Poetry in Frank Ocean’s Pink+White

As conveyed in the title “Pink+White”, Frank Ocean explains his passion for a person and his perspective on the world through his memories. He interlaces the ups and downs that come with feelings of love and attachment by comparing them to either light or darkness with seemingly no in between. 

The first set of lyrics in the song serves to describe a strange pink and white landscape then contrast it with a more realistic black and yellow landscape in order to highlight the randomness and lack of control we have in the world. 

“That’s the way everyday goes

Every time we’ve no control

If the sky is pink and white

If the ground is black and yellow

It’s the same way you showed me”

The following verses make an undeniable statement about the importance of love and trust during disastrous times. Ocean uses a metaphor about the atmosphere and north and south geography to describe his attachment to someone he loves. The description of feeling “south” contradicts the cold loneliness of the north and provides a sense of comfort. The comparison to the Earth and its atmosphere describe how Ocean felt powerless in such a vast world and was unable to grasp the events taking place in his own life. 

“If you could fly then you’d feel south

Up north’s getting cold soon

The way it is, we’re on land

So I’m someone to hold true

Keep you cool in this good life

Won’t let you down when it’s all ruined”

Ocean uses vivid imagery throughout the song to tell specific memories from his earlier life. The peaceful music and fond portrayal of the memory give the listener a sense of peace yet the subtle ominous intermissions scattered throughout, such as the mention of a hurricane, send a different message. The guitar strums softly in the background while the lyrics recall children playing. 

“In the wake of a hurricane

Dark skin of a summer shade

Nosedive in the flood lines

Tall tower of milk crates

It’s the same way you showed me

Cannonball off the porch side

Older kids trying off the roof”

On the surface the song seems to be recalling fond memories from his past until the end of the piece. Ocean uses repetition of the line “the same way you showed me”. The repetition of this line, written in the past tense suggests that he had been talking about the happy memories and affection of someone he lost throughout the song. After repeating this line multiple times in seemingly random spots in the song he sings 

“That’s the same way you showed me, showed me

You showed me love

Glory from above

Regard my dear

It’s all downhill from here”

This shift in tone continues until the end of the poem where he reminisces about cigarettes and tragedy and how he has nostalgia for his past despite the fact that it was a more difficult time in many aspects. As the song progresses from fond memories to more dark moments of his past it becomes apparent that Ocean’s purpose in these lyrics was to describe how relationships tend  to go wrong after the “glory”. This however does not mean that the two were never good, in fact using the term “glory” suggests that at one point things were going very well between them. Instead he is pointing his experiences in how after a relationship reaches a peak it begins to fail shortly thereafter each and every time leaving him feeling out of control.

“2009” by Mac Miller is Poetry

Mac Miller is a 21st century rap artist who sadly passed away in the year 2018 by a tragic drug overdose. The song “2009” starts off with a wonderful piano solo that really sets the mood for the song as a whole. The song then transitions into Miller himself who comes in with a very soft tone of voice. Mac has always been known for his well thought out rhyme schemes and he shows that here in this song as well.

The song starts with the chorus that is repeated many times throughout.

“I don’t need to lie no more
Nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind, and
She don’t cry no more
She tell me that I get her high ’cause an angel’s s’posed to fly, and
I ain’t askin’ “Why?” no more
Oh, no, I take it if it’s mine, I don’t stay inside the lines
It ain’t 2009 no more
Yeah, I know what’s behind that door

These lines here specifically hit hard to the listener and to Mac himself. They represent his past times and what he had to go through in that specific year which was 2009. Mac battled many things including depression that was fueled by a deadly drug addiction, as well as relationship issues that were also prominent in the ideas for his songs.

This song specifically I think can really fit into that category of poetry. The song throughout has a rheme scheme representing that as of a poem and flows like a poem as well.

” Nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind, and
She don’t cry no more”

These specific lines really show Mac Miller’s ability to use a certain flow and his descriptive langue to show his troubles with his relationships and how he is coping with them and as well as how he is doing in the moment of the song.

Verse 1 also features some extremely powerful lines that if read out loud you would assume is poetry.

“Now every day I wake up and breathe
I don’t have it all but that’s all right with me
Take it nice and easy, took a flight to see me
Send you back home with a light that’s beamin’
The whole team ’bout to figure it out
We ice cold, that’s what winter about
And sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route
Instead of havin’ demons that’s as big as my house, mhmm

Have a ball with a dribble and bounce”

Here, Mac Miller uses an aaaabbbbb rhyme scheme that also features a metaphor. Using this scheme and combing it with a metaphor helps the reader better understand how Mac is feeling mentally at this state in this song (at this state in his life). Mac’s lines here also show his thankfulness for just the fact that he was here and living at this point in time, even though he may not have everything in life.

Verse 2 also illuminates some very powerful lines

“You don’t ever gotta worry
Even when it’s 7:30 and the time is runnin’ low
When your heart get cold
See what’s behind all them unturned stones
And I’m a pro when it come to my job
But really I’m just tryna start believin’ in God
Now when it gets hard
I don’t panic, I don’t sound the alarm”

Once again, Mac uses rhyming to emphasize the significance of woman in his life. Mac also shows his newfound relation and hopefulness that he can now make God significant in his life. Comparing praying to God and sounding the alarm creates a powerful metaphor and really shows how much god means to him and how he feels safe to have him.

This song truly represents poetry. It lines not only represent things much bigger than the words on the page like poetry, but also has a form and rhyme scheme like an actual poem. Mac Miller is an artist and with his use of words, he could easily have written an award-winning poem if he were still here today.

