What is meaning of poem "Offspring" by Naomi Long Madgett?
- classmateLv 78 years agoBest Answer
I tried to tell her:
This way the twig is bent.
Born of my trunk and strengthened by my roots,
You must stretch newgrown branches
Closer to the sun
Than I can reach.
I wanted to say:
Extend my self to that far atmosphere
Only my dreams allow.
But the twig broke,
And yesterday I saw her
Walking down an unfamiliar street,
Face slanted upward toward a threatening sky,
She was smiling
And she was
Her very free,
Her very individual,
That's the poem. The speaker is a mother talking about her daughter.
In the first stanza, she describes the daughter not really as a separate individual, but as just a continuation of herself, a twig sprouting from her trunk. She wants nothing but good things for her daughter -- all that stuff about stretching closer to the sun -- but she wants to express her hopes and aspirations by telling the girl, "Extend my self."
Then in the second stanza, she talks about the realization that her daughter has grown into an independent young woman. She's not just an extension of her mother. She's her own self. And the mother seems proud and happy about that. As the daughter has grown, it seems that the mother's thinking as also grown and evolved. She's OK with letting go and acknowledging her daughter's separateness and individuality.
- synopsisLv 78 years ago
In Offspring Naomi Long Madgett imagines a mother talking to her daughter.
The mother tries to pass on her lifelessons to her daughter, and to explain that her daughter will be able to go further in life than she (the mother) ever managed.
Then, in the last paragraph, the speaker of the poem sees her daughter out walking alone. Her daughter is her own woman, she neither heeds nor needs her mother's 'lessons'.
The poem reflects a moment in Black American Women's History. Black Women of Naomi Long Madgett's generation fought discrimination, and the Jim Crow laws. Their struggle was long and difficult, but they knew that the rewards of equal opportunity they could pass on to their children would be worth it.
But the Civil Rights campaign was so successful that many children born since (say) the 1980's seem hardly aware of how long and hard that journey was. There are young African Americans today who have simply always assumed that they were equal, that they had just as much value as their white peers.
The generation who fought for Civil Rights know how taxing that fight was. But they also need to accept that many of the new generation will never value that struggle (or even know about it).
Liberty is something that should be taken for granted. But when people take their liberty for granted, sometimes it is only because someone else has paid for it.
The poem is about that.