns for something more as she states that she wants to be a bad woman. Her desires could perhaps echo what poets want-to stop treading on safe grounds but also have an experience with the wild. The poem could be talking about the lives of poets and their secret longing (The Oxford Book of American Poetry, 2006).

Comparison Between the two poems


The two poems talk about two people who are both lonely. The first woman has been abandoned by her family and therefore left alone while the white girl has been separated from her peers and forced to play alone.  They both want to be bonded to people. The aging woman desires to reunite with her loved ones while the white girl seeks the companion of her neighbours. The two poems both use vivid description, rhymes and metaphor as their main stylistic devices to convey their message.


The two poems talk about different ages in ones lifetime. For the first woman, her life is coming to an end while for the white girl; she is just beginning to become a woman.  Their desires differ. The old woman longs for her family while the other longs for her peers company. The mother in the first poem desires something she wants heard but is gone while the white girl is looking for something she never heard.  

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