The Poetic Understandment of Love

To fulfill or understand the notion of love may be impossible, however when written down the meanings are endless. To some, the song “Blue Eyed Girl” may just be another love song explaining the gratitude one has for his partner, but to the eye’s of poetry: a masterpiece is born within. Written by The Arcadian Wild and released on their first album, The Arcadian Wild, the song relays the importance of unconditional love and the impeccable impact love may have. In the album, “The Arcadian Wild”, love is written in traditional and non-traditional gestures, but mainly it lies in the perseverance of the eyes. The lasting connection that is drawn from one’s eyes helps explain what love means to one another, making this song a poetic masterpiece. 

As the song begins, immediate gratification is brought to the listener’s ears through the lyrics of the first verse. Lincoln Mick, lead songwriter, displays a type of love where one partner can really can the other for the better. In this case, the narrator was a lost person before meeting her, and he was waiting for the day they may be together. 

Well, I’d been writing songs about you

Before our paths ever crossed

And since I’ve been hanging around you

I’ve been feeling a little less lost

The narrator acknowledges the rhythm of her spirit created in him and only wants the world to see this side of her. The story of their love was that she saved him. She saved him from the grey world surrounding him, the dullness filling his life, and finding a will to continue on. He only wishes throughout this song, with revealing a signature feature of hers, that the world will interpret the beauty that lies within everyone. 

Let the colors of your soul spill out for everyone to see

In a world of black, and white, and gray

You paint something beautiful every day

Through words of love and admiration, a poetic masterpiece is being produced. The poetic language being used, one could argue, resembles the truthness to their love story. Each one is to further display what this love from the blue eyed girl has done to impact his life. Instead of stating the obvious and letting the lyrics sit dully, the uses of allusion, diction, and metaphors help enhance the narrator’s meaning and importance of this blue eyed girl.  

I’ll march right along to your beat

And the rhythm of your spirit makes me

Feel much more alive

There’s wisdom in the way you speak

And I see “I love you” in your eyes 

In the particular verse brought to attention above, these uses of poetic language are strongest. The way his love is described to the audience through the diction chosen is very much alive. Using bright words such as spirit, alive, or even I love you all speaks to the audience to feel how he is feeling for the blue eyed girl. The uses of diction create butterflies in one’s stomach that last long enough to envy the love that exists in these verses. The metaphor that is fluent in this quick stanza is the last line, which goes back to the title of the song, “Blue Eyed Girl”. The metaphor that exists in the idea of eyes is represented throughout the song, however in this exact line, the strongest and realest meaning is shown. What the narrator is trying to express for why eyes mean so much to him is answered with this simple line. Knowing the impact of how the blue eyed girl created a new way of life to the narrator has been formed through each stanza, there has been subtle allusion to how she has truly impacted him. Alluding to the wisdom that she speaks is mentioned in this line, it represents how she has worked through personal confections with him. This poetic masterpiece, a sonnet one may argue, relays the everlasting impact of love with only a tone of love.

Getting Better

Upon a first listen, the song “I Wanna Get Better” from Bleachers’ album Strange Desire can be seen merely as a catchy song to be blasted from car speakers while speeding down the highway. Upon further listening to the lyrics, however, you quickly realize that it is an emotional experience about someone battling depression merely moments away from killing themselves. The song, from the point of view of someone who is in a back and forth battle with themselves for their own life, details the extreme power depression can hold on a person and the devastating effects if that person can’t find an escape. The speaker’s deep sadness and longing are highlighted through the lines

While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down parkway lines

I was losing my mind ’cause the love, the love, the love, the love, the love

That I gave wasted on a nice face

In a blaze of fear I put a helmet on a helmet

Counting seconds through the night and got carried away

So now I’m standing on the overpass screaming at the cars,

Hey, I wanna get better!

The speaker is merely moments away from killing themselves in that instant, but they are stopped by a desire to get better. Bleachers use of rhythm illustrates the overwhelming panic and pain that the speaker was feeling and how quickly they were driven to the overpass. Although all else seems lost, they hold on to life because they have one person that inspires them to do so. The speaker then says, directly after the previous lines

I didn’t know I was lonely ’til I saw your face

I wanna get better, better, better, better,

I wanna get better

I didn’t know I was broken ’til i wanted to change

I wanna get better, better, better, better,

I wanna get better

This one person in the speakers life is the only one that gives them the motivation to keep going. Bleachers is able to demonstrate the importance of finding and keeping those people close to you for when it does seem impossible to keep going. Bleachers’ use of repetition serves multiple purposes in the song. Not only does it get stuck in your head, but it shows how the speaker is at their breaking point. Many people face depression and loss on a daily basis and sometimes it looks like there is no way out or reason to keep living. It is also often difficult to know, like the speaker, the extent to which you are feeling lost or that there is no way out until it is too late. It is only because of that one person in the speaker’s life that the speaker does actually want to get better and keep going.

Bleachers is able to detail the extent of the speaker’s sadness through use of specific words and phrases. the lines

Now I’m a stranger

And I miss the days of a life still permanent

Mourn the years before I got carried away

So now I’m staring at the interstate screaming at myself,

Bleachers use of the words ‘stranger’, ‘permanent’, and ‘mourn’ highlight the speaker’s desire to return to a consistent life that they once had. They feel alienated and alone and feel as though they have lost themselves, a feeling that many people share at some point in their lives. In addition, the shifts in time throughout the song serve not only to communicate the backstory of the speaker, but also to provide a link between what the speaker is thinking in the moment to the audience. The speaker and audience may share some of the same feelings and emotions and provide solace for the audience by showing them that they are not alone in their feelings.

Throughout the rest of the song the speaker goes through a back and forth on that overpass of whether or not they will keep living before, ultimately, the song resolves with the chorus of them deciding to keep living and get better. Through this song, Bleachers conveys an important and powerful message to the world. The song serves to remind people that there are people in the world who love you and care about you and even though sometimes it may look like there is no hope left they are there to support you in getting better.

