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Christina Perez
Professor Suzanne Rosneck
English 305
8 December 2015
Poems from the 20th Century
E.E. Cummings is best known for his innovations in style and structure
(Biography.com
Editors). His poems consisted with the use of unstructured form and
spacing, punctuation,
capitalization, overall grammar and pacing; perhaps serving as a structural
metaphor for his
belief that much of modern society killed individual creativity and freedom
(Biography.com
Editors). Ana Castillo is best known for her poems that involve topics of race,
gender, and
inequality. Her poems are often integrated with English and Spanish
vocabulary. E.E.
Cummings poem Why and Ana Castillos poem Napa, California (Dedicado al
Sr. Chavez, sept.
75) are examples that demonstrate nonconformist writing at its best. E. E.
Cummings and Ana
Castillo are poets whose works are from two different time periods during the
20th century, yet
they share a particular stylistic technique that is central in their work, style.
In both poems, diction is an important core element which
characterizes the language
used by the author. In the poem Why Cummings uses casual diction,
conversational everyday
vocabulary. His work is abstract with the use of conceptual and philosophical
word choice. He
also uses vulgarity in this particular poem. The word damn is used to
emphasize the
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importance of his message to the reader that money will not do anything for
the reader. If he
did not use a swearing word it would make this poem less effective. A word
like this in
Castillos poem she uses concrete diction. She wrote this poem using
language tangible to our
five senses. She often refers to the words, We pick (142) referring to the
workers, Cesar
Chavez, and herself. The use of the word We is undeniably categorize as
her involvement
working side by side with the other hard working men, women, and young
children in the field.
She is writing about her experiences as well as what she sees around her.
She is one of the
people. Her word choices allow the reader to visually imagine how these
workers actually
experience in the field. The power of diction captures the readers
imagination
The unique syntax in both poems share a common stylistic cleverness.
In Why the
poems words are broken up between one to four words per line. He uses
less expected syntax
with short sentences that highlights an important key feature. For example,
dont/ be/ sil/ ly/
, o no in-/ deed;/ money/ cant do(never/ did &/ never will)any (168). For
this reason, the
syntax is untraditional in the sense of what the author is focusing his
message upon. Each word
per line is in effect with the importance of reminding the reader to take a
deep breath and read
at a slow pace. Similarity to Castillos poem the words and clauses are
ordered and connected
in the sense of imagery. Throughout her poem she uses sentence structure
to express the
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image of picking grapes. When one picks grapes one usually picks it one at
a time and her
poem shows that relation through syntax, We pick/ the bittersweet grapes/
at harvest/ one/
by/ one (142). The line also breaks to display the image of picking grapes in
the field. Syntax is
shown in these two poems as a way to express poetry in a diverse fashion to
make their view
taken more seriously.
Style is another essential way of using language that is typical of an
author to define
their own writing. As mentioned before, Cummings is known for his unique
style of poetry and
the poem Why is one example. He only capitalized three words in the entire
poem, the title,
But, and Love. The rest of the words are lower case. He also separates
words from another
and punctuation is at the beginning of the sentence. At the end of the poem,
he places a
period spaced out from the word Love illustrated like this, . Love (168).
His intention for
this is to end with a period with a pause and separating Love as the last and
final thought. It is
written this way to emphasize Love is the key to all happiness not money.
His unique style
shows his way of expressing his view to the reader in a nontraditional
approach. The use of
multiple languages in a poem plays a large amount of importance. In
Castillos poem, Napa
California she uses both English and Spanish vocabulary. The significance of
using Spanish in
the poem is to demonstrate the workers communicating to one another in
the fields. It is
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important for Castillo to write a conversation among the workers in Spanish


because it shows
that the Mexican people are resilient, hardworking, people of all ages, men
and women doing
the same task. Without having this conversation, it would have not been the
same as in terms
of pulling in a real life conversation between the workers.
Tone sets the attitude of the poem. In Why the narrators attitude
toward the reader is
like a warning. The narrator seems as if he or she is talking to a friend about
whats more
important money or love. In that case, the narrator may be referring to
someone he or she
knows personally and the friend might be deciding on what he or she should
choose, career or
love. It seems like the narrator is more knowledgeable in this area maybe
because the narrator
had an experience just like this one. The narrators attitude at first is light,
but then progresses
to a darker tone when a curse word is involved. Towards the end, it lightens
up and finally ends
with one simple word, Love. In the tone of Napa, California it has more of an
intimate, prideful,
empowerment mood. The workers in the field are speaking to each other as
encouragement
towards one another. It feels like the workers are all in this together to get
the job done. The
tone is established right from the beginning of the poem to the very end.
The reader gets a
sense of empathy towards the hardworking men, women, and children in the
fields. Tone is
very important in a poem to set the atmosphere of a work.
In concluding, E.E. Cummings and Ana Castillos poems are different
in many ways, but
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share similar styles in their work. They both achieve their point across in a
nontraditional way
of writing, their diction is unique and essential for getting their point through,
their syntax is
ordered and connected loosely, their tone sets the mood of the poem. All
these important
elements of writing is recognized in these two poems.

Works Cited

Biography.comEditors. TheBiography.comWebsite. N/A. A & E Television


Network, N/A. Web.
7 December 2015.

Castillo, Ana. Napa, California (Dedicado al Sr. Chavez, sept. 75). My


Father Was a Toltec
and Selected Poems 1973-1988. Anchor Books. New York, 1995. 142-
143. Print.

Cummings, E.E. Why. a selection of poems. Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
New York, 1965.
168. Print.