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Analysis of Triumph Like a Girl

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This feminine ability to derive power from animals is unabashedly clear in the opening poem of Bright Dead Things. The Pushcart winner, “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” is a playful celebration of womanhood

The first line is disarming, initially characterizing the mares un-feministically as “lady horses”— ladylike and prancy, not at all your stereotypical leaders.

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Limon wrote this poem around the idea of the Kentucky Derby . She has often said there is an undeniable connection between her and animals

She relates to the femaleness of the huge animal and all that it embodies by saying, “as if this big dangerous animal is also a part of me”. It is evident that Limon has power and soul inside of her “that thinks, no, it knows, it's going to come in first”. The author uses diction to her advantage in that she creates a heightened sense of hope and competitiveness. With phrases such as “huge beating genius” and “delicate skin” she increases the contrast between human and animal with specific word choice. Limon is saying, if a female racehorse can do it, so can she. She wrote the poem to encourage “anyone who's in need of a reason to fight their way across that finish line”. While there is a big difference between horse and human, Limon, gives you a sense of hope. The thought that ‘if they can do it so can I’ enters my head and i paint a picture of a scenario where i stand strong and tall. I as the reader felt empowered and enough. I am just enough because somewhere deep inside of me is the fierceness to get the job done, Limon uses imagery to allow the reader to imagine the power behind the horse. She uses the phrase “lady horse swagger” and i immediately picture a horse that is confident in their whole selves. Shortly after, Limon writes, “Ears up girls, ears up!”, once again picturing the horses on their victory trot. “The delicate skin of my body”, goes to portray the tenderness of human versus the “heavy with blood” intense, horse heart. The imagery makes this poem come alive. Finally, one of the most crucial elements that went into making this poem as powerful as it is, is the way the author used second person “you”, She was able to grab your attention with, “Don't you want to believe it” by asking an almost rhetorical question, that forces yourself to evaluate your thoughts on the powerfulness of females. Through this poem and the poetic elements used, Limon created a fan to the flame of GIRL POWER.

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In conclusion, Critics love Bright Dead Things, calling it musical, emotional, and honest in poems that are muscular and unflinching. Like them, I appreciated Limón’s accessibility and willingness to buck the contemporary trend of a poetics that is too often ironic, impersonal, and difficult to the point of opacity. Unabashed about wearing her heart on her sleeve, Limon says outright in one interview: “My confession: most of my poems are autobiographical. The strange, twisty narrative of the inner voice, the voice underneath the voice, is always what fascinates me and keeps me writing.” This is not to say the poems lack texture, vivid imagery, or depth. The voice in Bright Dead Things speaks with quiet authority about universal issues like identity, home, love, and death in moments observed with intensity, precision and complexity

As we saw in Jane Hirshfield’s poem a few weeks ago, what is said is not simple even though how it is said may seem so.

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