A Bittersweet Love

In “A Case of You” from Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, Mitchell is explaining to her ex romantic partner that no matter what happens in their relationship, no matter how intoxicating he can be or how unhappy he makes her, she can still separate herself from him and their relationship and whatever happens she can still come out of it okay and standing on her own two feet. 

This is best demonstrated in the chorus;

Oh you’re in my blood like holy wine

You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling 

Still I’d be on my feet

When describing him as “in my blood like holy wine”, she’s saying that he’s a part of her, he’s in her blood. Relating him to wine gives the sense that he can be almost intoxicating. But then she goes on to say how she could drink a case of him, continuing the simile of him being holy wine, and she’d still be standing on her feet. She knows that she won’t get swept away by him, he doesn’t have that much of an effect on her. While he’s a part of her, she can still separate herself from their relationship and be able to stand on her own if she needs to. Additionally, she describes him as both bitter and sweet. This implies that she knows that this love could be bad for her but she thinks it’s worth it. She can justify being with him because she knows if anything did happen she would be okay. 

She again shows her confidence in her ability to survive any possible conflict in the relationship in a conversation she has with his mother.

I met a woman

She had a mouth like yours

She knew your life

She knew your devils and your deeds

And she said

“Go to him, stay with him if you can

But be prepared to bleed”

This conversation between her and his mother isn’t exactly painting him in the best light. She mentions his devils and deeds and his mother warns her that she should be prepared to be hurt. These lines are immediately followed by another version of the chorus where she maintains, even after this warning, that she’ll be okay without him if she needs to be. The warning from his mother of “be prepared to bleed” clearly means she should be prepared to be hurt. However, when it’s followed with “you are in my blood” it seems to suggest that if something did happen and he did hurt her she could bleed him out and get him out of her system. Throughout the song-poem, she continues to express how she doesn’t think he can really hurt her because he doesn’t have that much of an effect on her. She again emphasizes this in these lines by saying that if something did happen she could get him out of her system and get over it.

What lies beyond the illusion of life

Disguised in recognizable electric guitar riffs, a distinctive organ solo, and catchy rock enthusiasm, Kansas’s hit 1970s rock song “Carry on Wayward Son”, written by band member Kerry Livgren and included in the album Leftoverture, is, at its core, a philosophical exploration of the purpose of life.  

Following the first chorus and instrumental riff, the narrator begins the second stanza by describing their life as full of “noise and confusion”.  They wish to escape this chaos, to “get a glimpse beyond this illusion” — which is to say, they wish to find a higher purpose to a life of pain.  Yet, they fail in their attempts to discover this higher purpose to life, revealed through an allusion to Greek mythology — specifically, the myth of the inventor Daedalus and his son Icarus.  In this myth, Daedalus fashions two pairs of wax wings to allow himself and his son to escape imprisonment; however, Icarus becomes overconfident and ignores the warnings of his father, deciding to fly higher and higher until the sun melts his wings and he falls to his death.  In alluding to this myth, it seems that Livgren implies that finding a higher purpose in life is not a simple act of will — rather, it requires anyone seeking this higher purpose to remain grounded in reality.  But, this allusion does not hint at what Livgren believes to be the higher purpose of life, only how to achieve it.  The former is the job of the chorus:

Carry on, my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Spoken to the narrator by “the voices”, the chorus is the key to understanding what Livgren implies is the higher purpose of life.  The first step in understanding the meaning of the chorus is deducing what, exactly, the narrator must be “done” with in order to have peace.  The aforementioned second stanza describes the narrator as attempting and failing to escape a chaotic life of “noise and confusion”, so we can make the relatively safe assumption that “the voices” are telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” with these vain attempts to escape chaos — that is to say, “the voices” promise peace when the search for the meaning in life is abandoned, and the chaos is accepted as a part of life.  Though it seems counterintuitive at first, this philosophy is notably reminiscent of that of Meursault in The Stranger — life is unchangeable and must be accepted for what it is, without any higher purpose at all.

In the following stanza, the narrator describes themself as “Masquerading as a man with a reason” — which is to say, they are portraying themself as someone they are not, implying that after hearing the advice of “the voices”, they have accepted life as not having reason or a higher meaning, but are just not willing to publicly show this.  This hesitancy to reveal their belief is entirely understandable — after all, one of the most important features of The Stranger is the constant societal dismay towards Meursault’s nonemotional and existential mannerisms.  In order to avoid this societal dismay, the narrator goes to long lengths to hide his existentialist beliefs, even setting out in search of “winds of fortune” — that is, material profit and benefit — in order to appear to broader society as holding the belief that there is actually a purpose of life: to profit materially, a widely-shared belief in modern capitalist societies, allowing the narrator to blend in well and avoid the consternation of society.

But in the eighth stanza, we run into an issue with this entire assumption that “the voices” are offering the narrator an existentialist perspective on life.  “The voices” tell the narrator that his life is “no longer empty”, implying that he has found a purpose in life, and the following line tells the narrator that “surely heaven waits for you”, clearly establishing that “the voices” were telling the narrator from the beginning that a higher purpose of life does, in fact, exist: religion and reaching the afterlife.

But how is this reconcilable with all of the evidence that I used to argue that “the voices” were existentialist?

Well, one of the beauties of poetry is that it is open to interpretation. The interpretation that “the voices” were existentialist is entirely valid — it just likely is not the songwriter’s intended interpretation.

Going back to the chorus, in order to explain that “the voices” were existentialist, I assumed that the chorus was telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” with his vain attempts to escape chaos.  But another, equally valid interpretation is that the chorus was telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” living — that after a life of chaos comes an eternal afterlife of peace.  Under this interpretation, the narrator is not hiding his existentialism when he is “Masquerading as a man with a reason” or plotting “a course for winds of fortune”; instead, he seems to be resisting the advice of “the voices” to continue living life with the purpose of reaching an afterlife, and instead is only pretending to live a religious life as he continues to seek profit from material fortune — at least, until “the voices” return and tell the narrator again to trade the material for the spiritual.  And of course, the myth of Icarus teaches us that to ignore the advice of authority would be a dangerous decision.

