COMPARISON OF JOY HARJO WORKS
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Like many other feminist poetesses writing in the 1980s, she experimented with language, symbols and structure. She uses her poems as part of her power to her ethnic group, to women, and to all people.
As a member of an oppressed minority that has been cheated and nearly extinguished, Harjo is concerned with individual, cultural, and spiritual survival and it becomes the main theme of its creativity. “She Had Some Horses” is rather autobiographical and images Harjo’s own fight to survive as a mixed-blood woman in a vicious society. This poem gives a speechless woman the chance to tell her story and, by doing so, make her mark in the society as a woman of sence and worth. In her another poem – “Alva Benson,” Harjo also takes up the theme of modern world and its depression of Native American heritage. The women in “Alva Benson” move from according childbirth outside, in community with the ground, to working in the limits of a cold, idle, concrete hospice.
As a Native American poetess, Harjo follows a varying aesthetic from her Western colligues. The traditions of her Muscogee Creek roots are central to her poetic vision and expressiveness. Her use of the hymn form in “She Had Some Horses” is an example of her obligation to her Native American background, as well as her challenge of the dominant Anglo culture and its customs. For example, the horse was an significant spiritual sign to the Plains Indians, it symbolizes control, force, and survival so she uses this symbol in her poem. The rhythmic reiteration of “She had some horses” and “She had horses” performance as a mystical sorcery invoking healing and wholeness. Also the horse is really important as a symbol of survival. The speaker’s recollection is a spiritual and emotional battleground where conflicting points of opinion threaten to overcome and destroy the woman»s spirit. The several horses in the poem symbolize the fractured spiritual shape of the woman: Some horses are hopeful influences, some harmful, and some neutral. In order to remain alive with her ego entire, the woman must domesticate the horses of her soul by accepting them as they are. In her another book “What Moon Drove Me to This?” she continues to combine everyday experiences with deep mystic truths. The book frequently integrals prayer-chants and beast imagery, accomplishing spiritually expressive effects. Joy Harjo is clearly a highly civil and feminist Native American, but she is even more the poetess of mythos and the imagination; her images and landscapes owe as much to the expansive stretches of our veiled mind as they do to her native Southwest.
The poems from She Had Some Horses, her first book of poetry selected in this anthology are primarily about women requiring their right to live and breathe and get through in a world often uncaring to all three struggles.
“Remember” says the reader:
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language came from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
The title of poem also uses reiteration, this time of the construction “She had some horses” throughout the poem to describe the magical and dual nature of a woman’s life. The poem ends:
She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.
These were the same horses.
Compounded with the expressive mysterious symbol and phrasing in so many of her poems, Harjo brings in and makes simple features of everyday life significant, such as in “Naming”:
I call my sisters to dress for the stomp dance
As all the little creatures hum and sing
in the thick grass around the grounds.
Lightning bugs are tiny stars
dancing in the river of dusk.
Our stomachs are full of meat and fry bread
and the talk of aunts and uncles.
The most evident detail of Harjo’s “Remember” is the custom of narration. In this poem “remember” is reiterated throughout the poem. Every line of the poem starts with this word and the whole poem ends with this word. Joy Harjo uses reiteration in this poem not just to strain the importance of the topic of the poem which is to retain one «s last in order to move forward, but it also takes a rhythmic form to the poem when said out loud, almost sounding like a song or a song. It is permits the poem to come to life.
Both Joy Harjo’s poems “Perhaps the World Ends Here” and “Naming” symbolize attempts by the poetess to devise a essential symbol within a poem which is able of holding a massive number of associations, from the domestic to the multi-national. By investing spiritless objects: a kitchen buffet, a war monument with sentiment “spirit” and associative meaning, the poetess is able to upturn the usual “banality” of inanimate objectives and express the concept that these objects not only shares of cultural resonances, but they are really cultural out-growths which, through poems, reach an expressive potentiality that would otherwise probably not be associated with the material objects themselves. Her language is poetic, but not overtly so. Her uses of literal language rather than tightly or complex diction, puts a tone of down-to-earth reality.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what,
we must eat to live.
From this evidently pedestrian opening, Harjo moves masterly to metaphorical expression.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the
table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.
With this first image of metaphorical expression “the Gifts of earth” Harjo begins the huge, thematic association which moves the poem in its entirety to eloquence and abstract vision. All that metaphors permits us to enter the place we have not imagined and allows us to imagine what we will do when we are there.
Otfinovski, Stev. “Native American Writers”. Library of Congress. March 2010.
Spaces and places in motion:
Schruder Nic. “Spaces and places in motion: spatial concepts in contemporary American literature”. Nov. 2006. Gunter Narr Verlag
Harjo, J. “She Had Some Horses”