An Analysis of The Secretary Chant by Marge Piercy

March 23, 2019 by Essay Writer

The poem “The Secretary Chant,” by Marge Piercy, holds many characteristics that are meant to pull the reader in. As with any poem, the words mean more than they appear to. Each line is written with a purpose. Every word has significance and without it, the poem would not come across the same. “My hips are a desk.” The first line of the poem acts as a tone setting for the whole poem. She is starting off by personifying a desk as her hips. This metaphor is crucial to the rest of the poem. When you think of a desk, what is it that you think of? Often it is a station for working. It is the place where all supplies are laid out and all work is to be done. She says that her hips are a desk because they are a foundation for her body. The poem is filled with metaphors comparing body parts to office supplies. The meaning of this poem is to show a transformation from woman to a walking work machine. She feels as though she does everything, she is the foundation to all workers in the perceived office setting.“From my ears hang chains of paper clips. Rubber bands form my hair.” These two lines have multiple meanings. An obvious meaning for these phrases is that she is the place where everyone goes to obtain their office supplies. There is a deeper meaning to these sentences. Paper clips and rubber bands hold what uses? They are made to hold things together. By saying that she is made up of these two objects is implying that a secretary is the glue that holds the whole office together. Without her, the rest of the office is simply some scattered paper or objects.There are four onomatopoeias in this poem: buzz, click, zing, tinkle. These words are very important to the poem. With these words, Piercy is able to add to the effect that she is creating with the rest of the personification of office supplies. These words are grouped in pairs on the seventh and fourteenth lines of the poem. The placements of the words alone create a certain feeling. It is as if the sounds are interrupting the poem, creating a more mechanical feel to the poem.Piercy goes on to describe her head in two different ways. The first is a comparison of her head to a badly organized file. This is stated because a secretary has many different things to keep track of. Piercy then writes, “My head is a switchboard where crossed lines crackle.” A secretary in an office setting most likely has more than one person that she has to keep organized. When she says that crossed lines crackle, she is saying that she may often confuse certain information.After the second set of onomatopoeias, Piercy goes on to say, “Swollen, heavy, rectangular I am about to be delivered of a baby Xerox machine.” This is included in the poem to add to the depressing feel of unimportance. What Piercy meant by this is how she feels that women may never amount to anything more than a secretary. She says that she is delivering a Xerox machine, means that her offspring is going to end up doing exactly as she did. Also, she uses the term Xerox because all a Xerox machine was used for was making copies. This is ironic because she is making an exact copy of herself, just as a Xerox machine would do. The overall meaning of this poem can be found in the last line. “File me under W because I once was a woman.” It was written to show the reader a transformation that women in the workplace go through. Piercy wrote this to express her feelings. She feels as though her job has over taken her existence as a person. Back in 1973 when she wrote the poem, women were still struggling for equality to men. The ending phrase helps bring the message across that it was still a workplace dominated by men because she ended up not being seen as a woman. The poem has both a literal meaning and an underlying message. She feels as though women are not seen as equal in the work place and she uses metaphors and personification to help bring her points across. The onomatopoeias break up the body of the poem and the effect makes the poem seem even gloomier.

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