I’d love to know — what do you all think?  Do you think Livgren intended to teach the audience that religion and reaching afterlife is the ultimate purpose of life, or that there is no ultimate purpose of life at all?  Or do you have a totally different idea of the purpose of life that Livgren and Kansas promote in “Carry On Wayward Son”?

Poetic Techniques in “Ghost Town”

In the song “Ghost Town” in the album titled Ye by Kanye West, there is concrete evidence of poetic elements that add to the song’s message and impact on the listener. The main idea that the song revolves around is letting go, and getting away from the pain that life brings. The song shifts from the hopes in the future to wanting to get out of the pain of life and leave it behind. A feeling of numbness is present here, and it is clear the speaker is dealing with some issues that he wants to get out of.

One main poetic element that Kanye uses in “Ghost Town” is the repetition of the lyrics “some day,” especially near the beginning of the poem. This repetition adds to the song by emphasizing the way the speaker is looking towards the future with hope, and feels that the future holds an escape from the hardships of the present.

Another poetic element that Kanye incorporates in this song is the line “I put my hand on the stove, to see if I still bleed.” This line serves as a metaphor for the speaker simply feeling pain just to feel something. While the speaker did not actually put his hand on a stove, this line represents doing something just to feel vulnerable or hurt. This could be in reference to drug use or to intentionally making poor choices and accepting the punishment.

Furthermore, the line “Some day I wanna lay down, like God did, on Sunday” utilizes an allusion to religion and to the bible, and the actions of God. This adds to the song by emphasizing the passion for which the speaker believes that the future will be different from today. This reference to God also emphasizes the good intentions that the speaker has in “laying down.”

It Ain’t No Use (debating whether or not this is a poem)

The seventh song on Bob Dylan’s 1963 album “The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan” is an ode to lovers gone by. Titled Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, the song tells the story of the ending of a long relationship between the narrator and an unnamed woman and their searches for a life outside of each other’s company. The narrator expresses his wishes for them to continue on with their lives, claiming that dwelling on their past can do them no good, and any attempt to fix the kinks in their relationship is simply a waste of energy.

Dylan conveys the couple’s past quarrels through the narrator’s reminiscing. The narrator seems to feel some kind of apathy toward his former lover, repeating the same phrase throughout the song.

It ain’t no use

Despite the repetition, the narrator changes the meat of each line to gradually convey the reasons behind the couple’s downfall. One instance of this is in the song’s second verse.

It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe

That light I never knowed

An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe

I’m on the dark side of the road

Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say

To try and make me change my mind and stay

We never did too much talkin’ anyway

So don’t think twice, it’s all right

Dylan uses the woman’s light as a metaphor for their lack of communication as the narrator explains that trying to communicate now would make no difference. She never shared her thoughts with him or allowed him to understand her, leaving him not knowing her light. He remains on a dark path without her light and expresses a wish that she would ask him to stay, but remembers how poorly they communicated and decides they would be better off apart.

Dylan fills the narrator’s final words to his former lover with a sense of bitterness; the diction calmly calls her out for wronging him but also shows forgiveness that reflects the inner growth the narrator has undergone because of their relationship. Knowing that neither one of them is solely to blame, he consistently takes time to reassure her that their parting of ways should not cause any feelings of guilt or unhappiness. Not being right for someone does not make you wrong.

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe

Where I’m bound, I can’t tell

But goodbye’s too good a word, gal

So I’ll just say fare thee well

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind

You could have done better but I don’t mind

You just kinda wasted my precious time

But don’t think twice, it’s all right

In a song of only 3 minutes and 41 seconds, Dylan manages to effortlessly build the story of two complicated individuals finding themselves at the end of their time together. The listener can absorb the simplistic beauty of their story, one that may have been rather mundane if it had been written by anyone else, and begin to see themselves in the character’s light. Forgiving themselves, absolving themselves of guilt, the two of them part ways cordially, returning their status to strangers. They move on and resume their lives without the weight of their past keeping them from further growth.

In 2016, Bob Dylan received a Nobel Prize in Literature for his revolutionary contributions to storytelling in American music.

Poetry In Music

Sam Smith is an artist who is particularly known for his sad romantic songs. The song “Too Good At Goodbyes” was released on September 8, 2017, as part of the album The Thrill Of It All. In this song, Smith is describing a rollercoaster of a former romantic relationship. He depicts the problems with a relationship that is on and off and the emotional toll that it has.

I’m never gonna let you close to me

Even though you mean the most to me

‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts

So I’m never gonna get too close to you

Even when I mean the most to you

In case you go and leave me in the dirt

In the chorus, Smith is illustrating the distance that is created after a breakup. Despite, getting back together, he is not able to move past their breakup and it harms their relationship. He is not able to forget what happened between them and therefore is no longer able to be as close with his partner in an effort to protect himself.

I know you’re thinkin’ I’m heartless

I know you’re thinkin’ I’m cold

I’m just protectin’ my innocence

I’m just protectin’ my soul

In this verse, he is describing why he is unable to open up to his significant other. He argues that he is not a cruel person but has to distance himself in order to protect himself from being hurt again. He is unwilling to endure any more pain and therefore feels the need to close himself off from his partner.

‘Cause every time you hurt me, the less that I cry

And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry

And every time you walk out, the less I love you

These lines illustrate the love that is lost as a result of the turbulence in the relationship. Smith describes how he becomes more detached from his significant other every time that they break up and is unable to return to how their relationship was previously. Their relationship weakens whenever they break up and they become more distant as a result of protecting themselves.

