The short poem “On Reading Poems to a Senior Class at South High,” by D.C. Berry expands on its basic sense of imagery, by focusing on the key aspect of conveying uprising emotions that the narrator encountered with. Besides the evident presence of visual imagery being used by D.C. Berry, he also includes organic imagery as a way of expressing emotions and feelings as they develop, as the poem progresses and how the narrator adapts to the soothing and calm atmosphere of the senior class. Unique in its own way the title of the poem gives off a totally different connotation of what the reader expects the poem to suggest and lead up to.
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Berry begins with a dramatic opening, “Before”1 as a means of an attention grabber as well as a captivating opening to make the readers aware and interested in what till come next. In lines 2-5, one can notice the visual imagery aspect of this poem, “I noticed them sitting there as orderly as frozen fish in a package,”2 implying that the seniors are sitting in their closely placed desks like fish are placed close together in a food package to sell. As an overview of the atmosphere is set in the room, “water began to fill the room,”3 where tension and anxiety function primarily to convey emotion. One can see this by the diction Berry uses and also through the stanza structure where the length of lines are diminishing, giving off a negative feeling or direction in the way the poem is heading into.
In the third stanza, one can notice the uprising effect of auditory, kinesthetic, and organic imagery. The core of the poem, “I heard the sounds of the fish in an aquarium,”4 gives off a sense that there is a lot of movement in the room, hence the narrator is impacted internally by the rising tension as the ratio is one person to a whole senior class. However, the story takes a twist when, “That they had only opened up like gills for them and let me in,”5 suggesting thatthe students minds and ears opened up to let the words of the poem and to the speaker.
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As the narrator established a place in the supposed classroom or as Berry puts it in a fish tank, “we all leak out,”6 suggesting that the water was leaking from thefish tank and correlating to the classroom that the class period ended and how the students went out of the classroom onto a different room as the bell rung. To confirm the assumption the following idea confirms the inferred view, “The went to another class, I suppose and I home.”7
The final stanza, gives an insight of the aftermath of the speakers visit to South High, after trying to read poetry to the senior class. “Till they were hands again,”8 shows how the speaker is decompressing from a highly stressful day after his/her visit. The speaker is trying to overcome the awful experience once he/she finally reaches his/her abode.See More on Poem