Poem with an explanation: the shadow, the book, and what she hears

she walked about
and took the pages
from all the books
she saw

she stacked them up
and glued the sides
and then she had a book

the book did say
what she should wear
what she should see
what she should hear
what she should say
what she should do

behind her eyes
a shadow dwelt
and spoke a whisper
that was not heard

she felt the pull
and heard the shouts
and saw the crowd
and feared outside

she felt the pull
the judges spoke
the crowd did cheer
the shadow hid

she put the words
from within her book
into the mouths
of the painted forms

what she should wear
what she should see
what she should hear
what she should say
what she should do

she feared outside
the shadow hid
she made the room
from all the words
and did all that
she heard them say

she held the book
and the read the words
and heard the forms
speak what she said

she held her sign
and joined the crowd
that she did form
while behind her eyes
the shadow hid

 

This poem is about the influence of perceived popular societal culture.  It’s about what a person thinks society is telling them to do.

In a person’s life, they encounter many influences from society that tell them how to live their lives.  Magazines say how to dress.  Television says what movies to see.  Various personalities (TV hosts, radio hosts, etc.) say what is important.  People are told how to live, what they should think, and what is important.

In all of these influences though, is the idea that a person picks to a degree the societal influences they see.  A person decides what magazines to read.  A person decides what shows to watch.  A person decides what websites to look at.  In all of this, a person has an influence in shaping the societal message they come in contact with, even if they are not aware of it.

Sometimes, a person can feel societal pressure.  There is the idea that there is something everyone is doing and that they should do it too.  There is some show everyone is watching.  Some movie everyone is seeing.  Some event everyone is going to.  There are variety of expressions regarding this idea.  Things like, “Social media can’t stop talking about …” or “The show everyone will be talking about tomorrow”.

There are more subtle pressures as well.  If a person sees something, like a movie, being heavily advertised, they might perceive that many people will see it.  If they hear a TV personality talk about a show, they might perceive the show to be important.  If they see characters in a show acting a certain way, they might feel that is how they should act.  In this, there is the fear that they will miss out on something, and won’t be part of the group, if they don’t see the movie or show or act a certain way.

Despite the ideas people often have about the value of being an individual, there is also the idea of being part of the group.  Sometimes conforming can be a strong influence on a person.  Sometimes there is a perceived value in being “like everyone else”.

This poem explores this idea under the backdrop of the idea that the person forms their own view of society.  In the poem, the person feels societal pressure, but this pressure comes from a view of society that they partially shaped.

The first stanza of the poem says, she walked about/ and took the pages/ from all the books/ she saw.  In this stanza, the character in the poem is starting to form her own view of society.  The “books” are all the places she gets influences.  They include TV shows, the news, billboards, the internet and other things.  She sees these things and pulls from them ideas of how she thinks society says she should be.

In the second stanza (she stacked them up/ and glued the sides/ and then she had a book), she over time forms a view of society.  From all the influences she has come in contact with, she has shaped, as it were, a guidebook for how to live.

In her book (in the third stanza), she has perceived how she feels society tells her to dress, what shows and movies to see, what songs to listen to, what she should feel about issues and how she should behave.

Inside her though, in the fourth stanza, the woman has a true personality.  There is the way she feels she should live her life.  This is described as a shadow whispering.  Much of how she feels she should live is at odds with the societal message she has shaped, and therefore she ignores how she feels.

In the fifth stanza, she feels societal pressure.  She feels that everyone is behaving a certain way and feels that she will be left out if she does not behave that way as well.  She feels she has to see the show everyone is seeing.  She has to see the movie everyone is watching.  She has to experience what everyone is experiencing.

In the sixth stanza, this idea is expressed.  She feels the pull of society.  She sees personalities (on TV, radio, etc.) as somehow judging behavior.  These people tell her what is important, what she should believe and how she should act.  She feels that society, in the form of the crowd, agrees with the judges.  In all of this, she hides her true feelings and personality.

The seventh stanza stresses the idea that she shapes her view of society.  In all the things she has seen, she has taken parts from them, and shaped a view of what she thinks society says she should be.  She is not aware that she has shaped this view.

In her view, in stanza eight, society tells her how to dress, what movies and shows to watch, what music to listen to, how she should believe about things and how she should act.

She feels, in the ninth stanza, that not conforming to this view is bad in some way.  She feels like it would make her on the outside.  She wants to fit in.  She wants to do what she perceives society to be saying is cool, popular, and good.  This causes her to hide her true personality and views and live her life the way she believes society is telling her to.

The tenth stanza reiterates the idea that she has had an influence on what she perceives as society.

In the last stanza, she conforms her life to her view of society while she hides her true personality.

The idea of this poem is to examine the idea of perceived societal pressure.  It looks at the idea that people shape their own views of how they think society tells them to be.  It focuses on the pressure as well as on the forming of what the pressure is about.

P. S. As a note, there will not be a new blog post on M. Sakran’s blog of and about poetry and poetry related things on Monday May 28, 2018.