A Tribe Called Poetry

A Tribe Called Quest is a hip-hop group that formed in Queens in 1985. The fourth song on A Tribe Called Quest’s second studio album, The Low-End Theory, is “Butter“. Butter is a great example of the ability of The Tribe’s wordplay, specifically by one of their four members, Phife Dawg.

In Butter, Phife Dawg immediately brings us back to his alma matter in 1988.

1988 senior year at Garvey High

Where all the guys were corny but the girls were mad fly

Phife then gets into what his life was like for him at his high school.

I was the b-ball playing, fly rhyme saying

Fly girl getting but never was I sweating

In 1988, the year Phife’s taking us back to, Phife is pursuing a professional basketball career but is eventually convinced by the rest of the tribe to rap instead. Phife is a self-proclaimed “fly girl getter” but soon has to choose between girls and music.

‘Cause when it came to honeys I would go on a stroll

Until I met my match—her name was Flo

Phife meets “Flo”, which is a metaphor for him recognizing his rhythm and flow. Flo is his match because Phife realizes that he should be a rapper instead of a basketball player.

Yesterday your eyes were brown but today they are blue

Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true

Later in the song, Phife describes that Flo’s appearance is a lie because he finds the rap industry is different than he expected.

In his young rap career, Phife realizes that the music industry is fake and heartless.

If your hair and eyes were real, I wouldn’t have dissed ya

But since it was bought, I had to dismiss ya

Flo is given fake ears and eyes because Phife thinks that the music industry puts material growth first, something Phife doesn’t want.

On the outside “Butter” is a story about a guy getting girls, but on the inside, it is a song about the struggles of a young rapper getting into the music industry.

Is This America?

This Is America- Chldish Gambino

The song “This Is America”, by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover), was released on May fifth, in the year two-thousand and eighteen. The song is in the genre of rap and was written by many other artists of color. The song tackles gun violence, mass shootings, and the systemic racism black people face in America to this day. The artist also uses repetition and rhythm to make this rap into a form of poetry.

Guns in my area (word, my area)

I got the strap (ayy, ayy)

I gotta carry ’em

This is America- Childish Gambino

This quote is addressing the gun violence issue in America. The way that Glover pronounces the words makes it flow that every line has the same amount of syllables and causes a rhythm along with his powerful words. I argue that this song is poetry for the same syllable structure found in many poems. The way he is using poetic devices to communicate that the gun violence issue in America is so prevalent that it is affecting his own neighborhood, let alone himself that he needs a gun to combat the issue.

This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (ayy)

Look at how I’m livin’ now

Police be trippin’ now (woo)

Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)

This Is America- Childish Gambino

This part of the song is a reference to the police brutality against black people and the crimes committed against them. Gambino uses the word now three times to end a line, the poetic element of repetition being used to stress how current this issue is. There are instances of police brutality against black men and women frequently and the problem has not gotten better since this song was released. Gambino used his platform to draw attention to the injustice in the form of art. Although there is music behind this, its poetry due to the metaphors, repetitions, and imagery that each line holds. The performance piece can also help argue that it is poetic. In the music video there are exploding cars, dance moves involving guns to people’s heads, and violent choreography simulating the pain that systemic racism has brought to society.

America, I just checked my following list and

You go tell somebody

You mothaf***** owe me

This Is America- Childish Gambino

This specific part in the song is one of the most powerful, because it’s one of the only parts that genuinely rhyme and isn’t repeating a word. Its also one of the central themes of the song that America needs to treat people of color better and change the oppressive system. This is also one of the few lines that has an entirely different line structure separating it from the rest, making it stand out more.

Donald Glover uses repetition, metaphors, and changes how words sound to make a song that is also poetry. He uses these poetic devices to communicate the prominent injustices placed onto black people in America, and uses his widely known platform to do so.

Letting Go and Letting Be

While not a part of the Beatles’ most influential albums, “Let It Be” is one of their most powerful songs. Released in 1970 as part of the album Let It Be, it is a true example of poetry. It exemplifies that despite the randomness and horrors of life, the world will keep going. Instead of dwelling on everything, people should keep going and the life will work itself out.

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be

Paul McCartney, the writer of the lyrics for this particular track, uses multiple definitions of “parted” to enhance the meaning. In both instances it means split, but it can mean both split internally and split between groups of people. This double meaning enhances the significance of the line, and conveys both meanings at once. It also accentuates the imagery of the song, because it shows the listener groups of people fighting against each other and with themselves. These complexities qualify it as poetry, according to Laurence Perrine. It brings the reader into the experience.

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me

McCartney, in using light as a symbol, complicates the meaning and turns this track into poetry. Light, especially light coming from the sky, is typically used in literature to represent wisdom or the divine. Clouds and darkness, on the other hand, are ominous and foreboding. In “Let It Be”, these symbols convey relaxing and letting go as a way out of darkness. This use of figurative language turns a regular song into poetry, as it takes a simple idea and deepens it. In other words, according to Perrine, poetry “increas[es] the range of our experience and [is] a glass for clarifying it” (What Is Poetry, 3), and this line satisfies.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be”

This line from “Let It Be” shows the human experience, thus poeticizing it. It shows that during struggles, people lean on others and their wisdom to help walk them through. It also draws on our memories of others: when McCartney writes “comes to me”, he implies that his mother appears in the form of a memory. This section of the song follows the broadening our experiences poetic requirement outlined by Perrine, in that it illustrates something that everybody has experienced — recalling old wisdom.

“Let It Be” is a prime example of poetry in the music world, and it brings together a lesson for everyone on how to go through life, human experiences, and the acknowledgement that despite the world being messed up, Earth will keep turning and we can move on.

How does Lil Wayne Measure Up?

Lil Wayne’s song “6 Foot 7 Foot. ” on his album Tha Carter IV is a true piece of poetry, where he asserts and re-establishes himself as an intelligent, honest, hardworking and an overall superior man compared to other rappers. While Wayne was in prison serving an eight month sentence, he was disrespected and looked down upon by the rap community, but this song helped him reinstate himself as one of the leading rappers of this generation through his use of puns and contrasting personality traits in metaphors.

Mind so sharp I fuck around and cut my head off.

Wayne first asserts himself as smart and witty through this pun. Saying he is “so sharp” is a common figure of speech people use to describe themselves as intelligent and quick-thinking. Saying he is so sharp he will “cut his head off” is a clever way of saying he is very smart, especially compared to others. This use of language fits with Laurence Perrine’s interpretation of poetry, as it appeals to the reader’s sense of intelligence and understanding the pun, but also imagination as they imagine the scene of Wayne being so intelligent he actually loses his head. This fits in with his claim that he is smarter and overall superior to other rappers, because through this metaphor he not only states that he is intelligent, he also uses language to display that he is clever, enforcing his assertion on his intelligence and proving he is smart.

I speak the truth, but I guess that’s a foreign language to y’all.

Wayne continues to enforce his claim of superiority through his honesty, and he does this by contrasting his personality traits to those of other rappers in a metaphor. By saying, “I speak the truth”, he means that he is honest, which is an important personality trait for someone like him to have, as some people may believe he is dishonest because of his wild life stories or exorbitant claims he makes about his fame or wealth. Then he says that speaking the truth is “a foreign language to y’all”, meaning that many other rappers are liars and make faulty claims about themselves. By comparing himself, he asserts himself as truthful compared to many other rappers who are dishonest, and this builds his persona as superior to other rappers. This applies to Perrine’s definition of poetry as Wayne “provides a series of concrete, homely details that suggest these qualities”, which he does by giving details stating that he speaks the truth but other rappers are liars,  proving that he is superior to them. 

Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna.

Wayne uses another pun to further prove his hardworking nature and superiority. In the rap community people often refer to themselves as a “G”, and it stands for gangster. In this line Wayne refers to himself as a G saying that he moves in silence, similar to how the G in lasagna is silent, but says other rappers don’t because they are not real gangsters. Furthermore, saying he moves in silence means he doesn’t brag about his work and is truly devoted to his craft, and doesn’t care if people know about the effort he is putting in. This proves his hardworking nature because he is more focused on actually working and making good music, rather than trying to appear to the public in one way or another, as other rappers might. By doing this, he claims he is more devoted to making music and more hardworking than other rappers, and proves his overall claim that he is superior to them. His writing also applies to Perrine’s claim about multi-dimensional language, as it has deeper meaning than the line conveys on the surface.

Overall, Wayne proves he is intelligent through his use of puns, honest by contrasting other rappers to him in a metaphor, and hardworking through a pun about how he handles his work. By doing this, he proves he is superior on a greater level compared to other rappers, and this solidified himself back atop the rap community.

The Best of Ye West

Personally, I am very fond of Ye West’s “Gold Digger” from his album Late Registration. This song gives me nostalgia and reminds me of my childhood since this song was released in 2005. Even afterwards though, it would go on to be a classic by earning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2006. It was also ranked number 9 for the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade and ranked number 63 on Billboard’s Top 100 Songs of All Time, making it one of the most popular songs of West’s career. It’s an upbeat song that was very popular at parties in the early 2000s and it in itself is legendary. This song is the pinnacle of Ye West’s reign in the first decade of the 2000s and still to this day.

The song talks about a woman who is a gold digger and uses the speaker to get her way to his riches. West makes the statement that money and fame attracts materialistic women primarily concerned with their own benefit. I believe the speaker of the song is West himself because he talks about his desires and how the gold digger compares. He talks about the gold digger as if he’s met her and interacted with her.

Cutie the bomb, met her at a beauty salon

With a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm

She said: “I can tell you rock, I can tell by your charm

Far as girls, you got a flock

I can tell by your charm and your arm”

But I’m lookin’ for the one, have you seen her?

My psychic told me she’ll have a a** like Serena

Trina, Jennifer Lopez, four kids

And I gotta take all they bad a**** to ShowBiz?

Additionally, West references other music artists:

From what I heard she got a baby by Busta

My best friend said she used to f*** with Usher

This leads me to believe that he’s addressing other famous people to watch out for the gold digger. He uses the word “we” in order to talk about himself and other famous people as a collective to state that they should protect themselves against the gold digger.

If you ain’t no punk

Holla, “We want prenup! We want prenup!” (Yeah!)

It’s somethin’ that you need to have

‘Cause when she leave yo’ a**, she gon’ leave with half

The dialogue West uses in the song establishes two sides, the celebrities, and the gold digger who is trying to take advantage of them and their means. Something notable West did in this song was that he used a sample from Ray Charles’ song, “I’ve Got a Woman” from his album Hallelujah, I Lover Her. In Ray Charles’ song, he’s talking about a woman who treats him well and gives him money when he’s in need. West used a sample of Charles’ song to convey the opposite situation by changing the line “She gives me money when I’m in need” to “She take my money when I’m in need”. I think West used this as a way of symbolizing how unfortunate it is that the woman wants to take from him instead of help and be good to him like the woman Charles’ describes in his song. This part is found at the beginning of the song.

She take my money when I’m in need

Yeah, she’s a triflin’ friend indeed

Oh, she’s a gold digger

Way over town that digs on me

Ye West’s song “Gold Digger” is poetry to me because he provides an experience of being famous and wealthy and having to face the reality that some women only want him for what he has. He conveys the struggle of having status and attempting to find a woman who is interested in him, not his possessions.

Riding Passenger with Rich Brian

Rich Brian, a young Indonesian rapper, songwriter, and record producer, has put out 3 albums ever since his debut single, Dat $tick, came out in 2016. While signed under 88rising, a music recording company that focuses on Asian artists, he produced his second album The Sailor with 12 tracks depicting his journey from internet sensation to musical artist. The fifth track of the album, “Drive Safe” has been recognized as one of his more moving pieces as he is more vulnerable, expressing his “voyage” post-heartbreak. 

In the first verse Brian comments on his prospective future as a growing artist then switches focus, in the second verse, to his longing for the presence of his “love interest” again. He reiterated through the song that he recognizes that he had gotten lost in his pursuit of his musical dream and wants to caution the love interest and his audience. He wants individuals to be conscious of how they conduct their business while they chase their dreams, making sure to recognize how their actions may affect others. Brian uses metaphors, alliteration, and similes to depict his external and internal challenges.

The first line:

Feeling left out from the pack, you gotta, go rogue

Brian expresses his distinctive feeling, from progressing from an online phenomenon to a musician, through a metaphor between him and wolves’ system of survival. He indicates his realization of the growth in his career as well as the feeling of estrangement as he was leaving a part of his origin and area of comfort behind. He compares himself to wolves using the word “pack” which symbolizes his online persona he held before starting to “go rogue”, transitioning to music professionally. He seems to recognize that his past had been holding him back as he was growing which, by separating “from the pack” it helped push him forward and elevate his career. The connection that wolves have in a pack is very strong, knowing they must trust in one another to keep the other safe but when one starts to put less faith in another, the dynamic is impacted. Although the departure of a wolf can affect an entire pack, it can also open the doors to new experiences for the “rogue wolf”. With Brain, his connections to his roots as an internet sensation is comforting and has helped him grow but as he matures and decides to put his confidence in music, specifically the development in it, he will be able to flourish and create a new “pack”. 

Brian’s second verse:

Live life thinkin’ why it’s goin’ so slow

Lookin’  at the clock, wonderin’ why my mama’s not home

You  waited way too long

The two uses of alliteration helps exaggerate how time is influencing Brian.  Focusing first on the words, “live life” and “lookin”, it can be drawn that Brian has a distinct connection with the changing of time. He acknowledged that time is passing but by adding the words, “why” and “waited way” he offers his confusion to where the time has gone. 

A simile from the second verse:

Polaroid photos looking like a movie scene (Ayy)

This pieces together the capturing of a real moment to a fictional one. This reflects his struggle of differentiating the “good times” he had with the love interest. The “good times” he spent with the love interest is starting to look made up like a movie scene which can build upon the idea that his focus on his career had made him disregard the ones around him, giving reason to why he reiterates the point to be aware of your actions and how they will affect the ones around you. 

Ironically Poetic Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is a musical that portrays the impact music has on a family in Austria just before WWII. The opening theme, “Prelude / The Sound of Music,” is a poem ironically about music with musical augmentation.

Prelude / The Sound of Music” asserts that music inspires humans to enjoy life. The “speaker” of the song, Maria, is a nun who is not allowed to sing or participate in any music with others. The sounds that originate from the ageless environment around her act as inspiration for her to live.

In the first verse, Maria uses personification to highlight the way music can bring anything to life. She sings

The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears

Maria personifies her heart by claiming it is filled with the sound of music and that it wants to sing. She wants to capture the inspirational effect natural music has on a fundamental human organ and symbol of the soul, the heart.

In the next verse, Maria begins to describe the ways the is moved by the music of nature. She sings

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds

That rise from the lake to the trees

My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies

From a church on a breeze

To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over

Stones on its way

To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray

She continues to personify her heart in different ways and uses wordplay to convey her musical connections to the environment. For example, she claims her heart wants to “beat,” because hearts beat to pump blood through the body. But she compares her desire to the beating of the wings of birds. Maria utilizes the sound of her voice to add musical color to the poem as well. For example when she sings “chime that flies,” her voice goes up in pitch, like something that would fly. Maria also takes advantage of syntax. Each example entails a more complex experience supported by the music of nature. She begins the verse with the fundamental beating of a heart.  She transitions to laughing, a human quality that does not appear until after a few months of a baby’s life. She finally ends the verse with singing, a complex human talent.

Maria ends the song with opinions on other humans. She sings

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely

I know I will hear what I’ve heard before

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

And I’ll sing once more

The first line of this verse is strategically placed immediately after the last line of the last verse. Singing inherently involves other people, while loneliness is the absence of other people. However, Maria is comforted by the natural sounds of music, and can continue enjoying life.

Everyone Knows “All Too Well” a Little Too Well

At this point, we should all know the song “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift because it has pretty much blown up the internet and music industry. Taylor wrote this song and realized it in 2012. However, Taylors music got stolen from her, and she ended up recording the album Red except for this time, it is called Taylors Version. This has brought all of these older songs to the front of Tayor fans’ minds again. As I started to think about it, “All Too Well” is written as a poem. The overall meaning and theme of “All Too Well” is Taylor longing for the memories and feelings she got from a relationship that once was good but slowly fell apart in her hands. She goes back and forth, remembering every detail of the relationship a little too well. Throughout this song, Taylor flashes back to detailed and specific memories to show that relationships that start great and sweet can always turn bad and end up rotting. Taylor describes the early stages of the relationship using the simile, “autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place”, which shows how complete and whole she felt while with him. This line also references the time frame of the relationship, which would be autumn. Throughout the song, Taylor repeats the phrase “I remember it all too well,” this is basically enforcing her feelings and shows the listener that this relationship was impossible to forget, and she remembers every detail clearly because that is how much it had an impact on her life. She also mentions the heartbreaking details she remembers, such as “in the middle of the night, we dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light,” which cleverly uses rhyme in “night” and “light.” Overall, Taylors song “All Too Well” was such a cleverly written song/poem that shows all of her feelings from the begging to the end of this devastating relationship.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Songs from the Big Chair) is a multi-dimensional song, expressing the power-hungry motives of us as a society, the abuse of authority in the US government, and even our own personal ambition. Many people have debated the intent and meaning behind the lyrics, coming to the conclusion that there is a political message being expressed. The title is the message; every person, whether specifically striving for this goal or not, wants power and/or authority.

“Turn your back on Mother Nature”

The human species has developed a society that destroys the earth through large corporations and their participation in pollution, the mass consumption of animal products that increase green gases, and our overall involvement in destroying “Mother Nature”. The personification of Mother Nature and the action of us as a society backstabbing “her” emphasizes humans’ hunger for power, to the extent where we’re willing to wreck the earth.

“All for freedom and for pleasure

Nothing ever lasts forever”

As a society we strive for the most, even if it isn’t stable enough to last forever. This quote represents short-lived successes within our own lives, our communities, our families through the utilization of an allegory. The central idea of the stanza is that we indulge in things that make us satisfied and happy, but those indulgences usually don’t fulfill us for long enough. Following the idea is a hidden moral, encouraging us to seek out the stability in life, the things (whether they’re material goods or emotions) that are more than just pleasurable, and may last longer.

“Everybody wants to rule the world”

This hyperbole expresses Tears for Fears’ intent of spreading the idea that whether we agree or disagree, we all have the urge to be at the top, through authority figures, rankings in class, etc. It all goes back to the one central message that the human species’ history of war, genocide, the building of empires, societal expectations, racism, sexism, and any other uneven dynamic pasts have contributed to an overall overconsumption of power. How can we overcome this overindulgence and, instead, embrace the voids and still be satisfied?

Self-Expression Through Music Poetry

Poetry can be a type of literature that conveys a thought, describes a scene, or tells a story in a concentrated, lyrical arrangement of words. So then what is music? It seems to be poetry sung with instrumental sounds added in the background.

Ritt Momney’s song “Put Your Records On,” the viral cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s hit debut single, is musical poetry. It is a joyful, hopeful song and, if read aloud as a poem, reveals a deeper meaning within the lyrics.

This song is very motivating and almost empowering for everyone. In this song, the singer is reassuring all the girls out there that it’s going to be okay. They do not need to stress too much about how they look. Many girls and boys put too much pressure on themselves to be “perfect”. They try to alter how they look and hide how they truly feel so that they get accepted by the world. But this song is basically saying that it does not matter what the world thinks. What really matters is what you think and how you truly feel about yourself.

Don’t you let those other boys fool you
Gotta love that Afro hairdo

The lyric is a message to the original artist’s, Bailey-Rae’s, younger self to embrace her natural hair. When she was a teenager, the trend was to have straight hair and the singer feared being out of step if she didn’t follow the fashion.

When you gonna realize that you don’t even have to try any longer?
Do what you want to

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song
You go ahead, let your hair down

The hair down is a metaphor to get loose, not to worry, and embrace your inner beauty, which is cool since it’s what many of us do when we are at home and want to relax. We let our hair loose and enjoy the feel of being ourselves.

The Tale of a Wonderful Yesterday

When I first found this song I was watching a movie called “Our Idiot Brother” with Paul Rudd, and in the movie, there was a dog whose name was Willie Nelson, so naturally, the director of the movie had countless Willie Nelson songs whenever the dog showed up. The song “Wonderful Future” by Willie Nelson from the album The Willie Way discusses the life of Willie Nelson, as a person who has lived his life and experienced great things, and because of this he reflects on his life and expresses that his memories are all he has to remember, and because of these memories he has nothing for him in his future. Throughout this song the speaker is Willie himself, talking to someone who he loved (as in a relationship) and he is explaining his pain to them. This takes place possibly in Nelson’s home while reflecting on his life and how he feels now (or while he was thinking about his past). The song first begins by expressing his reflection of his dreams as he (metaphorically looks at them) or as though he is introducing to the audience the beginning of the walkthrough of his past. However, he explains that he is the same person of his past, and that the memories of his past still resonate with him in this moment of reflection. The song is explaining to the listener that holding on to the memories of your past is important but this then leads you to nothing in the future because you have lived the moments that leave you with imprints. More specifically the likes that struck me the most are:

I’m alone in the sweet used-to-be
My past and my present are one and the same

This part of the song (the introduction) tells the listener directly that as he walks through his past and dreams, though they are the same person (or he is the same person he’s always been) he is alone with only those memories to ponder

Yesterday’s kisses still burning
And yesterday’s mem’ries still find me
Scenes from the past keep returning

This part alone allows the reader to think of this song as the reflection of a relationship that ended (with the word “kisses”). Also, the use word “burning” alludes to pain from these never-ending memories that keep returning. It almost seems like he’s trying to escape this pain that he feels but the “scenes” of his past keep haunting him almost

You say there is happiness waiting for me
But I know this is just fantasy
Let me trade one tomorrows for one yesterday
Live in my garden of dreams

The use of the word “you” entails that someone specifically has said this but also that he’s speaking to someone, possibly someone he was in a past relationship with. Furthermore, the last line of this stanza reflects back to his “garden of dreams” similar to how his past keeps returning his dreams come back as well. What’s more interesting though, is when he explains that he would trade a day of his future to be able to live another day in the past, because it illustrates his sadness and desperation to live his past again.

This song, to me, not only tells the story of not being able to escape your emotions from the past but also that having those memories are important in the sense that you’ve lived such a part in your life that you want to go back to it.

Willie Nelson – Wonderful Future Lyrics | Genius Lyrics